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Ryan Serhant talks tech, real estate changes at Tampa event

Ashley Morales

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Real estate broker and reality TV actor Ryan Serhant spoke at an invite-only event at Embarc Collective March 25 in Tampa. Photos: Ashley Morales.

A real estate broker turned reality TV star discussed his path to success and offered advice at an event in Tampa Monday.

Ryan Serhant is a New York-based real estate broker, author and reality television actor who stars on Bravo’s series Million Dollar Listing New York and its spin-off Sell it Like Serhant. He’s also authored the book Sell It Like Serhant: How to Sell More, Earn More, and Become the Ultimate Sales Machine and launched a Sell it Like Serhant online real estate sales course.

He spoke to a crowd of about 50 people the morning of March 25 at Embarc Collective, a nonprofit that works to support tech entrepreneurs in Florida. The event was part of Embarc’s “Builder Series,” a quarterly educational program providing access to business and thought leaders who share their leadership lessons that led to success in their respective careers.

At the program, which is supported by Hillsborough County’s Economic Development Innovation Initiative (EDi2), Serhant touched on a range of topics, including the emergence of tech in the real estate industry. His view is that artificial intelligence (AI) will not replace the human element of real estate, but rather help streamline and expedite a traditionally complicated process. 

“You have proprietary tech and AI to take a five-hour task and turn it into five minutes, but you still need that human interaction there, that human support,” Serhant said. “I think the real magic comes into [a computer knowing], what is that next action going to be? So if I make this phone call, the next action is going to be X, and that action gets done because computers now have agency, which they’ve never had before. As long as we have trust in that agency, then amazing things can happen. I think that’s where we’re going to start to see real disruption in the sales process.”

Serhant encouraged attendees to “use fear as your fire” and “appreciate the failures as much as the wins.” The event was part of Embarc Collective’s “Builder Series.”

Serhant also touted the benefits of emerging tech for the average person, empowering homeowners with tools to help them organize and store their sensitive documents and important information in new ways.

“As far as real estate is concerned, a really, really interesting paradigm shift that we’re seeing is with Blockchain technology, and having a kind of key where you can find all of your data, like your deed or your title, your mortgage paperwork,” Serhant said. “You might have it in One Drive or a Google Doc or in your email, or maybe you’ve got to remember who that person was who helped you, and you’ll call them, but they don’t work at that bank anymore. So that whole process will be cleaned up.”

The fireside chat with Serhant was moderated by Lakshmi Shenoy, CEO of Embarc Collective. Shenoy guided the conversation to realtor commissions, which are now in flux in the wake of lawsuit settlements with home sellers over commission payments. While many in the real estate industry feel shaken by this change to the real estate commission structure, Serhant – like much of his advice to the Tampa crowd – was optimistic.

“I had this conversation on CNBC on Monday of last week, and I said, ‘Great service is expensive, but bad service costs a fortune.’ I know it sounds like a sales-y line, and they came at me pretty hard on the show for saying that, but it’s true,” Serhant said. “ I don’t know exactly what’s going to happen now, but I always choose to see the glass half full, so I think that we’re going to have a more transparent market, for the better.”

Although Serhant touched on broad, topical concepts like the importance of branding, dealing with life in the spotlight (he has another new show coming to Netflix in 2024) and maintaining work/life balance, the millionaire real estate magnate kept the conversation optimistic and light, joking throughout the event and even calling his wife, Emilia Bechrakis, on FaceTime to greet the crowd. 

When Embarc Collective CEO Lakshmi Shenoy told Serhant how much she admires his wife, lawyer Emilia Bechrakis, and her entrepreneurial spirit, Serhant called Bechrakis (who’s currently traveling in Greece) to say hello via FaceTime.

Serhant also touched on his firm’s expansion into Tampa, calling the market “undervalued.”

“I think the brand of Tampa is changing. I think Tom Brady helped a little bit,” he laughed. “We do a lot of business on the east coast of the state, but my goal is to do as much as I can for the Tampa Bay market as we’ve done on the East Coast and as we’ve done in New York. We want to help homeowners drive pricing, help buyers get better deals, help renters and landlords; really help move the industry forward as much as we can across all marketplaces.”

Shenoy capped off the conversation by asking Serhant about how he deals with stress in the face of success.

“If I could go back in time, I don’t know if I would have started three businesses, plus a book, plus a podcast, plus a new TV show, plus a house renovation, plus a new baby, all at the same exact time. Yeah, that was a lot,” Serhant said. “I am relatively delusional. Like, if I didn’t think that I could go and do all these crazy things all day, I wouldn’t do them and then I wouldn’t be able to provide the way that I do, and I also think I wouldn’t be happy. So I’m not super delusional, just a little delusional. It’s all about setting expectations.”

The event offered an opportunity for real estate professionals and entrepreneurs to learn from Serhant’s struggles and successes. Sean Menke, a Realtor with Smith & Associates for nearly 10 years, said he found value in the actionable strategies and relatable life advice he heard from Serhant.

“I think we constantly need to be reminded to take swings, and that failure is just a really positive thing,” Menke said. “I truly believe that if someone like [Serhant], who has been through a hell of a lot more than most of us, can have that positive mindset and still show up here today, I can just really respect that.”

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2 Comments

2 Comments

  1. Avatar

    Laura

    March 28, 2024at7:40 am

    You meant to say “sell like Serpent” didn’t you? Go home, sell New York and stop making it impossible for locals to age in place!

  2. Avatar

    Steven Brady

    March 25, 2024at3:18 pm

    So AI isn’t going to replace humans set the speaker? Let’s use his example.

    The transition from a traditional five-hour task to one that takes only five minutes with the aid of artificial intelligence represents a staggering 98.33% reduction in the time required. This efficiency gain not only underscores the transformative potential of AI in streamlining operations but also translates to the task being completed 60 times faster than before.

    It sure seems like some human labor is going to disappear permanently.

    And as for real estate commissions? Clark Howard published Monday, March 25, 2024. On average the US costs 300% more for real estate Realtor fees than average. He said it was the highest in the world by a wide margin. Check it out on youTube.

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