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The coronavirus pandemic has lead to a strong market, so real estate professionals would do well to strike while the iron is hot, prominent luxury real estate broker and CEO Ryan Serhant told attendees at Inman Connect Las Vegas Wednesday.
In a session called “Becoming a Force: How to Achieve Long-Term Success,” Serhant noted his real estate career began in 2008 when the housing market was in free-fall. Since then people have been buying and selling homes because they needed to because of a life change, but the pandemic has meant that people are now buying and selling homes because they need to and because they want to, for an extra bedroom or because of low interest rates or because they see their family and friends doing it, according to Serhant.
“People are spending money like they’ve never spent before,” he said.”You should take as much advantage of it as you can.”
Not surprising, given that his brokerage’s name is literally SERHANT, he emphasized building up a strong personal brand as part of his strategy.
“It’s not cold calls, it’s not door-knocking, it’s not paying Zillow any more money,” he said. “You want to build a brand that’s large enough so that when you’re sleeping, people are emailing you.”
“If you’re not putting yourself out there on social, getting your brand out there — who you are, what you sell — in some way every single week, you can’t sit there and complain,” he added.
Serhant emphasized being deliberate with his time, both personal and work. He scoffed at the idea of “work-life balance” calling it “crap,” and instead pointed out that he meets with his wife every Sunday to compare schedules and arrange his time so that he can put their baby to bed twice a week Monday through Friday, spends Saturdays with the baby unless something really important comes up and one night a week he and his wife have a “date night.”
“If I leave anything else up to chance, then I’m going to set myself up for failure and then you start to build up resentment,” he said.
“I’ve found with any relationship, whether it’s your wife, your partner, a buyer or seller, at the end of the day, it’s all about results. It’s about clear, honest communication. It’s about telling a seller over and over ‘This is what’s happening. This is what’s happening,’ versus not saying anything because you have nothing to say, then you’re setting yourself up to be fired and I don’t want my wife to fire me.”
While it was “scary” starting his own brokerage at the beginning of a pandemic that killed every deal in progress at the time, being thought of as “crazy” made him stand out and got him news coverage, according to Serhant. He decided to make lemonade out of lemons.
“When else is God going to turn the market off for six months so I can start my own business?” he said. “Who else starts a brand during COVID? That’s really when you find out what you’re made of.”
In a lighthearted moment during the session, Serhant poked fun at an Inman headline earlier this week that read “‘History repeats itself:’ Ryan Serhant warns of an impending luxury slump.” He said he was merely predicting the inevitable.
“I just said … ‘Yes it’s great now, but it can’t be sunny all the time. Just like it can’t rain all the time. Just be prepared,'” he said. “‘Yes, the market’s amazing now. Take advantage of it. It’s the greatest time we’ve ever had in our lifetimes to be in real estate. Maybe it won’t be that way in two years.'”
But when Inman’s headline foretold impending doom, he started getting calls from banks he’s a broker for asking if that was really how he felt. So on his Instagram he posted alternate headlines that prompted laughter from the audience: “Ryan Serhant warns of impending sunset. Ryan Serhant warns of impending sad Adele album. Inman News: Ryan Serhant warns of impending Fast and Furious sequel.”
He ended the session with a tidbit that, funnily enough, came up because of his hair, which turned gray when he was 16. When he was 23 and potential clients asked him how long he’d been in real estate, he just said, “awhile.”
“Whatever you think is your biggest weakness is probably your biggest strength,” he said.