5 ‘Owning Manhattan’ moments we can’t stop thinking about

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Ryan Serhant’s return to reality TV is official. Unlike Million Dollar Listing, where Serhant got his start, this show is solely focused on his eponymously named brokerage, SERHANT, and it’s on Netflix, rather than Bravo.

The show follows 11 New York City SERHANT agents with various experience levels at the less than 5-year-old brokerage, which boasts bespoke penthouses, new developments and a reality TV-seasoned leader. From there, the drama ensues, but within the folds of real estate, unlike other real estate reality TV shows, as Inman’s Lillian Dickerson pointed out.

If you’re not yet acquainted with the brand new cast, read “Meet the SERHANT. agents on Netflix’s ‘Owning Manhattan.’”

But if you’re ready to rehash some of the most memorable storylines of the season, read on.

Spoiler Alert: Here’s your fair warning that there will be spoilers below.

The rookie’s rough road

If you are a real estate agent, you probably can relate to young Savannah Gowarty. As the season kicks off, she’s the newest agent of the cast.

“Savannah is one of our newest agents. She’s a Southern belle,” Ryan Serhant says in a poor imitation of a Southern accent. “I saw a unique personality in her, a real hunger to survive and thrive. And so I told her that she could join our firm under what we call our Apprentice Program.”

Because Serhant saw potential in her, Gowarty left the custom homebuilder she worked for and moved to the Big Apple. This is a far cry from the slower-paced life she’s used to in North Carolina, where, as she points out to her colleague Jessica Markowski, you hear birds and cicadas when dining outdoors at a patio restaurant, as opposed to the traffic and noise pollution that’s inescapable in NYC.

She’s already experiencing a bit of culture shock as she acclimates to the city, and she’s swimming in rentals while trying to prove she’s got the tenacity to do more.

“New York real estate is just a completely different animal, but I came to the city because I want to build an empire,” Savvannah Gowarty says.

“My goal at SERHANT. is to work my way up and sell multimillion-dollar properties. But right now, because I’m new to New York City, I have to start with rentals,” the newbie tells viewers.

She adds. “I could have easily stayed in North Carolina, but I wanted more for myself, and I know I can make it here.”

As Gowarty struggles to get leads, Jessica Markowski — who describes herself as a Kim Kardashian and Ryan Serhant all rolled up into one — offers to let her help. (Markowski previously worked at a company founded by Kardashian.) She tells Gowarty that she has a ton of clients and would love some help, seemingly the beginning of a beautiful partnership (more on that later).

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Owning Manhattan. (L to R) Savannah Gowarty, Chloe Tucker Caine and Jessica Markowski from episode 105 of Owning Manhattan. Credit: Courtesy of Netflix/© 2024 Netflix, Inc.

All of her frustrations of not being able to get leads (and make money) and shady co-workers build, and finally, Gowarty asks to have a personal conversation with Serhant, the CEO who’s struggling with the growing pains of turning a team into a 600-agent brokerage.

The conversation is awkward, simply due to Gowarty’s inexperience and Serhant’s responses. Throughout the conversation, Serhant vacillates between looking uncomfortable and terrified that she might cry; she did not.

She lets him know that she’s actively being recruited by another company that’s offering her guaranteed salary for a few months and deal flow, an offer she tells Serhant that other agents are telling her she’d be stupid not to take. She then asks Serhant, what would he do if he were in her shoes.

“I’d stick with the winning ticket,” Serhant tells her. “You going with another team and another firm that is giving you something nice and shiny is betting on them. You staying here is betting on yourself. And that’s a decision that only you can make.”

“We’ve had, like, one one-on-one [meeting] since I’ve been here. I just, I would like more attention from you,” she tells Serhant, who scoffs a bit and laughs before turning back to her dead serious face. Gowarty continues, “I know I have potential. I’m fully confident that I’m going to be very successful at this. But if I stayed here, I need more deal flow. If I could be on a team here that was producing enough to save me a little bit more, I would stay in a heartbeat. I want to know if you would be able to offer that.”

