On television he’s unapologetically confident and cut throat, but when it comes down to it the most important things in Million Dollar Listing’s Josh Altman’s world are his family, friends, and clients. He spoke to me about his road to success, his love for his industry, and why he encouraged Heather to stand up to Madison.
TBB: Good afternoon Josh. I read you played college football. Can you tell me about that?
JA: I was one of the kickers on the Big East Championship Syracuse University Football Team. I played for a couple of years and I feel that it prepared me for what I do right now. It’s a pressure filled position kicking in front of 80,000 people, it helped me learn to handle the types of pressure in situations I face in real estate. I always played sports. I was a soccer player also. Playing college ball was great, I had fun doing it!
TBB: You were a communications major at Syracuse, many graduates of that program go on to broadcasting careers, how did you end up in real estate?
JA: I was a speech communications major, I got into real estate by chance, not planned. I actually came out to LA for music management. I started out in the mail room at a well known record agency. I worked there for a year getting coffee, running errands. At the same time my brother and I put all our money together and bought our first condo. That was around 2002-2003 when the economy was booming. We bought it and did some interior work on it. When we were finished we thought it looked better than it had before so 3 or 4 months later we decided to put it back on the market. We made a profit and I found real estate was something I wanted to do. My favorite thing to do still is building homes. We flipped some more properties and I realized how much money was going to the mortgage brokers so I got my broker’s license. Then the market collapsed so I got on the agent’s side. I think all these components lead to me being a successful agent.
TBB: You are originally from Massachusetts, and went to school in upstate NY, why did you leave New England for SoCal?
JA: My brother was out here and we are really close. I knew that whatever business we gotinto we would want to work together, so I wanted to be where he was.
TBB: Your brother Matt is still your business partner. How come we don’t see him on MDLLA?
JA: You will see him a little bit in the last episode. We wanted to keep one of us off the show and one of us on, let one person be in the limelight and the other behind the scenes. People don’t realize how much he is involved in every deal we do because of this, but he works very hard and is a huge part of this business.
TBB: Tell me about your professional ties to the Hilton family and how their mentorship has helped you build your business.
JA: I work for Hilton and Hyland which is literally the top company on the planet. For perspective, H&H sold over 1.5 billion dollars in real estate last year between its 90 agents. Large real estate companies with thousands of agents didn’t do that volume. Rick Hilton and Jeff Hyland are legends in the business. They are here working every day even though they could retire. Jeff Hyland wrote The Legendary Estates of Beverly Hills which chronicles the history of 50 of the most historic homes here. In business, like in sports, you want to surround yourself with the best. Every one here is a hitter. I’m in the office 8am-8pm and when I’m not I’m showing properties. This is my lifestyle and I love it!
TBB: After a brief appearance on Keeping Up with the Kardashians you came into MDLLA in season 4 to replace former cast member Chad Rogers. How did it all happen?
JA: I got a call from (MDLLA) after I was on The Kardashians. I had also closed a few deals with celebrities around town so they were hearing my name. They reached out and asked if I was interested. I did about 7 interviews, thinking it was just fun, even up until the very end I was not really expecting to get the offer. Initially when I got it I wasn’t going to do it. For the first couple of days I was going to pass it up. I was worried about how it would affect my business, but after talking to my colleagues and clients I figured what better platform to get my name out there. So I said, “What the hell?” It’s been great for business which is through the roof right now despite such a hard time in the market as a whole. A lot of it is hard work, but I’d be lying if I didn’t say the show helps. We are almost at the 100 million dollar salesmark for the year. It’s very exciting and we can’t wait to celebrate!
TBB: You are extremely confident on the show, some may say overly confident. Are you always that, for lack of a better word, cocky? Does it ever have a negative impact on your business?
JA: I like to say I’m confident and I have the numbers to back it up. I wasn’t always like that, however when you get to a certain point in your career confidence comes along with that, but cocky? No, but it’s a reality show and if people think that it’s cool with me. What matters is what my family, friends, and clients think, and they would all say I’m generous and a good guy. However, if everyone else thinks I’m cocky and a good business man, and that’s the worst thing people think, well then it’s OK by me.
TBB: When the anticipated drink throwing argument between Heather (Bilyeu) and Madison (Hildebrand) aired many Tweeters called you out for instigating the fight. We only see the footage that makes the final cut. What happened that night that we did not see?
JA: I think it’s very important for people to understand I was pushing Heather to do something she needed to do. They didn’t see the emails and the calls from Madison saying, “I’m paying you” and then turn around and change his mind. For a young woman trying to make it $7,000 is a lot of money. I thought it was important for Heather to confront him. As the only woman,she represents women on our show. Madison would not see her, answer emails, or calls, so when viewers say it’s the wrong place and the wrong time what they don’t know is that it was the only time. I knew she would feel better if she got it off her chest, and she did.
TBB: What do you think of MDLNY and its cast?
JA: I think it’s great. I love those guys. I worked with Fredrik (Eklund) on a deal. I gave him a referral for a townhouse in Manhattan. He’s a hustler, he’s great. I love watching the New York show. I’m an East Coast guy and I love real estate. I could watch real estate all day.
TBB: You seem to do well with townhouses. I read you sold the highest priced townhouse in the history of your area?
JA: In the history of Santa Monica, yes, we sold it earlier this year for $10.5M. 8,000 square feet on Ocean Ave. Those are New York prices, which is huge to get that here. We are very proud. We also hold the second highest too, which was $4.5M.
TBB: Real estate related television is quite popular. In addition to your show there’s Open House on NBC and several on HGTV. Why do you think your industry makes for such great TV?
JA: Real estate is something that every one is interested in, especially now in this economy. You either have it and want to know what your home is worth, want to know about it, or just want to dream about it. Even when you see the mansions on our show, it’s nice after a long day of work to relax and see these crazy houses.
TBB: Thank you for talking with me today. Is there anything else you would like people to know about you?
JA: I’m a big family guy. My family is very important to me. People who know me know I will also do anything for my clients, I treat their money like my own. I love what I do and I’m having fun!