Interview: Ryan Serhant

From the interview archives.


Real estate agent Ryan Serhant has been showing the world how to sell beautiful properties ever since he landed a spot on Million Dollar Listing New York in 2012. Since then, Ryan has become one of the most well known real estate agents in America and now you can see him in his new TV series on Bravo, Sell It Like Serhant. VULKAN caught up with Ryan to talk about gorgeous homes, market advice and what inspired him to create the new series.

It seems like so many people these days are getting into real estate. Do you think the market for real estate agents is oversaturated or right in tune with the growth of the market? 

Like any market, supply goes up with the good times and down with the bad. Right now we have an excess supply of agents around the country for the demand, which will in turn seen more agents than normal leave the business. That’s the standard. But I will say more and more people are choosing an entrepreneurial lifestyle out of high school and college, rather than their parent’s idea of a white-collar job, and real estate plays nicely into that new normal. 

What do you think is the biggest misconception people have about the industry?

That you can make your own hours or do it part time. The truth is, your hours are your clients hours – so you work when they want you to. And you can’t be part time. You get out what you put in. 

Do you recall what your first showing was like for a big sale? Were you nervous?

The way I define a “Big sale” has changed, relatively, over the years. My first sale was just under $400,000 and it was the best experience of my life. But I remember my first Multi-Million dollar deal for $8.3M at 45 West 67. I was 27. I sold it sight-unseen over email. Welcome to New York! 

What advice did your earliest mentors give you that is still relevant to you today? 

Sales is a volume business. So if you do the work, and you take care of the work, the work will take care of you. 

What’s the most gorgeous property you ever visited? Where was it and what made it so special to you? 

In the world? The Lodge at Kauri Cliffs, New Zealand. In New York, I can’t pick just one. But we are marketing the Spring Garden Residence at 157 West 57 right now it has an amazing glass solarium on Central Park with the most incredible views. It’s a duplex with 5 bedrooms. I love it. 

For current homeowners looking to renovate to increase their property value, what in your experience will generate them the biggest return? 

First, remove all your clutter, personal photos, and paint every room and baseboard white. I would always rather let a buyer do the work because if your property really need a renovation, just doing the floors or a bathroom isn’t going to make you any money on your sale. But if the kitchen or a bathroom are just a little dated, then those would be what I would renovate. But keep it simple! Don’t go crazy with finishes – you don’t want to lose money. 

After a particularly stressful week, how do you unwind?

Netflix and chill with my wife. 

Where would you build your dream home and what is one luxury you’d definitely include in it?

I’m building one on the best block in Brooklyn right now. I’m making one whole floor a gym!  Next will be Greece when Emilia and I are ready. A nice house with a pool overlooking the ocean. 

What can fans expect from Sell It Like Serhant that differs from what they’ve seen over the last few years on Million Dollar Listing? 

Million Dollar Listing is ALL real estate ALL the time. Sell it Like Serhant is not. In my new show, I’m helping struggling salespeople in all types of businesses that are NOT real estate, learn to sell better before they get fired. It’s an amazingly fun, and emotional show. Everyone’s job was on the line in every episode. 

What made you want to create this new show? 

The show kind of created itself. Since Million Dollar Listing New York first premiered on Bravo in March of 2012, people all around the world have reached out to me to say the way I negotiated in this episode or that episode helped them sell more tires, or more in-ground pools. Literally thousands of salespeople who don’t work in real estate specifically have watched the show and reached out to me, and a LOT of them ask for help selling. They want to sell more. They have quotas to hit they they’re missing. They want to learn from me, so, I told Bravo about that and here we are. 

What has been your favourite part of putting together Sell It Like Serhant?

Actually helping people who need help. I deal with so much greed in my life as a real estate broker in New York. It makes me sick sometimes. Everyone I worked with on Sell it Like Serhant was the opposite. It was so rewarding to work with genuine people who just wanted to learn more so they could earn more for their family.  

Did you ever imagine that your life would lead you to where you are today with successful TV shows and books deals and of course a great career? Was this always a goal?

I never expected to have taken the path I took to get here – no, but from an early age I told myself I would be successful. I just didn’t know how. I think you need to have a mindset for success and then the how and the who and the where and the why will figure themselves out of you stay open and positive. Trust me. I was hand modeling Nespresso capsules TEN YEARS AGO to the day. 

What career path might you have taken if you never got into real estate?

I’d still be sleeping with moisturizing gloves, hand modeling to pay the rent. 

Of course, you often are working in very lavish homes and properties…. But can you tell us about a time you went to do showing, perhaps early in your career, where it was an utter mess? If so, how did you handle that? 

Every week I walk into homes that are disasters. It’s par for the course for any real estate agent. Even homes that could be worth $10 or $20M are disasters with clutter, awful furniture, bad paint.  People just don’t take care of their homes, and themselves honestly. It’s a shame because often times it’s too late when I come in and say, “I can’t sell this for what you want because the market will see this as a total guy rehab.”

What’s one thing you believe all realtors should remember in their day-to-day?

Watch Sell it Like Serhant and you’ll find out 🙂

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