For a lot of New York City agents, Ryan Serhant is something of a cultural touchstone. More than anyone else, he took the cutthroat world of Manhattan real estate and put a happy face on it for millions of people around the world.

Of course, New York City real estate is a universe away from Hollywood, and it takes far more than a winning smile to rise to the top of the pack. Seemingly overnight, while the rest of us were fighting with Zillow and StreetEasy, Ryan Serhant did just that. He quietly built an actual real estate empire to compete with the old-money Manhattan crowd.

Amazingly, he is now a best-selling author, a reality TV star, and the founder of the number one team in New York City, the Ryan Serhant Team, a deal-closing juggernaut that has closed more than $1.6 billion in the last two years alone.

That’s why we (virtually) sat down with Ryan via his unimaginably charming public relations (PR) team in order to get his take on the post-pandemic market, charity, and his favorite pandemic snacks.

1. If you were an agent today, how would you prepare yourself for the coming downturn?

“I would say that there isn’t necessarily a coming downturn for residential real estate. I remain somewhat optimistic that what we are experiencing now—a brutal and immediate stop in business⁠—will not be a slow burn like previous recessions.

“I think we’ll have a tough 2020. Agents need to remember that fortunately, and unfortunately, you don’t sell your own properties. You need to focus on buyers, deals, and distressed products. The work doesn’t change, but you need to diversify the types of deals you do. The best agents already do this.”

Serhant Team Exclusive - 196 Orchard Street
Rendering of Serhant Team Exclusive: 196 Orchard Street

2. How do you see the real estate market changing in the next six months?

“Shelter-in-place orders around the globe have shown us how important residential real estate is. We aren’t being forced to shelter in offices—we are in our homes. You need to have a great primary residence or secondary home if you can afford one.

“Agents need to be recession-proof, disaster-proof, and now, disease-proof.

“There will be a renewed focus on quality: buyers will look at homes and wonder if they can quarantine there. People with money are focusing on what quarantine lifestyles should be⁠—just look at Kanye West and Bloomberg and their real estate purchases out west. People living in multifamily housing for the past eight weeks will think about the type of housing they prefer when this goes back to normal and consider a change. Perhaps it’s as simple as upgrading to an apartment with outdoor space.”

3. For many agents, this pandemic offers an opportunity to develop stronger & more meaningful client relationships. What other hidden opportunities do you think agents have right now that they might not be aware of?

The Course, an immersive guide I created to help agents get more clients, make more money, close more deals, build a team, and more, published a COVID-19 Guide at the beginning of the crisis for members. There are many resources affiliated with The Course to take advantage of, along with regular Facebook Live videos. I speak with members daily and tell them you have to focus on the silver lining to find opportunities. If you are healthy and your loved ones are healthy, this shouldn’t be a time of sorrow. Touch base with all of your clients. Check in on their well-being. Ask about their parents and grandparents.

“Secondly, there is an opportunity right now to be a community leader, which is always the best way to get clients. Start a Facebook group about a topic you are passionate about. If just two people blast it out, suddenly you have a new community of people who know you. All of them will eventually need homes.

“There is also an opportunity to show value with developers. For example, at 196 Orchard, a condominium on the Lower East Side developed by Magnum Real Estate Group, we partnered with the development team to create virtual tours before the shutdown and we’ve had five remote closings in the past few weeks. What this whole situation is showing people is that most business in our field can be virtual.

“Real estate will become more efficient.

“Can’t make a meeting in-person because you need to be uptown and downtown back to back? Well, Zoom. Can’t make a first showing? Well, this can be digital now too.”

4. What are you doing as a team leader to ensure your agents can thrive during & after the pandemic?

“I am leading by example. I keep team meetings at the same time, over video. I touch base with everyone on the team every day, whether it be via email, call, or direct message (DM). I also decided to come back to the office alone to show my team that I am here for them to keep things running. I am on the ground (safely) to be a resource while I want everyone to stay safe and stay home.”

5. Many agents have been raising money for charity during the pandemic. What’s your favorite charity & how can our readers donate?

“My philanthropic work tends to focus on children because they are the ones without choice. A favorite is Project Sunshine, which helps pediatric patients in hospitals who are often alone, especially right now since visitors aren’t allowed.

City Harvest is another fantastic organization that is providing nourishing meals for those in poverty, including children who relied on school for their meals and essential workers. You can visit each link to donate.”

Pediatric Patient in hospital
(Source: Project Sunshine)

6. It feels like everyone in the world is making homemade sourdough or banana bread these days. What’s your go-to quarantine comfort food recipe?

“I don’t cook. At the beginning, I ate everything in sight that I would never normally eat. Bagels, chips, cereal. Those are my comfort foods. They don’t require recipes.”

Over to You

Know an agent or broker who’s crushing it despite the current market? Let us know in the comments or email us: