Going off script: Ryan Serhant’s team just lost several top agents

Three of the brokers appear to be staying at Nest Seekers

Aug.August 29, 2017 09:47 AM

From left: Bryan Atienza, Colby Billhardt, Danny Nassi, Peggy Zabakolas and Ryan Serhant (Credit: Facebook and Michael Mcweeney)

In an interview last year, a writer for Boston Common Magazine asked Ryan Serhant to describe his proudest professional accomplishment. “My team,” the star broker and reality television fixture answered.

“I love watching everyone on my team grow,” Serhant said. “No one has ever left me, so my team has just grown and grown to include some of the most successful and courageous real estate agents in the business. A few years ago Bryan Atienza was a rental agent in New Jersey. He’s now on his fourth new development project with me.”

But in recent weeks, four key members of the 60-person Serhant Team at Nest Seekers International — including Atienza — have flown the nest, The Real Deal has learned.

Atienza, Peggy Zabakolas and Danny Nassi (who plasters pictures of himself with Serhant on Instagram) are still with the brokerage, according to its website. Colby Billhardt, who joined the Serhant Team in 2015, moved to Brown Harris Stevens last week.

Serhant did not respond to requests for comment.

Several sources said the timing of the departures was coincidental, while other insiders said the team is experiencing growing pains with less day-to-day involvement from Serhant, who recently began filming a second reality TV show, “Sell it like Serhant,” in addition to his role on “Million Dollar Listing: New York.”

Eddie Shapiro, CEO of Nest Seekers, dismissed the criticism. “It’s a big team, people move around,” he said.

Over the past two years, the Serhant team has pushed into Brooklyn and expanded in Los Angeles. Overall, it’s jumped to about 50 agents from 20 in 2015.

The team closed $614 million in deals nationwide last year, up from $479 million in 2015, according to Real Trends, whose annual broker ranking is based on self-reported data. By comparison, Fredrik Eklund and John Gomes of Douglas Elliman had $721.3 million sales last year compared to $487.1 million in 2015, the Real Trends ranking shows. In Manhattan, the Serhant team closed $258 million in sell-side deals, according to the most recent ranking from TRD. 

Serhant and his team have accounted for a disproportionate amount of Nest Seekers’ business in New York. In 2015, Serhant’s exclusives accounted for more than 50 percent of the firm’s listings, according to an analysis by TRD.

“A lot of these guys have been there for a while and they were ready to do their own thing, leave their mark,” Shapiro said.

That was true for Billhardt. “I just felt ready to take a page out of his book and create my own brand,” she said. “You can’t be in this industry — which is commission-based and is a daily hustle — and not be a risk taker. That’s the place where I’m at now. I have no doubt his empire will continue to grow.”

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