At that moment, Serhant tells her that it takes time to build relationships and that he thinks that she might have some unrealistic expectations about how quickly her career is supposed to go.

“Things take time. If you want a little bit more one-on-one time with me, that’s what I’m here for,” Serhant says. “But this is not the company where you come for a handout.”

In a confessional, Serhant reveals more about what he was thinking at the time: “This is a two-way street. I don’t owe you anything. I’ve got hundreds of agents who are doing business every day that I actually do feel like I owe something to. And to then come to me and say, I’ve got another offer unless you give me stuff. Uh, OK.”

Spoiler alert: Gowarty is no longer at SERHANT. She’s now with Elevated Advisement, a team under Compass.

Let’s give Gowarty a little credit here, though. She went to her boss and asked for what she wanted, though maybe not fully understanding that real estate isn’t exactly like your typical 9-to-5, but what she did takes courage. And not once did she bring up the drama she was dealing with between her, Markowski and another agent, which comes to a head in the next memorable moment.

The podcast heard ’round the world

As previously stated, Markowski offered to help Gowarty, but within a few short episodes, Markowski’s allegiances change as she cozies up to the hubristic former model Jonathan Nørmølle, who feels like he’s paid his dues because, as he often says, he (and his team) sold $100 million in his first year of real estate.

Markowski tells Nørmølle that Gowarty said she wanted to work with older, experienced agents, and Gen Zer Nørmølle took it as a personal affront.

In Episode 4, after sending a scathing, “condescending” email to Gowarty and not responding to her response, she confronts Nørmølle and Markowski during podcast planning.

“Experience has nothing to do with someone that’s older, right? I did $100 million in sales in my first year in business,” Nørmølle says.

To which Gowarty quickly fires back, “That was on a team.”

“It doesn’t matter. I’ve done $550 million since I started. Yeah. Ryan recruited me,” Nørmølle says.

“He recruited me, too,” Gowarty retorts.

“Did you get a bonus when you got recruited?” Nørmølle asks.

“Does that really matter?” Gowarty asks.

“It does. Otherwise, you just got picked,” Nørmølle says. He then puts her on the spot, asking if she’d know what to do with a $5 million listing. She confidently says she’d know exactly what to do but declines to enumerate the particulars.

At the end of the pettiest conversation of the season, the trio agrees not to work together moving forward.

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Owning Manhattan. (L to R) Savannah Gowarty, Jessica Markowski and Jonathan Frank Normolle from episode 104 of Owning Manhattan. Credit: Courtesy of Netflix/© 2024 Netflix, Inc.

Then, after that, Markowski and Nørmølle make a podcast — using SERHANT. Studios — and badmouth many of the agents on the cast and in their office.

After humblebragging about being models, though from very different backgrounds, they launch into how much better they are than their colleagues.

“Jade Shenker is a New York socialite, and in every single video she posts, she talks about how her dad is a real estate tycoon and mom was a model,” Nørmølle says.

“For some reason, I don’t like the culture of hyping too much, more than you need to. And I feel like Jordan [Hurt] hypes knowing everyone,” she says.

“And I’m OK with saying Jordan March as well,” he says. “And same with Chloe [Tucker Cain]. Chloe is just all talk. It’s like you don’t have to try that hard, and it’s OK.”

“It’s like anybody that are in their 30s or 20s or whatever that has millions of dollars, they would rather — much rather — go with you and me than some fucking dude in a blue suit and bald, you know, half car salesman, I can promise you that,” he says of Nile Lundgren. 

“So we are bridging that gap. And this might sound cocky, but there’s no competition at all. For example, Savannah [Gowarty] right, with her, what the fuck would she do with the deal? What would she do with the deal? Like, if I was running it and if I owned the firm … I wouldn’t give her a deal. She would fumble it. Then Ryan loses money. If Ryan gives deals to us, he knows we’ll close it. So there’s a difference there, right? And there’s a track record,” he continues. 

Of course, the duo’s colleagues are more than peeved, but this podcast also results in a rather uncomfortable conversation between Serhant and Nørmølle. Serhant meets the agent at a new development, high up amid the unfinished walls of concrete.

