From left: Ryan Serhant, Christopher Johnson, Cameron LeCates, Ravi Kantha, Stanley Montfort and Gian Mitchell (Leslie Garfield, Serhant, Getty)
Serhant picked up five brokers from boutique firm Leslie Garfield, sapping the townhouse-focused firm of its top team and one of its top agents.
Broker Ravi Kantha was a founding member of the firm’s top-selling team. The Real Deal’s ranking of New York City’s top brokers in 2022 by sell-side volume placed the Lesser Kantha team at seventh overall with $186 million in on-market deals.
Kantha joined the firm in 2015, and was brought on as an assistant to 18-year industry veteran Matthew Lesser eight months later. The duo, former lawyer Kantha and senior firm partner Lesser, went on to grow the team to seven people and Kantha helmed their expansion into Brooklyn.
The team’s priciest deals in 2023 include the $17.4 million sale of a 10-bedroom townhouse in the West Village in September and an Upper East Side townhouse that closed for $13.8 million in October, according to StreetEasy.
At Serhant, Kantha said he plans to expand his business beyond the townhouse market to include resale and new development sales.
Joining Kantha at Ryan Serhant’s firm are Cameron LeCates and Christopher Johnson, both previously members of the Lesser Kantha team. Also moving is broker Stanley Montfort, whose website bills himself as a brownstone and rowhouse specialist, and an administrative staffer who will work as an agent at Serhant.
Lesser said the firm was “already in the process of filling the void.”
It’s unclear what the loss from the top team will mean for Leslie Garfield, which has been a mainstay among the city’s top-selling firms because of its niche in the high-dollar townhouse market.
The firm finished 13th in TRD’s 2023 rankings of top Manhattan brokerages, with $164 million in on-market, sell-side volume.
The firm in 2015 began a partnership with London-based brokerage Beauchamp Estates, also specialized in townhouses. The joint venture prompted speculation the two boutique companies could merge, but no deal ever materialized.
Kantha’s move to Serhant bolsters the up-and-coming brokerage’s presence in Brooklyn. The firm — which ranked fifth among the borough’s top brokerages last year— heads sales at some major new development projects in Brooklyn such as the Huron in Greenpoint.
Serhant’s emphasis on social media — complete with an in-house studio — was a big draw, according to Kantha.
“It’s never easy parting ways with someone you’ve worked with for a long time,” Kantha said of his exit from the partnership with Lesser, who he said was “instrumental in helping him learn the ways of the business.”