How the pandemic changed the way 'Million Dollar Listing' star Ryan Serhant sells real estate

Real estate agent and reality television star Ryan Serhant.

Like many people, Ryan Serhant thought that the coronavirus pandemic wouldn't be as severe as it turned out to be. "Right when this started, I think we all assumed that it was going to be bad for a bit, but then get better," he says. 

But Serhant, a New York City real estate broker, and the star of the Bravo series "Million Dollar Listing" and "Sell It Like Serhant," has had to shut down most of the operations of his real estate business and stop filming his TV shows for the past few months. In a sense, he's been furloughed. Though he has been able to keep himself busy by creating content for his YouTube channel and touching base with real estate agents across the country who are a part of his members-only sales course.

Serhant is thankful that he's in a better financial position to ride out the crisis than most Americans: The viral outbreak and the economic fallout resulting from it could amount to a "knockout blow" for many households, Catherine Collinson, president and CEO of the Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies, recently told Grow

And though his business plans were derailed for the past few months, he's been able to make the most of his time. Here's how the broker has adapted and stayed energized through the pandemic and is now shifting his focus to the future.

'I've been working the same hours, waking up the same time every day'

Even with his business in a state of suspended animation, Serhant hasn't changed his schedule. "Since [New York Governor] Cuomo shut things down in March, I've been working the same hours, waking up the same time every day. My life hasn't changed, just what I do day in and day out is changed," he says.

Not one to waste time, Serhant has been busy building his library of content on YouTube and planning out his next moves. "I'm not one of those kinds of people who are like, 'Oh, it's the end of the world. I'm going to sit at home and mope about it,'" he says. The pandemic "opened up my time to be able to focus on a lot of the other things I've always wanted to focus on."

How Ryan Serhant is adapting to the coronavirus pandemic

Video by David Fang

The most important thing he's been able to do, he says, is to redirect his focus away from bigger, long-term projects and just live in the moment. He's looking at his current projects and figuring out ways to keep creating content while keeping his employees safe and abiding by state business restrictions. That's required him to slow his pace and to detach, to a degree, or find a sense of "stillness" — a concept author Ryan Holiday discussed in-depth with Grow last year.

For those looking to do the same, Serhant has some advice: Slow down, "take things in," and then use your insights to  "take advantage of the day."

Serhant's financial strategy during the pandemic: Sit tight

Serhant, who has previously shared his investing and financial philosophies with Grow, says that, above all, he's "a long-term investor." No matter what's happening in the stock market or economy day-to-day or week-to-week, he's unlikely to deter from his predetermined strategy — which is exactly what most financial experts recommend.

It's also what investing paragons like Warren Buffett preach: Invest for the long term, and in broad, diversified products like ETFs and index funds.

"There's always gonna be some news, good or bad, every day. In fact, if you go back and read all the papers for the last 50 years, probably most of the headlines tend to be bad," Buffett told CNBC earlier this year. "But if you look at what happens to the economy, most of the things [that] happen are extremely good. I mean, it's incredible what will happen over time."

That's the approach that Serhant takes, too, even as the pandemic has sent the markets into bouts of volatility — first declining nearly 34%, then almost completely recovering, all within a few months.

Ryan Serhant: Why now is a great time to invest in real estate

Video by David Fang

"I don't invest in anything short term. I never have," Serhant says. "Markets go up and markets come down. … If you look at the history books, markets go down either through systemic recessions or through event-based recessions, and then markets come back up."

Because of that, he adds, his "investments are all long term." With time, "everything's going to be OK."

Still, Serhant is itching to get back to work, and bring his employees back, too. Although he knows that things will likely change in the real estate business, as virtual showing and remote deal-making, among other things, become more commonplace, he's looking forward to the future.

"I'm anxious to get back to business as usual as quickly as I can, but it's going to be business as the 'new' usual," Serhant says. "And I think we're all going to have to adapt and figure out what that means for us going forward."

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