Josh Altman: Selling L.A. a Million Dollars at a Time

AUTHOR: Reba Wilson

The average realtor markets through word-of-mouth, mail-outs and the Internet, but Josh Altman has taken to a new medium: reality TV. The Million Dollar Listing Los Angeles star’s personal and work lives are broadcast in 70 different countries to nearly two million people each episode. How’s that for exposure? “As a realtor, the most important thing is having your name out there and marketing yourself,” Altman tells me. Initially wary about the gig, he now says, “it’s basically an infomercial.”

Altman’s skillset centers on marketing the L.A. lifestyle to his many international clients. Recently, he moved to a new firm, Douglas Elliman, to help his team “be more global.” On the staff are people who speak many different languages – Farsi, Russian, Mandarin and Spanish, to name a few. Though viewers saw Altman debut a newly-learned phrase of Mandarin in one episode, he explains that that’s the extent of his Chinese skills; “I barely have time to go to sleep at this point,” so learning a new language is definitely out. That being said, he does focus on the nuances between different cultures, explaining that while he is more assertive when dealing with North American clients, “it’s a totally different story” when working with people of other cultures. “It’s important to know how they look at certain things, how they negotiate,” he says. L.A. real estate has become a popular sell for such clients, as Altman believes “luxury real estate is the new worldwide currency.” He is quick to advocate for the perks of living in L.A., among which is his surprising assertion that “it’s still cheap. Residential property in Los Angeles is still a deal,” compared to other major cities.

If you were followed by cameras between eight and nine months of the year, it’s reasonable to think there would be moments you’d wish hadn’t happen on screen, but Altman tells me he has no regrets, “That’s not how I live my life.” And though the show squeezes whole deals into 60-minute segments, Altman explains that it’s quite true to the deal, minus the fact that the realtors list and sell in a much shorter span.

Altman offers a few pearls of wisdom for would-be negotiators or buyers. The first: “when it comes to negotiating, I think that the second you know that the other party wants the house, they lose all of their leverage. If you act like you don’t need the house, chances are that you’ll end up with a better deal.”

Secondly, Altman advises realtors to conduct open houses, attend all possible luxury events and make sure they tell people what they do for a living. “In the luxury market, I need to be everywhere that’s luxury. That’s part of my job,” Altman adds. For example, the night before I spoke to him was Oscar night and Altman put in an appearance at a party because those kinds of events are where he meets clients. Of course, getting listings is one thing, but keeping them is another. To service a listing, as Altman calls it, he must be in constant contact with the client. While it may just be another listing or deal to Altman, the property at hand is the biggest investment many of the clients will ever have, something he’s careful to always keep in mind.

Though The Altman Brothers sells approximately a million dollars worth of real estate every day, there are deals of which Altman is proudest. Selling the most expensive one-bedroom in the United States for $20.1 million was a highlight, as was selling the most expensive condo in the history of Santa Monica for $11,250,000. Altman is also pleased that he double-ended Tyler Perry’s home and rented a Beverly Hills property for $85,000 a month, one of the highest leases in the area. His other favorite deal was selling his own home, purchased at $2,250,000 and resold for $3.6 million a mere four months after he bought it. “I practice what I preach and invest in real estate,” he says. Through it all, Altman tells me: “I fight for every dollar like it’s my own dollar.” Now there’s a realtor you want to be in your corner.

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