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Madison Hildebrand – What Makes Madison Run?

Madison Hildebrand

What Makes Madison Run?

By Ronald Sklar

Real estate agent (and mogul) Madison Hildebrand, the guy with the million-dollar smile, walks us through high-powered negotiating and breathtaking Malibu properties on Bravo's Million Dollar Listing.

If the stakes weren't high enough when times are good, current real-estate market woes make this compelling series even more watchable. Not that you will shed any tears for the movers and shakers in this tax bracket, but you'll cheer for Hildebrand as he kicks real estate butt in a sea of FOR SALE signs.

"There is a lot of negativity coming at me," he tells me from – where else? – the cell phone in his car. "Especially when there are 300 agents in Malibu at any given time, and 250 listings. It's very competitive and I am very young and I look even younger.

"[When I was starting out,] I had no real estate experience and very limited business experience.

"Once I made up my mind to get into the business, I stuck with the winners and always aligned myself with the people who supported me. I decided to give it 100%. And if I was committed to it, then hopefully the people who were in my life would see that I was committed to it and give me a chance."

Although he looks like a babe in the woods, Hildebrand can buy and sell you. Or at least eat you for breakfast and then spit you out. You get the idea: big deals. Big deal. Lotsa drama. A young'n dealing with the Big Boys. It puts a new coat of paint on the old real estate reality show formula.

What makes Madison run?

"It's something in me that I don't necessarily know how to explain because it's been in me since I was a kid," he says. "I'm competitive by nature. I've been an entrepreneur since I was five, selling lemonade. I had my own recycling business, had a car washing business all before I was eleven. So it was all these kinds of ideas that my parents let me explore when I was a kid. It's been the same kind of passion, to achieve.

"My dad climbed the corporate ladder, so we moved about eight or nine times. I lived in nice neighborhoods and went to nice schools. It was a little bit like this [Malibu], but not to the degree where I'm flying private jets and things.

"Real estate is not what I wanted to do when I grew up, but every time we went house hunting, my brothers had no interest, and I was always there with my parents, going to every house, learning how to interact with the realtors. I thought it was fascinating. I did take part in all of those moves."

Those moves seemed to be all the right ones. Now, as an adult, he has sold over $80 million in cribs in just over two years and has been initiated into the top 2% of all Coldwell Banker agents around the world. Not too shabby – and neither are the homes he shows off for the top one percent of the world who can afford it.

Townhouse developments these are not.

"It's still exciting, but to be honest, I am jaded," he says. "I used to go into a $30 million home and be so high for the rest of the day. I would call my mother and go, 'oh my God, I just saw such an amazing property.' Now I'll walk through a $30 million home and I'm talking on my cell phone the whole time. But I still appreciate the architecture and the views, and it is all still wonderful. I love my job, but now it's definitely a different level of thrills that I get out of it."

This new level includes a series that's hasn't shown this much glamour since Dynasty.

Still, Hildebrand is keeping it real.

"It's opened up new doors, but not to the degree where I am a different person at all," he says. "My focus is creating a successful real estate business. That's my full-time job. All the other entertainment stuff and those opportunities are just kind of perks. They get my listings and my clients out there."

His clients, by the way, are often people he rarely meets. In most cases, he deals with his people's "people."

"I didn't ever speak to the client," he says of his early years, which were not all that long ago. "I was only speaking to the attorney and the business manager. It was definitely intimidating because these people were 25 years my senior and they had all that experience.

"The people on this level are more sophisticated, but I say that because they have done more real estate transactions. Sometimes they have more business experience. And they also have a lot of business advisors. Getting through a transaction and making real estate decisions is a lot easier for them. They are not as emotionally attached because they own four or five homes. They are moving and shaking, and they aren't connected to the property like first-time homebuyers and people who have been there for ten or fifteen years."

Speaking of which, Hildebrand offers some practical advice for the rest of us.

He says, "When you are searching for a home, there are always certain things that will benefit you no matter what class or what location. I truly believe in finding a great real estate agent who knows the area extremely well. They have the first indication as to what deals are coming up and how the market is doing. They know how to look for a property that has been on the market for a long time that has had a price reduction and is really ready to be negotiated. They can help you negotiate a better deal given the situation that you are negotiating. I truly believe that a real estate agent can bring value to the table if you have the right one. You want to have the trust and everything going there.

"Second to that, if you are not a real estate investor, and if you don't have a lot of experience flipping homes, it is in your best interest to work with somebody who has experience in the first go round. A lot of people have lost a lot of money in this recent market downturn. They overspent or they didn't buy the right property. Also, make sure you are qualified and what your purchasing power is. Especially today. The banks are confusing."

The Malibu market, however, is holding its own. He says, "Our prices have seemed to be pretty stable. There are some good deals out there. The high end is still doing particularly well, meaning ten million and above. We still have limited inventory and a lot of money in the community. In my opinion, it's still holding pretty strong. It's lower, but it's still holding strong."

Hildebrand himself continues to hold strong, as he prepares for a September pictorial in Playgirl (sorry, gals and some boys, no nudity).

"Malibu is my lifestyle," he says about the place he fell in love with as a student at Pepperdine University. "I go surfing and hiking and do yoga. I have two dogs that I spend a lot of time with. I'm always doing something active. I enjoy the outdoors. It's definitely a way to keep myself balanced. If I'm not working out, then I'm overworking or not giving myself down time. It's kind of a barometer for me. Having two dogs grounds me too. They require attention no matter what."

Judging from the popularity of the first season of his Bravo show, he himself will be requiring attention for some time to come.

Copyright ©2008 All rights reserved. Posted: April 23, 2008.

Photo Credits:

#1 ©2006. Courtesy of Bravo. All Rights Reserved,

#2 ©2008. Courtesy of Anderson Public Relations. All Rights Reserved,

#3 ©2006 Vivian Zink. Courtesy of Bravo. All Rights Reserved,

#4 ©2006 Vivian Zink. Courtesy of Bravo. All Rights Reserved,

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