Josh Altman is one of the biggest real estate agents of all time. He dominates the market in southern California and has set records with some of the biggest leases and highest value sales of all time. I was able to catch him in sunny Scottsdale, Arizona to ask some questions and get to know the great man a little better.
He’s a family man, loves real estate and is a diehard Patriots fan. Professionally, Josh is passionate about teaching and educating people on how to become successful in real estate, so I’ve taken his perspective on some of the most important lessons he has learned along the way to share with you.
My life has been a rollercoaster, there’s no question about it. I became a millionaire when I was 26 and was broke again by the time I was 27. I’ve made some pretty big mistakes, but these have allowed me to become the person that I am today. I can look back and recognize those mistakes and really look at them as learning experiences. The most successful people I know have all made major mistakes in their lives. No question, they can all tell you that one mistake they made and how it changed their life and what they learned from it. You have to be able to see it – sometimes you can’t see it right away. When I lost all my money when the economy collapsed, trust me, I didn’t see it. I was very angry and depressed, but years later I can see it.
You’ve got to have mentors in your life; people you can bounce your ideas off, people that have done it before you. I always say this: in real estate, you’re not reinventing the wheel, it’s more about understanding it and educating yourself and figuring out how you can be successful. If you surround yourself with good people that can back you on deals or educate you on deals or can even bring you in on their deals – that is one of the most important things for me.
I’ve always been obsessed with success and surrounding myself with successful people. This has been my mindset since day one. I’m all about the self-help books out there. From a very young age, I was stopping off in the bookstore and reading ‘How to become successful’ or ‘How to become a CEO’ or ‘Positive traits of successful people’. Those were the books that I read. Success books.
You have to do what you love. You have to enjoy it. I first got into real estate after I found myself spending all my free time looking at houses. It’s something that interested me. I absolutely love what I do and I don’t work a day in my life because of that. I get up every morning and I’m super pumped. I haven’t used an alarm clock in a long time, but 5.30 am comes and I’m up and ready to start the day. People email me from around the world and say ‘I want to do real estate. I want to be rich’, but that’s not the way to approach this. The question should be what do you like about real estate? What interests you? How are you going to get financing to do what you want to do? Are you educated on this?
This is a marathon; it’s long term. This is what I’ve learned in real estate – if you make somebody money, you will be on their speed dial for the rest of your life. There’s no rush. I’m currently working on a $20 million deal and have advised my customer that it’s better to hold, be patient, maybe take a little hit now because your house will go up in value if you can wait out the market. We pride ourselves on treating our customers’ money like it’s our own and that’s the thought process that goes behind our deals. I have a very difficult time selling someone a house that I don’t believe is a good deal. That mentality is what has kept my clients coming back, and telling all their friends to use me. They know I’m going to fight for every dollar.
Sometimes you have to take a long-term view of things. Whenever I buy anything, I always look at it as a long term play. If I can make money quickly, great. I do typically take the fast money and pull out, but I never think about that when I go into it. I always look at the worst-case scenario. How am I going to hold this for the next 10 years? What do I have to do? If I have to rent it out and don’t sell it, am I going to be on top?
The hardest thing that I see with a lot of the investors that I work with is that they get emotionally attached to every deal that they’re involved in. You can’t do that. This isn’t your home, it’s an investment. You have to look at it as an investment. It’s all about the money.
Investing in real estate allows me to make my own schedule and spend time with my family - I’ve got a beautiful two-year-old daughter, a 20 day old son and I love my wife more than anything – so to be able to do all of this to provide for my family, at the end of the day that’s what is most important to me.