$90 Million in 12 Months. Meet The Altman Brothers Newest Partner.
My name is Jacob Greene. I am 26 years old and I was born and raised in Los Angeles. I am a Real Estate Agent and Partner at The Altman Brothers Group at Douglas Elliman and our team is one of the top residential teams in the United States. We are selling about $500 million per year and we’re just a really great team.
The group has grown exponentially since inception. It started about 10 years ago with just Josh and Matt. I started working with them 9 years ago as their first additional agent. Fast forward to today, we’ve opened up our own offices and now have about 25 people on our team.
Ever since I was very young I loved people and I loved making deals. My dad loves to tell this story when I was 6 years old and we went to Mexico for vacation. I’d be haggling with vendors on the beach, negotiating the prices for little trinkets. Everyone always knew that I was going to be a deal maker, and from a young age I was very interested in real estate.
Funny enough, in my Bar Mitzvah video as a 13 year old my Rabbi mentions me saying, “I’m going to be a successful real estate broker”.
As the years went on, and after watching a lot of Entourage, I decided I either wanted to be like Ari Gold or just a top agent in real estate. What I loved about Ari Gold was the pace he moved at. He moved quickly and controlled the room. I wanted to be like that.
I love dealing with people. One of the biggest elements of residential real estate is having good people skills. I truly love dealing with and working through complex problems until they are solved. The art of a deal and the actual deal making process is really rewarding for me. There’s no better feeling. Gaining momentum, making deals, making things happen and getting through hard times are all part of it.
I love finding creative solutions to problems. I think that’s also a big part of what makes me successful - I’ve learned to look at situations in untraditional ways and I have been fortunate in that it tends to work out for me.
I also love the people I get to meet by working at this level. It’s really just a great opportunity to be around and learn from the minds of top executives and some of the biggest actors or artists of our time. One on one time with these incredible people makes this all the more special for me.
I always believed in getting a really early start in life. I hated falling behind.
So, like I said, I knew early the two things I was choosing between. Either I would be the best talent manager or the best real estate hustler in the game. I remember when I was 16 years old in high school competing in a business competition and winning. One of the judges from that business competition was involved in real estate and he got me my first gig as an intern at a solidly average group in Brentwood. That showed me exactly what I didn’t want to do. I didn’t want to be average. I wanted to be working with the best of the best.
So, from there I decided to try entertainment management. At 17, just before freshman year of college, I got an internship at a group called War Management in Beverly Hills, which was really interesting. This experience showed me what I liked and what I didn’t. I liked the hustle, deal making, people and Hollywood lifestyle aspects. They repped a lot of people, but I realized that to get to the top of that game, and with the whole mailroom thing, it would take way too long for me to progress in my career. Even then, there was a ceiling for my potential income and that just didn’t do it for me.
So, mid freshmen year, I’m 17 years old now and I’m heading back home from UCSB to Los Angeles for break. I also remember being on a juice cleanse, and feeling really good, really clear and really ambitious. I’m driving in my mom’s station wagon (I didn’t have my own car at the time) and I notice this car that looks so familiar. I remember thinking to myself, “Oh, my God, That’s Josh Altman from Million Dollar Listing”.
For me, Josh was on the same level as Ari Gold. He was on the TV show Million Dollar Listing.. The show was an example of what the best real estate agents in the business we’re doing and I had been watching it for a couple of years. Josh was particularly focused on the markets in Beverly Hills, Bel Air, and Hollywood Hills - all the areas that I loved. I had not grown up in those areas directly, but I was always really intrigued by them as the goal.
So I remember thinking to myself, “you know what, I’m just going to follow his car.” So I’m following him and finally catch up to him on a turn. At this point, I’m sure this is Josh. He’s going down sunset and I’m booking it after him. After not too long, he clearly notices me in his rear view mirror and I guess he was probably thinking to himself, “Damn who’s this kid following me in a station wagon?”
So we’re both booking it through the flats of Beverly Hills, block by block, just gunning it. Finally, he stops at a stop sign and I pull up beside him. This was my moment. I pulled down my window, and yelled, “Josh, you don’t know me, but my name is Jacob Greene and I want to work for you. Just give me one meeting. That’s all I ask of you.” His reaction was like, “Huh? Sorry man, just email me”.
And that was it, I nailed it.
So I go home and I craft the best email ever - Who I was, what I wanted, why him etc. I sent it and I honestly thought I knocked it out of the park. One day goes by. Two days go by. Three days go by. A week goes by. Nothing.
So I call his office and am told I’ll get a call back. I call again and I get a hold of him, but he tells me he’ll call me back. I keep trying and trying until finally he calls me and says, “Dude, you’ve been calling me nonstop. I will give you one meeting just like you asked. And that’s it.” I said, “Sound’s good, I’ll see you tomorrow at 3 o’clock.”
I couldn’t sleep the night before. At this point I’m so pumped for this interview.
The next day he calls me around lunch and says, “I can’t meet you at 3, but I can meet you in 10 minutes.” So I pickup my briefcase with my resume in it, I jump in the car and I’m running to make it in 10 minutes.
I got there and it was $10 to park, which at that point was a lot of money for me. I remember thinking to myself, “Ugh, I really don’t want to pay $10, but I’m going to park there just because I don’t want to be late”. So I got to the office and let them know I’m here for Josh Altman. I end up waiting 30 minutes just for him to show up.