“When you’re a broker in New York City, this is what you want. You want to be able to have relationships with architects, with general contractors, with interior designers, with developers, so they look to you, and they trust you … You want to have buildings like this, which is the whole reason that I brought you on. If you don’t act professional and if you make podcasts — in my podcast studio, that I pay for, that’s there for you to get business to do more sales — and if you use them to bad mouth and gossip other agents — not even at other companies…” Serhant tells Nørmølle.

Nørmølle tries to interject here, which Serhant promptly squashes.

“You spend so much of your time trying to get noticed, instead of spending your time trying to be great. If you spent half your time just trying to be great, you’d be so great. Everyone would have to notice you,” he adds.

“Any time you associate yourself with any negativity, it is a negative reflection on you. And because I allowed you to work with me, it is then a negative reflection on me and a negative reflection around the whole company. So you need to take that podcast down everywhere that you have [it posted]. I already took care of it on our side, but you’re gonna apologize to Savannah. And if you don’t, you’re gonna have whatever kind of career you want, but it’s not gonna be with me. Do you understand?” Nørmølle acknowledges the statement.

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Owning Manhattan. (L to R) Ryan Serhant and Jonathan Frank Normolle from episode 102 of Owning Manhattan. Credit: Courtesy of Netflix/© 2024 Netflix, Inc.

In true reality TV fashion, Nørmølle gives an epically terrible apology to Savannah. He does apologize, but then tells her he’s only apologizing to her because Serhant told him he had to.

Then, he proceeds to lecture her on her behavior.

After wasting another agent’s time “previewing” a listing for an absent, unvetted client and then another incident of not knowing when to keep his mouth shut after Serhant told him to keep quiet and watch how business was done, Serhant finally parts ways with Nørmølle.

“Here’s the deal. I think you’re going to have a huge career. It’s just not going to be here,” Serhant says.

Spoiler alert: Jonathan Nørmølle is no longer with SERHANT. He’s now with The NextGen Team at Highline Residential.

Newbie beats veteran in plant smackdown

One of the more fun dramas to watch this season is the in-office rivalry between Nile Lundgren and Chloe Tucker Cain. In the first episode, Serhant calls both of them into the office and asks them to head-to-head pitch for a developer, kick-starting the verbal sparring and friendly competition that lasts all season.

“Agents hate competition, but they feed off it. Competition fuels greatness. Nile [Lundgren] is an incredibly accomplished real estate shark. One day he’s in New York City, selling a $30 million mansion, the next day, he’s in Abu Dhabi riding camels with billionaires,” Serhant says of his agent.

“Chloe [Tucker Caine], on the other hand, is hungry for that next step. I think she’s ready for that next step. I could not be more impressed with Chloe cold-calling owners to land a listing in Hudson Square. So I’m giving her a shot at the big leagues. You do this right here, and the possibilities are endless,” he adds.

“I’m still technically considered a rookie, and Nile is one of the top dogs at the company … I want that to be me,” Tucker Caine says.

“Chloe is Broadway. She’s talented. She puts on a show. I think that’s very important in New York City; putting on a show is different from selling real estate,” Lundgren says.

The duo hears all the details about Serhant’s idea: Both agents pitch to the developer, and the winning agent gets the listing. Then, the competition sinks in.

“I’ve really been looking for something that I could really step up and show Ryan how capable I am of taking the next step. And all I have to do is take Nile out — Mr. Clean’s schlubby brother. Like, I got this. Let’s go,” Tucker Caine says.

“Look, at the end of the day, it comes down to experience. Chloe’s the new kid on the block. You know, $20 million deal is not the same as a $2 million deal. That’s for sure. And $20 million is my sweet spot,” Lundgren says.

Unfortunately for Lundgren, it doesn’t come down simply to experience.

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Owning Manhattan. (L to R) Ryan Serhant, Nile Lundgren and Chloe Tucker Caine from episode 102 of Owning Manhattan. Credit: Courtesy of Netflix/© 2024 Netflix, Inc.

