Josh Altman Talks Million Dollar Listing Season 7
Bravo viewers know big-time realtor Josh Altman as one of the stars of the show Million Dollar Listing: Los Angeles, but while Altman lives and works in L.A. now, he and his brother—together, they are The Altman Brothers—are Boston boys at heart.
“Don’t even come up to me and try to talk shit about any Boston sports,” he says. In fact, given the opportunity, he’d rather hang out with Pats QB Tom Brady than with supermodel Gisele Bundchen. Altman was also a kicker on the football team at Newton South.
But these days, it’s all about that (multi)Million Dollar Listing. We caught up with Altman last week to talk about his Boston roots, season 7 of MDL, and more:
Even though you are based in L.A., what are some cardinal rules of real estate that buyers and sellers everywhere should know?
As far as the cardinal rules of buying, I’ve always been big on “Don’t be afraid to put out offers.” Worse comes to worse, they get turned down, but don’t be afraid to lowball an offer. And try to look at a deal without your emotions. A lot of people walk into a house, they fall in love with the house, they buy it, but they forget about things. Whereas if they look at it more as a business deal, they might be able to make a better move on it.
As far as selling houses, I would say:
1. Don’t take anything personal as far as the offers go; make sure to respond to all offers, and
2. Make sure to depersonalize your property as much as possible, because it’s all about letting people see themselves in your house—not seeing a thousand pictures of the current owner. Keep it as neutral as possible.
Since you grew up in the Boston area, were there any homes you came across as a kid that you saw and thought, “Man, I want to live there!”
Yeah, I grew up in Newton, Mass., and I love East Coast traditional homes. They’re still my favorite houses. And there aren’t as many here in L.A., so when I see a good East Coast traditional, I just love it. There are some in Brentwood, but in Beverly Hills, Hollywood Hills, you don’t see them that often. So the East Coast-traditional style, Hampton-style, those are my favorite types of homes.
There are some incredible brick homes with tons of history in Boston, and we don’t have those homes out here. An old home in L.A. is 1940 or 1950, and it needs to be knocked down because it’s unlivable. I remember going to some of my parents’ friends’ house and the homes were 100 years old. My aunt and uncle live in Brookline in a house that was one of the first houses in Brookline. Now it’s so special that there are these houses that were made better than how houses are made now.
As you said, a lot of the homes around here are older. How do you know if a house is well-built enough to hold up in a New England snowstorm?
Oh, I miss those—no, I don’t.
No, you don’t.
What I always tell people anywhere is to make sure you have the correct team of experts whenever you’re buying a property. It’s so important, and it’s something that I went through when I first started flipping houses that I wasn’t aware of. It cost me a lot of money over the years until I assembled a very good team of experts to make sure that all the inspections are done correctly and I knew exactly what I was getting. A lot of people look at a house and fall in love with the beauty of it, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t a mess inside the walls. The only way to find it is to have the right team come in.
I don’t know how it is in Boston, but in L.A., the chimneys are always a nightmare. There’s always work that needs to be done with chimneys to bring them back to code. They’re the number one thing people ask for a price reduction about because when you get a chimney inspector in there, it could cost you up to $10-, $15-, $20,000 to get it back to where it should be. So if you’re not connected with a good inspection team, talk to your realtor and have them hook you up.
You mentioned your aunt and uncle have a house in Brookline. Do you come back to the area often?
I try. My grandmother unfortunately passed away last year, and I used to come back to see her mostly. My aunt and uncle live in Brookline, but my parents don’t live in Newton anymore, so I don’t make it back as much as I used to, but I love it. I have the greatest memories of growing up in Boston. It’s the greatest city, and I always joke around that I want to bring my family to Boston because I had such a good time there.
At the same time, I’m not gonna lie—it’s difficult to leave a place where the weather is perfect every day. The real estate is incredible, and the level of real estate out here is a whole different world and a whole different style. I love Boston and while a lot gets edited out, I always give a shout-out to Boston on the show. Anytime I can mention that we are Boston boys, I try to do that.
Do you have any local haunts you must go to while in town?
The first thing I do when I get off the plane is I gotta go to Legal Seafood. I have to get good seafood because the seafood out here is not even close to the seafood out there.
Do you ever go back to your old high school or anything like that?
