Confessions of a Real Estate Agent
Hollywood power broker Josh Altman talks midnight showings, the power of the pocket listing and having Kimye as a client
“There’s a joke in the entertainment business that anyone, at any time, can stab you in the back. In the real estate business, it’s the same, except we stab you in the front. We very openly do what’s necessary to get the listing. I will compete with anyone, even my girlfriend.
“She’s an agent too. All we talk about is real estate. Other couples might not understand, and then they might not want to go to dinner with us, because we’re always on the phone. But we work other people’s hours. I’ve done showings at midnight because clients wanted to see what the house would be like at bedtime. Or at 5 a.m. so they can hear what it sounds like when the dump trucks drive by.
“I never planned on working in real estate. After college, I followed my older brother, Matt, to L.A. to work in entertainment. I took a job in the mailroom of a big agency. We were very good about saving, though, so we pooled what we had and bought a house. We made some simple improvements. Then the market picked up and we were like, ‘This place looks great, maybe we should try to sell.’ And we did. For $200,000 more than we’d paid three months earlier. I quit the mailroom that day.
“Matt also gave up his career as a talent agent, and six years ago we started The Altman Brothers. We sell to and for everyone: CEOs, Saudi princes, Kim and Kanye, you name it. I’m known as the master of the pocket listing—properties that aren’t advertised. Last year, we hit $200 million, including the most expensive one-bedroom in the history of California, at $20 million, which is just insane.
“Famous people always come with an entourage—business managers, attorneys, dog walkers—but it’s the businessmen who bring the biggest drama. Those guys approach the negotiation as a game, and if they don’t win it, they don’t want it. So you’d better be on top of things. You’d better, for example, not walk into a house for a final showing while someone’s shooting an adult movie. I did not sell that house.”