Lundgren shows up with a plant, a philodendron native to Brazil, while Tucker Cain shows up with a plan in hand, one that features past successes and shows that she has not only researched the development but also the developer and architect.

The Jardim Building was designed by Brazilian architect Isay Weinfeld, his first commission in the U.S. As Tucker Cain points out, Weinfeld “essentially revolutionized the industry in São Paulo.” His 360° Building comprises 62 apartments, each with their own yard, stacked one on top of the other — a feat that had never been accomplished.   

At Jardim, the apartment units open up into gardens, and large floor-to-ceiling windows showcase the city views. The unit they’re competing over has four bedrooms, 4.5 bathrooms and 4,500 square feet of exterior private rooftop space and a pool, which Lundgren agrees to jump in if he loses the listing.

“Someone did her research; at least you brought a plant,” Serhant teases Lundgren.

After the walkthrough and each agent’s pitch, Serhant sends the agents out so that the developer can make his decision.

Tucker Cain wins the listing with a $600,000 commission attached if it sells.

Of the loss, Lundgren says, “I’d say, whenever you’re in real estate, you have to think with a very short memory. Just like when you play defensive back in football, if you get burnt deep, the next play, you have to forget about it — because you have to play the next play. I lost the Jardim to Chloe. I took an hour out of my day to lament, and then from there, I’m brushing off business as usual. What’s next?”

Tucker Caine throws a hopping launch party, focused on the elements that highlight the apartment’s unique attributes. Lundgren makes good on the bet and jumps in the pool.

One offer comes in at the party, and then three more after that, but all are too low.

It is the completely unexpected offer to rent Jardim that gets the deal done. Why? Because it was for $150,000 a month.

Although this wasn’t Lundgren’s win, he does have an epic win where he brings the buyer for Serhant’s 737 Park Avenue apartment. Together in the backseat of Serhant’s car, after a series of phone calls, one in which the seller hangs up on Serhant, they bridge the gap between a $10.2 million offer and an $11.9 million ask and seal the deal at $11.2 million. In his excitement, Lundgren slaps Serhant’s undoubtedly uber-expensive watch in what was clearly intended to be an amped-up, aggressive, celebratory high five.

Spoiler alert: Although they didn’t know it at the time because of NDAs, that $150,000-per-month rental went to Puerto Rican musician Bad Bunny.

$10M commission

“You can see six different states from this view,” Serhant says as his top five agents (Jordan March, Maggie Wu, Jessica Taylor, Nile Lundgren and Rachel King) check out the Central Park Towers penthouse, which, as the name might indicate, overlooks Central Park.

“It’s the most expensive apartment in the world on the market right now,” Serhant says. “If I don’t get it sold, they give it to another brokerage, which is absolutely not OK with me. Failure is 100 percent not an option.”

This is why, in an attempt to get creative, Serhant offers a 4 percent commission split — a $10 million commission — to whoever brings the buyer. 

“Let’s see if it works,” Serhant says at the close of the scene.  

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Owning Manhattan. (L to R) Ryan Serhant, Jordan March, Maggie Wu, Jessica Taylor, Nile Lundgren and Rachel King from episode 102 of Owning Manhattan. Credit: Courtesy of Netflix/© 2024 Netflix, Inc.

Naturally, when Inman spoke to Serhant ahead of the season launch, we asked him about the listing.

“The penthouse is unlike any other home in the world. It’s a singular trophy property for the right purchaser. We show it all the time. We’ve received multiple offers on it. I’m negotiating an offer on it literally right now,” Serhant told Inman prior to the season launch.

“We have an incredible network as part of Serhant. We have Serhant Signature, which is our high-net-worth division that focuses on properties that are $10 million-plus, so I have a whole department of people that are working that Rolodex and presenting that specific property to the centemillionaires, but mostly the billionaires around the globe, especially all the new billionaires that get created every year. It’s just a process that we go through. Sometimes, properties sell really quickly. Sometimes, they take a little bit of time, just like a piece of art,” he added.

Spoiler alert: The listing is still on the market, but it’s now listed at $195 million.

