Ryan Serhant is on the march.
While other brokerages look inward as they reel from heavy losses amid a correcting market, Serhant is annexing new territory. The two-and-a-half-year-old brokerage in March expanded into six new markets along the East Coast: Florida, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, North Carolina and South Carolina.
Serhant has added 49 agents, three Florida offices — two in Miami and one in Palm Beach County — and one office in each of the other markets. The brokerage was already licensed in Florida, but the expansion marks its first office locations and teams based in the Sunshine State.
“We’re just getting started,” said Serhant, who’s been teasing an expansion since his firm’s holiday party in December. “We’re just now learning how to run in the market, and the fact that this market is correcting all around us makes it even more exciting.”
His firm’s brand-focused approach materialized at the right time to fill a void in the market: As the industry grapples with whether brokers are stars or soldiers, Serhant is the first brokerage to promise them they can be both.
The pitch appears to be resonating. Though Serhant has recruited few household names, headcount grew by more than 150 percent last year, according to Corofy. The firm’s revenue also increased dramatically last year: Serhant finished sixth in The Real Deal’s 2022 ranking of New York City brokerages, nearly doubling its on-market, sell-side revenue to $542 million from 2021, when it finished 11th with $235 million in volume.
Serhant wouldn’t say what financial incentives, if any, were offered to the incoming teams. He brushed off concerns about expanding — and likely adding expenses — in a down market.
“We’ve been EBITDA positive from day one,” said Serhant, though as a private company his brokerage doesn’t have to open its books like publicly traded firms do. “We knew the market was going to start correcting … you’ll never see me doing a press release being like ‘the surprise of the market’. All you have to do is read.”
At the time of its launch, the firm touted its in-house production studio as a tool for brokers to develop their own brands and maximize their visibility while working under his name. Brokers in markets outside of New York City will have access to third-party production studios trained by Serhant to publish content in the same style as the brokerage’s in-house team.
Serhant also says incoming brokers and teams can keep whatever CRM they’re comfortable with and his firm will work to integrate it into the rest of the company. That’s a departure from firms like Compass and The Real Brokerage, who use their proprietary platforms as a central part of their pitch.
Serhant’s expansion targets New York City feeder markets and luxury markets with strong referral ties to the city. The company’s education and referral platforms have proven a recruiting advantage, responsible for discovering some new team leads.
The Fairfield office will be led by a familiar face, longtime Serhant broker Ashlei De Souza. Andrea Desy Edrei, a broker formerly with Keller Williams Black Label who has appeared on “Million Dollar Listing New York,” will lead a 12-person team in Philadelphia. In New Jersey, Serhant is joined by Michele Zyska, one of Compass’ founding brokers in the market.
In Miami, Serhant tapped top Douglas Elliman broker Mariana Niro and Matt Van Wie of The Keyes Company. Yasser Ponce, previously with Compass, will serve as regional director of sales. Serhant has also expanded into Palm Beach County, where Christian Prakas, formerly of Christian Prakas Real Estate, will cover DelRay Beach and Boca Raton.
While an expansion into North and South Carolina may seem strange for a New York-based firm, brokers in those areas say a significant portion of their clients come from the Northeast.
“A good 25 percent of our business is people relocating here from the Northeast,” said Charlene Dearing, who runs The Dearing Team with her husband Josh Dearing. “Some people can’t decide if they want to go to North Carolina or all the way down to Florida. Now we’ll have people all up and down the East Coast we can refer business to.”
The Dearing Team, a 10-person team recruited through Sell It Like Serhant, operates in the Lake Norman, Raleigh, Asheville and Charlotte markets, the last of which is projected to be this year’s hottest real estate market nationally by Zillow. Serhant isn’t the only one paying attention: Douglas Elliman also plans to expand to North and South Carolina this year.
In South Carolina, Coastal Investment Network, a six-agent brokerage led by Christopher Bowes, came by way of Serhant Connect, the firm’s referral platform. The firm will cater to the Hilton Head, Blufton and Charleston regions. Bowes said two more brokers are joining his team in early April.
Serhant didn’t specify targets for further expansion but said more action from the brokerage is on the horizon.
“You think I’m stopping here? I’m only getting started,” he said. “I work seven days a week. I have big plans. And no one even knows what they are yet.”