He finally shows up, sits down and says, “Alright, I’m here. What do you want from me? Let's hear your pitch.” I had studied him the night before. I knew where he went to school I knew where Matt went to school, and I knew what they studied.
So I told him who I was and how bad I wanted to get a hold of him. I talked about my go getter attitude and everything.
Then he said, “You know what? I was really prepared to just meet with you and kick you to the curve, but I appreciate the hustle. Go back to school, have fun, learn as much as you can, get your real estate license and you will be our first intern.”
I made it. I was in. I didn’t want to go back to school, but Josh encouraged me to do so and told me we’ll start next summer. So I remember going back to Santa Barbara and checking in with him once a month, sometimes once every three weeks.
I signed up for a really good school to get my Real Estate Licence. It’s called ADHI Real Estate Schools. I took their crash course, took the exam the next day and got my licence. It wasn’t that difficult. To this day I have probably sent over 50 referrals there. Recently I’ve been sending them someone every two or three weeks. The owner still remembers me from 9 years ago. He remembers the goals I had shared with him, and I think he’s proud that I’ve been able to accomplish them.
So, summer after freshman year I started working full-time with Josh and Matt. My role was simple, be available whenever they called. Whether it was for tape on a sign, grabbing coffees or literally anything, I would do it. I was just happy to be there and be around them.
I remember my first day I was at a broker’s open with Matt and he asked me, “Do you want to see a castle?” Of course I wanted to see a castle. So I followed him up to this castle like looking home in Beverly Hills. It was one of the most incredible things I had ever seen. It was a listing they had for $15 million and I was told to just be a fly on the wall while Matt showed it to a client. So I watched quietly and I observed. It was so cool.
From there it was just a snowball effect. I found myself doing more and more - whatever I could really. I guess you could have called me an assistant or a schlepper. But in doing that, I learned a lot and I gained their respect.
By junior and senior year I was starting to do some real deals. I was back and forth from school all the time. I would drive two and a half hours back to L.A. just to do a showing and then drive back. The clients didn’t know that, but I did what I had to do. Looking back on it, that was pretty crazy. I didn’t go on vacation once during those 4 summers. I wanted to be working and I wanted to prove myself.
I graduated college and the next day I started full-time. That was five and a half years ago now. When I started, they advanced me $20,000 for future commissions and that helped me so much. They knew I didn’t come from money and that I was paying for stuff without the help of my parents. That was a big gift, and it catapulted me out of college. Things really just started rolling from there. The work picked up, I got busier and busier, but I learned so much.
I picked up my first massive deal the first year out of college. It was an $18 million deal and it really put me on the map. It was a prime lot in Beverly Hills on an acre and a half of land with an unbelievable view just behind the Beverly Hills Hotel. That one listing started opening a lot of doors for me. I met all of the biggest agents in the business because they came through that house. It was huge.
Something Josh taught me really well was how to understand the numbers and keep my finger on the pulse. I learned comparable property analysis and cost of construction given different variables,, and that education really helped me. Now I can walk through a house, remember all of the details almost immediately, and make a relatively quick valuation assumption. Having a good grasp on the market, what’s selling and what’s not, is crucial.
Fast forward to 2019, I did $90 million in sales and they made me a partner in their business. We moved into a new office and we have about 25 people working with us. There’s been some huge progress from the beginning up until now and it’s just been a wild ride.
I think the toughest part about starting out and being young in the business was getting people to take me seriously. You’re dealing with huge amounts of money and people’s most valuable asset so being established and one's credibility is so important. What I found was that successful people really valued my integrity, hard work, and ability to get the job done. There’s nothing that can stop you if you really know what you’re talking about. If you know your facts and you do your homework, business people with real wealth and money will respect and appreciate that. If you can show them you know what you’re talking about, they’ll deal with you.
It was hard at first because I didn’t know everything. I was a little uneasy, but over time I developed my knowledge and confidence. It’s been about 9 years since I started my career and I’m still learning every day. It takes several years to really become an expert and I think the best way to do that is to constantly ask questions.
You don’t need to have all of the answers. What I’ve found that people really respect is just the truth. If I don’t have the answer to someone’s question, I just say that. I quickly do the research and get back to them when I do.
There’s nothing better than a referral. Getting a referral is the biggest compliment someone can give you. When you do a good job, your client will notice and more doors will open.
This is a customer service business. You need to be available 24/7 and really treat people well. It’s not possible to be a top agent and not be 24/7. If my client needs something, and I need to find the answer to it, they know that if they call me I’ll pick up the phone. If i don’t pick up the phone, i’ll text them immediately saying, “I’m in a meeting, i’ll call you right back.” I’m always available and present for them.
As for new business, it’s just about being in the mix. Social events, networking events, talking to strangers, going to conferences - these are all things that I do. You have to get yourself out there and make real meaningful relationships with people.
They have such a strong name and they gave me an incredible platform. I could not be more loyal to and thankful for Josh and Matt. They’re my brothers. They truly brought me up from having nothing.
I touched on this before, but being around successful people and talking with them helps me with so much. I really enjoy just listening to them - hearing how they started and how they became successful.
Surround yourself with people you want to be like and get rid of people who take away from you and tax you.
One of my foundational principles that I hold most dear to me is - when I want something I clearly envision it. Even if I haven’t accomplished it yet, I capture the feeling of what it’s going to feel like when I do. When I see a goal very clearly, it helps me move towards it. It’s difficult to move towards something when you’re not sure what you’re trying to move towards.
I think about the exact amount of money or a specific goal I want to achieve. