West Coast real estate tycoon and star of Bravo’s Million Dollar Listing Los Angeles, Josh Altman, 40, was born in Boston and raised in Newton. After graduating from Newton South High School, he attended Syracuse University, where he was a kicker on the football team that won two consecutive Big East Championships, allowing him to play in the Orange Bowl and the Fiesta Bowl. After college, Altman spent a short time in New York before moving to LA in 2003. With his brother, Matt, he started the boutique real estate agency the Altman Brothers, which caters to celebrities and high net-worth individuals. To date, they’ve sold more than $3 billion in real estate. Altman currently resides in Beverly Hills with his wife, Heather—who’s expecting their second child—and their daughter, Alexis, as well as three rescue dogs.
Jonathan Soroff: Is real estate intrinsically sexy?
Josh Altman: Sexiest business in the world. Real estate porn is a helluva lot better than regular porn.
Favorite client of all time? Let’s show a little love to my hometown, the greatest city in the world, Boston. I’m going to say it’s a tie between Julian Edelman, Super Bowl champ, and Paul Pierce. It’s all about Boston.
World’s most prestigious address? In my opinion, Mapleton Drive in Holmby Hills. It’s the neighborhood where Spelling Manor is, and the Playboy Mansion.
Biggest mistake most people make when buying real estate? One of two things: Thinking they can afford more than they really can, and seeing houses out of their price range, which screws everything up.
How about sellers? Overpricing.
Do you think you could sell any house anywhere? I could sell a doghouse, a tepee or an igloo. If it’s a house, I’ll put a price on it and find a buyer somewhere.
Biggest obstacle to overcome in selling? Everybody thinks their house is worth more than it really is.
How many times have you moved? Once a year, I tend to move. I see 10 houses a day, 340 days a year, and my wife and I fall in love with a different house probably once a week. And once every six months, we find the one we can afford, and we buy it. So we’ve become expert movers. I should open a moving company.
When you see the show, do you recognize yourself? Well, it’s only part of me. You don’t see the full me, but I do think the show represents my love, and aggressiveness, and passion, and expertise when it comes to real estate. It does a good job with that.
Most authentic part of the show? The real estate.
The fakest? I yell at a helluva lot more people in real life than I do on the show.
Have you ever sold the same property multiple times? I’ve sold one house three different times, and every time, the client made money.
Three things your dream house would have? A poker room, because I was supposed to have one in my new house that I’m building right now, and that got vetoed for a playroom for my daughter. A helipad, so I can get to my listings faster. And a 10-car garage, so I don’t have to leave my cars on the street.
What’s the latest amenity that high-end clients are demanding? Well, it hasn’t really changed much. We live in Hollywood, so you’ve gotta have the most tricked-out, state-of-the-art screening room. Other than that, high ceilings and views.
Most bizarre amenity a client ever demanded? I’m selling a house right now that comes with a multimillion dollar boat. I’m selling another where you get a 24/7 concierge and staff for a year included in the sale. I’ve seen it all. I’m negotiating a sale where the house next door has a tennis court, and I’m working on a pathway and hours on the court with the neighbor.
Most difficult client you ever had, and why? The most difficult clients are the ones who don’t know what they want. One day, they want to live in Calabasas, the next day it’s Beverly Hills. Then they want to spend $5 million, and then they say $1 million. One day they want modern, the next they want Spanish. It’s just running around in circles.
Greatest lengths you’ve ever gone to for a sale? Well, I’m pretty well-known for being willing to do anything within reason to close a deal. I work my ass off on every sale, and I’ll do whatever it takes for every deal. But I once flew to London to have lunch with the buyer and then got back on the plane and flew home. That was fairly stupid.
Hardest part of working with your brother? The fact that he still thinks he can kick my ass like I was 6 and he was 9.
Are you always willing to walk away from a deal? Always. A true negotiator is always willing to walk away.
First rule of business? Everything’s negotiable.
If you weren’t in real estate, what do you think you’d do? I’d be the most badass talent agent, Ari Gold style. I’d also be a helluva car salesman.
Anyone you’d never work with again? I realized that I was truly successful in real estate the first time I fired a client, and I’ve done it dozens and dozens of times since. I actually get almost as much satisfaction from firing a client as closing a deal these days.
Biggest indulgence? Bumble Bee tuna fish.
What do you view as your greatest strength? My greatest strength is that I can bench press 300 pounds. And I pulled 10 muscles doing it. ◆