Serhant hires first cohort of agents, executives

Celebrity broker’s initial hires come from the city’s biggest firms

Ryan Serhant and (clockwise from left) Chase Landow, Kayla Lee, Scott Francis and Natalie Vitebsky (Getty)
Ryan Serhant and (clockwise from left) Chase Landow, Kayla Lee, Scott Francis and Natalie Vitebsky (Getty)

Ryan Serhant has made his first round of hires at his new brokerage, snagging talent from Douglas Elliman, Compass, the Corcoran Group and Modern Spaces.

Among the new hires are Chase Landow, a former Serhant Team alum who moved to Noble Black’s team at Elliman last year; Corcoran’s Scott Francis; and Kayla Lee, a Long Island City-based broker from Modern Spaces, Serhant confirmed.

The celebrity broker also brought on Natalie Vitebsky, Elliman’s former vice president of operations, to become Serhant’s chief financial officer. Before her most recent stint at Elliman, Vitebsky was Compass’ head of finance for two years, and prior to that she was Elliman’s CFO for seven years.

Other hires include Elliman agent Jonathan Perrelli, Elliman’s Sean Jadidian and Compass’ Jason Baker. Garrett Derderian, who previously led data and research divisions at CORE Real Estate and Stribling & Associates before going out on his own, will be Serhant’s director of market intelligence.

Elliman and Compass declined to comment on the moves. Corcoran did not respond. Modern Spaces’ CEO Eric Beniam said Lee left his firm on good terms and “she knows our door is always open. I wish her luck.”

Read more

Serhant founded his brokerage in September and said his initial hires would be seasoned New York City agents with a minimum of five years of experience and at least $500,000 in gross commission income over the past 12 months. The firm isn’t dangling sweeteners such as signing bonuses as part of its recruitment efforts, Serhant said.

“These initial people are a good mix for us,” said Serhant, pointing to Lee, who is the firm’s first hire in LIC, and Baker, who moonlights as a food and travel blogger and will be hosting one of Serhant’s new YouTube shows, Meals in Mansions.

“They all have their own individual reasons and stories, and they’re all good fits,” Serhant added. “That’s what I’m also looking for more than anything.”

So far, the firm has received a huge wave of interest, with about 1,000 brokers applying for jobs. Serhant believes that’s largely due to the changes the pandemic has wrought on the residential real estate industry.

Sign Up for the undefined Newsletter

“A lot of agents are saying, ‘OK, what can my brokerage do for me? How can my brokerage help me grow my own brand?’ And no other brokerage can answer that question,” he said. “I think we’re the only firm that can really answer it.”

Since the onset of the pandemic in March, sales volume in Manhattan and Brooklyn was roughly halved, while sales in Queens were down 40 percent year-over-year last quarter. Many brokerages have slashed costs through layoffs, furloughing employees and consolidating office space.

Of the initial hires, several went through informal channels. Jadidian said he was referred to Serhant by a third party he declined to name, while others said the move was the product of years-long relationships with the celebrity broker. Landow, who boomeranged back to Serhant after a year away, called his return a “homecoming.”

Lee, who’s handled sales at new development buildings for Modern Spaces for the past five years, said she “casually” reached out to Serhant after news of his new firm broke inquiring about opportunities.

She said she’d never considered working with Serhant before on his team because it had felt like a “step back.”

“But as soon as I heard that he created his own company, it was a total gamechanger,” she said. “I can be an agent under his brand, but I’m not under another agent.”

Francis, who left Corcoran, said he’d had conversations with Serhant before working together, but, like Lee, had reservations because he didn’t want to join a team.

“Now, it really felt like the right time,” said Francis. Though he acknowledged the risk of leaving an established firm for a smaller startup amid a pandemic, Francis said those same factors made Serhant more nimble and “much more appealing, especially post-pandemic.”

He pointed to the firm’s attitude toward remote work as an example.

“You’re not talking about desk fees or feeling chained to a desk,” said Francis. “His model is such that every new agent is provided with a laptop … and everything is right there with you.”