There aren’t many players in the rarified atmosphere of $1 million consumer real estate. Most of the people who can afford to buy such properties are at the top of their industry and include entertainers, star athletes and CEO’s of major corporations. This clientele is accustomed to kid glove treatment, and it takes a very special real estate professional to put the deal between buyers and sellers together. Meet Million Dollar Listings’ Josh Altman.
Mike Parker– You grew up on the East Coast and spent some time in the Big Apple. What sparked your move all the way across the country to set up shop in LA? Weren’t there any million dollar properties in New York?
Josh Altman – There are absolutely million dollar properties in New York, but I just love LA. I love million dollar properties under the California sunshine. I started out in real estate by flipping houses. My brother Matt and I put our money together and bought a place. He’s has a great eye for decorating so we re-did the place and put it on the market, really as a joke. We had no intention of doing real estate for a living at the time. We flipped the first house within three months and profited around $250,000. We made more money on that flip than I would have made in three years at work. That’s what got me into the business.
Parker – I’ve never been involved with real estate, beyond buying my home, but used to be a stockbroker, and I think the basic rules for making a profit are pretty much the same: buy low – sell high. Sounds good in theory, but it’s harder to accomplish in real life. You seem to be doing a good job of it. What’s your secret?
Altman – This market is something that I’ve never seen before. Some of the old timers in the industry have seen it, but not me. I’m not personally flipping homes right now. This is not that kind of market. That was possible a few years ago, but now you just have to look for the right deal and they are out there. But you have to have the money to make it happen. People are in trouble and are looking to get out from under their mortgage. One person’s trouble is another person’s opportunity. We make low-ball offers on properties several times per week. Some of them stick; some of them don’t.
Parker – Tell me about the Bravo TV show, Million Dollar Listing.
Altman – This is the show’s 4th season, and it is my first year on it. It has been fantastic. It is not your typical reality show; it is real life. I really do represent these properties, and I really do sell these properties. The thing is, you have to hustle and sell properties, otherwise there is no reason for them to follow you around with a camera. I’m excited about it. My business is booming and I think the show will be good for business.
Parker – How did you get approached to be part of the show, and what made you agree to join?
Altman – I was approached because I’m pretty well known for having a connection with young Hollywood. I was on Keeping Up With the Kardashians. I went back and forth until the last hour trying to decide whether to do the show or not. I mean, I am not an actor; I’m a real estate agent. This is my career and if the show went south, it could take my career with it. But I couldn’t be happier that I’ve done it. I’ve picked up a ton of business because of it. My clients have been more than willing to be on TV. They think it is cool.
Parker – I understand you are partners with your brother, Matt, in your real estate company. What does he bring to the mix?
Altman – Matt has a background in the entertainment business that is priceless. He’s been a talent agent at CAA and The Gersh Agency in Beverly Hills. The relationships that he has developed over the years have been priceless. I’m more of the business guy and he is the relationship guy. We each have our niche and when we put it together we are pretty much unstoppable. Besides, we’re brothers. We grew up together and know each other. It is good to have a partner that you can trust 100 percent.
Parker – What’s the worst advice you ever took?
Altman – I think the worst advice is listening to other people who are not doing well in the business. There are a lot of real estate agents out there who aren’t making any money and they can be pretty sour on the whole industry. That negative energy will drag you down if you let it. There is still a lot of money to be made in this market.
Parker – Last words?
Altman – An interesting fact about me and my brother, Matt. We were both college football kickers. I kicked for Syracuse University and Matt kicked for The University of Colorado Buffaloes. Football season gets pretty interesting around our house.
The Seven Questions
1. What’s your favorite sound?
Altman – The ocean.
2. What makes you happy?
Altman – Family. My dogs. Hanging out with friends.
3. What makes you angry?
Altman – People who don’t have any drive.
4. What is the secret of success?
Altman – Hard work. It’s no secret.
5. If you could have dinner with anyone in history, living or dead, who would it be?
Altman – I have a good person and a bad person. The good – I’d love to sit down with my grandfather. The bad – I would like to sit down with Hitler and ask him what the #@%&! he was thinking.
6. What is the epitaph that is written on your tombstone?
Altman – “Great family man. Great businessman. Enjoyed life.”
7. When you get to heaven, what is the first thing you want to hear God say to you?
Altman – “I’m impressed. Not bad, kid.”