I do! I always drive by. I don’t know why since it’s not like I’ll see anything other than a parking lot, but a lot of times I drive by the football field because I was a kicker at Newton South before I went on to play at Syracuse. I also call my old buddies up, and it’s like no time has passed. And now, more than ever, I like driving around and just looking at real estate.
I know you played for Syracuse, but growing up in Boston, and now living in L.A., what are your sports allegiances these days?
Patriots fan ’til I die. I don’t care where I live. They are my favorite, I’m so obsessed with them. Patriots, Red Sox, Celtics, Bruins…don’t even come up to me and try to talk shit about any Boston sports because you will definitely get an argument. I literally get the sports package from the NFL so that I can see every Patriots game. It’s the only time I make sure I’m not working, and I even converted my fiancé, who now has a shirt that she has to where during the games for good luck.
You might have heard then that Tom Brady and Gisele Bundchen had that property in Brentwood that they worked on for so long and then recently sold to Dr. Dre for about $40 million.
Yeah, I’m so annoyed I didn’t get the listing. I just wanted to hang out with Tom Brady.
Oh, because you don’t want to hang out with Gisele at all, right?
Honestly, I’m such a diehard Patriots fan, I know it’s weird, but I’d so rather hang out with Tom Brady. I think both of them got a great deal. I know that it took a long time to build it, but it’s in the best area in the best gated community. And that house is going to be tough to beat—they have great taste. Another Boston boy is building a massive property that’s almost finished—Mark Wahlberg’s house in Beverly Park, which is another incredible property that he’s building for himself.
Speaking of the Brady Bunch, they’re also building a property in Brookline. What do you think about that?
I don’t know anything about it, but that’s super cool!
OK, tell me about the new season of Million Dollar Listing. Madison [Hildebrand] just left, right?
Yeah, Madison left. He was replaced by two guys [James Harris and David Parnes], so there’s now four of us. This season is an interesting one. It’s—in my opinion—the best by far, just because of where the market is and how hot it is. The deals and the real estate are incredible, the stories are incredible. But also this season, more than ever you get to see vulnerable Josh, which you don’t always get to see. All you see is this hardcore closer. I definitely open up a lot more this season. You get to see parts of my personal life, so I’m a little excited and a little scared.
How are you getting along with the new guys? Actually, first, I have to ask about getting slapped by costar Josh Flagg last season.
If you’re going to get slapped by anybody, get slapped by Flagg.
Why, did it not hurt?
Didn’t hurt. It was like a mosquito bite. [Laughs]
I love to hate him, but he’s great. I respect him in real estate. We have a lot of fun messing with each other. It’s kind of gotten to a point where it’s like pranking a friend. We’ve been through a lot these past years, and that was a tough moment on screen. But for me, I don’t really hold any grudges, and it was all about business, and we’ve moved on from that. On the new season, you get to see our relationship this year and what it turned into.
And the other guys, not gonna lie—they’re two British guys, they’re partners, and they come out swinging. I don’t know if it’s because they’re trying to make a name for themselves or they want to take down the top dog on the show, but there’s more than enough drama for everybody to watch this season. And I know half the fans just tune in for that.
Hey, it’s Bravo, right?
It’s Bravo, you gotta love it. Who knew there was so much drama in real estate?
Finally, you are portrayed a certain way on TV. What do you want people to know about the real you?
You know, I get that question a lot. I come off as a hard-ass, a deal-closer, super-aggressive. But people who do deals with me love me. They can make you look however they want you to look, especially when they’re taping a show and following you around with cameras for 10 months. You know, it’s me on camera, so it is what it is, but everybody in real life who knows me knows that I’m a lot nicer in real life.
It’s very intense, what I’m doing. It’s very difficult to stay at the top of the game in real estate in L.A. The Altman Brothers—my brother and I—sell a quarter billion dollars in real estate, which is more than most companies sell. It’s super-intense, and on top of real estate, we’re having cameras follow us around. And on top of that, I’m traveling the country mentoring and lecturing other real estate realtors on how to be successful. And on top of that, I have other businesses, and I invest a lot in real estate. I have a lot on my plate, I’m very, very busy.
So the intensity comes off because I love what I do. And I don’t know what else to say, but I’m a lot nicer in person. And you’ll see more of the real person inside this season.
Million Dollar Listing season 7 premieres Wednesday, August 20, at 9 p.m. on Bravo. Learn more about the show at bravotv.com.