Ryan Serhant is marking 12 years in real estate by striking out on his own.
The celebrity broker is launching his own brokerage, Serhant, that will focus on selling New York City properties through the global referral network he has cultivated through his real estate course and a suite of marketing divisions.
The Wall Street Journal first reported the news Tuesday.
In an interview with The Real Deal, Serhant maintained that he is not leaving Nest Seekers International. He will continue to work with clients and his team back at Nest Seekers on existing projects, but all new business he brings in going forward will be handled through his new firm. Serhant’s team clocked in at No. 2 on TRD‘s most recent ranking of residential brokers, with $480.5 million in closed sales in 2018.
The birth of Serhant’s brokerage has generated tension along the way.
In June, a dispute over a new development building between Serhant and Nest Seekers CEO Eddie Shapiro ignited rumors that the firm and its famous agent were parting ways, but both Serhant and Shapiro forcefully denied there was any problem.
“We renegotiate exclusives all the time,” Serhant said at the time. “I’m in my office … There is nothing going on.”
Shapiro stood by Serhant’s account. “There’s no dispute,” he said. “Everything’s good … Business as usual.”
But two insiders who later spoke to TRD on the condition of anonymity claim the celebrity broker and Nest Seekers have been unwinding their relationship since at least the start of the year. But the process has been bumpy and Serhant’s plans have been shrouded in mystery, according to their accounts.
They say members of the Serhant Team weren’t told about the details and timeline of Serhant’s new venture, or what would happen to them. As a result, some agents sought out positions at competing firms, while others assumed new roles outside of Serhant’s team within Nest Seekers.
“Ryan has been kind of silent,” one of the insiders said. “A lot of them don’t appreciate the fact that they were kind of left in the dark.”
Serhant admitted that attrition has occurred in his team, but he denied that his relationship with Shapiro’s firm was “unwinding.”
“The majority of my team is still at Nest Seekers,” he said. His team at the brokerage now has 40 agents, down from 62 last year. His new company’s head count is 20.
Serhant said he intentionally kept news of his brokerage under wraps, describing it as a “personal choice” that he compared to how he and his wife Emilia Bechrakis Serhant kept her pregnancy a secret from everyone, including members of their family.
“This wasn’t a sit-down with my entire team,” he said. “Maybe it’s the spiritual guy in me that thinks that some things you have to do personally.”
Nest Seekers has launched a new development division called Nest Seekers New Development Group, which is now handling marketing and sales for several of Serhant’s projects, including a 77-unit condominium in Long Island City where any trace of the celebrity broker is gone.
“He’s left a lot on the table, you know,” said one of the insiders, adding that Serhant’s Soho office has been converted into a conference room.
Serhant denied that he’s dismantled his business at Nest Seekers.
“What I’ve built is myself and my brand,” he said. “All of my clients are fully aware of what my plans are.”
As for his former office in Soho, Serhant said he hadn’t been there for “a little while.”
“A conference room sounds like a good use for it,” he said.