Ryan Serhant hits back at reality TV critics
Ryan Serhant pushes back on Brown Harris Stevens CEO Bess Freedman’s claims to The real deal New York City Showcase + Forum last week that reality TV shows are hurting the public’s perception of the real estate industry.
Sharing a panel with Scott Durkin, CEO of Douglas Elliman, and Serhant, who has starred on “Million Dollar Listing New York” since its inception in 2012, Freedman said TRD‘s Hiten Samtani that “reality TV is very deflating for what we do because I think it makes it feel effortless.”
“It makes the consumer think that all you have to do is look cute, have a fancy car and boom – you can get a deal,” she said.
Freedman elaborated into a story published by Inman Friday, arguing that real estate reality shows could open the industry up to closer scrutiny.
“The real estate industry is under attack from lawmakers over the commission structure,” Freedman told the publication. “And I think these shows perpetuate a myth that real estate is glamorous, get-rich-quick, easy, and that’s why it’s kind of right to go after real estate professionals.”
Freedman also attacked the “over-sexualization of women in shows like ‘Selling Sunset'”.
“They’re all women with very short skirts, their breasts are sticking out, sometimes they don’t even have [pants] down,” she told Inman. “What does this say to women who want to get into the real estate business?”
In a five-minute “raw response” video posted to his Instagram page on Sunday night, Serhant argued that real estate reality shows have benefited the industry by encouraging young people to get into them.
He went on to say that legacy companies like BHS and Elliman, which he seemed to compare to AOL and Blockbuster, are ill-equipped to take advantage of the opportunities created by reality television and “a bit scared”.
Shows like “Million Dollar Listing New York” have “put the idea that being a real estate agent … is something you can do for anyone to millions and millions of people,” Serhant said. “It made the estate agent business more diverse, made it more open to more groups of people and made it something young people would really want to do.”
Serhant went on to say that reality shows “triggered the future of sales” by ushering in a content-based approach to selling goods and building brands around agents.
“We have 20 months, building the business of the future, competing against companies that have been around for hundreds of years or have billions of dollars, or both, and we’re super competitive. And people are a little scared,” he said.
Brown Harris Stevens did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Legacy brands have a presence on reality television, including through one of Serhant’s longtime “Million Dollar Listing” costars, Douglas Elliman’s Fredrik Eklund, who announced in January that he was leaving the show. after 11 years. Elliman alone has had 17 additional agents on reality shows.
Serhant, who started his real estate career in 2008 with Nest Seekers International, rose to fame in 2010 when he was chosen for “Million Dollar Listing New York”. In 2015, Serhant’s exclusives accounted for more than half of Nest Seekers listings, and in 2016 it ranked second in The real deal ranking of the best brokers in Manhattan by sales volume.
He left Nestseekers in 2020 to start his own business, which ranked 11th on TRD2021 brokerage ranking in Manhattan. Serhant himself ranked fourth among the top individual brokerage teams in the borough.