Ryan Kaplan headshotAgent Feature: Ryan Kaplan

As a developer turned luxury real estate agent, Ryan Kaplan of Douglas Elliman has worn many hats in the NYC real estate scene, including developer, agent, and buyer. He and his partners, Anthony Barillo and Steven Giles, capitalize on their varied skill sets to offer clients a unique white-glove service unlike any other. As early adopters in the StreetEasy Experts program, the trio knows that attracting quality clients is about more than fishing where the fish are. You have to offer clients something they can’t get anywhere else. StreetEasy sat down with Kaplan to get a rundown on how he parlays his professional experience into major success stories.

Q: How did you become a real estate agent?

I was a developer for 10 years. Initially, I worked with one of the top firms in NYC, and then ultimately started my own company with two partners. We hired the Eklund Gomes team to sell out one of our projects, and I learned more about their side of the transaction. I was always licensed, but as we collaborated, I became increasingly more involved with the sales process. I was selling so well that my now-business-partners suggested I join the team if I ever chose to expand out of development. I ultimately decided to give this facet of the industry a real shot. I’ve been onboard since 2019, and I was a top producer on the team by my third quarter there.

Q: This additional layer of experience differentiates you from other agents. It seems as if clients respond to that?

Very much so. My clients have extremely competent professionals to counsel them on their other financial decisions, like savings and investments. Why shouldn’t their real estate advisor be equally capable? Being a great agent should entail more than pointing out finishes that look nice. Because I’ve been involved in the real estate lifecycle from start to finish,  I can offer clients a level of expertise they can’t find elsewhere. My knowledge of the business is vertically integrated, from analyzing the investment opportunity of a transaction to pre-assessing renovation budgets, identifying permitting hurdles, zoning, and so forth. I can offer confident — and more importantly, competent — answers.

Q: How do you acquire new clients?

I’ve been part of the StreetEasy Experts program since it launched, and it has generated a tremendous amount of business for me. Offering a one-stop shop of expertise is one thing, but that doesn’t matter if the person on the other end doesn’t trust you, or doesn’t respect you. Through the Experts program, I’m able to cut through the noise and speak directly to my areas of expertise right up front. Experts leads aren’t reaching out blind. They’re coming to me specifically, for the precise experience I bring to the table. The program is one of the top places I find leads. That and referrals, of course.

 Q: You have been a home buyer yourself, correct? How does that experience impact your approach to selling?

Yes. I’ve bought on the developer’s side, and on the personal side as well. I think a good agent understands that buying real estate is more emotional, and frankly, more impactful on your life than other forms of investments. You never see your bitcoin or stock, but you do see your home, and it affects your life on a daily basis. It’s important to get to know your clients, so you can anticipate their tastes and needs as much as possible. Then you can make an informed recommendation as to which opportunities they should pursue.

Q: Let’s talk about the business side. What’s the key to a good negotiation?

The best strategy is an informed one. On the development side, I regularly produced thorough financial analyses to determine the feasibility of an investment. I use the exact same process when advising clients. I break down the cost benefit of purchasing, renovating, carrying, etc. So the client gets a comprehensive understanding of what the cost structure looks like for each property they’re considering, as well as the potential upside. In a negotiation, people tend to think confidence is enough. But the truth is, when you’re negotiating, it’s very hard to argue with data. If you’re going to say, “We need you to come down,” you have to be able to follow it with, “and here’s why.”

Q: What advice would you offer for less experienced agents?

Aim for both competence and confidence. If you’re really smart, but you sound sheepish on the phone, no one will want to work with you. On the other hand, if you’re overly bombastic and can’t back it up, a more experienced person can smell it. You have to be both. Even if you don’t have the experience, you can still do your research and be the most informed person in the room.