From Brooklyn to Manhattan

One agent who wasn’t invited to the Central Park Penthouse deal but probably should have been was Tricia Lee. Perhaps mistakenly, Serhant didn’t invite Lee and team to the Central Park Tower braintrust, or possibly she wasn’t invited because she didn’t have the proven track record in Manhattan — yet. When she found out that only a few chosen few were asked to come, you can almost see her mentally set the goal of getting into Serhant’s inner circle, along with a little frustration that she wasn’t included.

Watching the Tricia Lee Team crush it in Brooklyn and set its sights on Manhattan was one of the best parts of the season. In Episode 5, Lee asks Serhant for a few minutes of his time, and as they stroll to the office, the camera pans to the “deal wall,” where agents sign their names when they close a deal (like ringing the bell on Selling Sunset), and viewers see the multitude of “Tricia Lee” entries.

She opens with her successes in townhouses and resales and then lets Serhant know that she feels like she’s caught her stride, but the price points aren’t growing in the way she’d like to see them grow.

“And it’s not enough to just kill it in Brooklyn. I see myself selling $20 million properties in Manhattan. I feel like there are so many opportunities I see in the company, so many great buildings. I feel like I want to be a part of those conversations. I’m just trying to carve out some Manhattan presence,” Lee tells Serhant.

“I’m telling you I can deliver the results, but I have to be given the opportunity. And that’s really why I partnered with you. When I said I needed you to be my Lil Wayne because I was going to be your Drake, it was because I knew how big and bright your star was, but I wanted to build something great as well. And yeah, one day you can say, ‘I had a hand in building Tricia Lee’s career.’”

Serhant’s face gets really serious, and he says, “You’re a good salesperson.” 

Lee’s approach — showing her wins before mentioning her problem and not really asking for anything — is a stark contrast to the conversation earlier in the season with Gowarty, with very different results.

He suggests an idea that will open doors and set Lee’s resume up for future listings of that magnitude. But first, he wants to see what she can do with Brooklyn Point, a new development in her backyard with 115 apartments to sell. The next step after that: new developments in Manhattan.

Lee, of course, kills the meeting with the developer and gets her shot at selling the rest of the building.

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Owning Manhattan. (L to R) Tricia Lee Riley, Nile Lundgren and Genesis Suero from episode 108 of Owning Manhattan. Credit: Courtesy of Netflix/© 2024 Netflix, Inc.

By the end of the season, after a major team defection, Serhant rounds up his top producers; Tricia Lee is front and center as Serhant passes out Cartier watches — which she says is part of her love language — to her, Lundgren and Serhant’s former assistant turned top agent Jordan Hurt.

“There’s relationship advice for when you get married that says, ‘Never stop dating.’ And it’s the same in any company. I don’t want my agents to divorce me. Even if I’m focused on them all the time, I’ve got to make sure I tell them that I’m focused on them. I’ve got to tell them ‘I love you.’ It’s a weird analogy, but for our top salespeople, I want to treat them well, and I want to show them gratitude. So sometimes I need to treat people to steak dinners, just like dating,” Serhant says in a confessional.

He tells the trio that, in all seriousness, he’s focused on retention, and he wants them to be as happy today as they were the day they started at the brokerage. Then he asks for feedback on what he can be doing better as a boss. Lee fairly quickly points to the face time that people often feel like they’ll get with Serhant when they start at the brokerage but aren’t getting, which harkens back to Gowarty’s problem and that awkward conversation from earlier in the season.

This move signals acceptance and moving into Serhant’s inner circle, which Lee has been looking for all season. As she moves into Manhattan, big things are clearly in her future.

Spoiler alert: By the end of the season, Tricia Lee has most of Brooklyn Point sold out, along with promises of future work with the developer and a brownstone in Manhattan from Serhant.

The season ends as Serhant rushes out of his own party to take a meeting that lands him Roman Roy’s Succession apartment — and the building’s remaining $300 million in inventory.

What were your top moments of Owning Manhattan? Share in the comments section below. 

Connect with Dani Vanderboegh via email, Instagram or Facebook. 

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