Marketing Genius

Insights from the most brilliant minds in real estate

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Matt Barba & Seth Price

The Ego Problem with Pat Hiban

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Real estate is built on personal branding. Whether you work for a major franchise or an indie brokerage, your first responsibility as an agent is growing your own list of clients and prospects. And with all that branding comes ego. It’s everywhere, from bus stop ads to websites and everywhere in between.

Some would argue that ego is an asset—project confidence, they say, and your audience will take notice. But for Pat Hiban, ego has a way of coming back to haunt you.

If anyone deserves to have an ego, it’s probably Pat: he’s one of a few agents to have sold over a billion dollars worth of homes over the course of his career. Now, he manages a real estate team, hosts a popular podcast, and owns Rebus University, a sales training organization.

As Pat explains, many agents are determined to generate business by any means necessary, leading to expenses that seriously cut into their profits—a phenomenon Pat calls “Ego Commission Income (ECI),” a twist on Gross Commission Income. “It’s easy to buy a business now,” Pat told us. From television and radio, to Zillow and Realtor.com, agents are essentially paying money to make money—something Pat admits he’s done in the past. “I made it to the top agent at that office, I made it to the top agent in that county, and the top five in the state. [But in] my tax returns that year, I made 10 grand, and it was all because of ego.”

Today, Pat preaches the value of being conservative, as well as building strong systems behind the scenes to capitalize on every opportunity, no matter how small. To illustrate this, Pat compares the real estate business to Las Vegas. “For the decade between 1997 and 2007, we as real estate agents were at a winning craps table,” he explained. “So everyone started coming to this hot craps table, we kept winning everything we touched.” But in 2008, that all changed, leaving behind too many agents who’d spent all their money.

“I don’t care if you’re 27 years old,” Pat said. “Winter will come at some point, and you want to have some wealth built for that. So don’t be shy about making 400 grand and putting it on your pocket…you need to be taught that that’s an okay thing.”
In this interview, Pat Hiban reveals the potential costs of ego in real estate, and explains how an ego-killing decisions like price reductions can actually make your business stronger.

- Seth
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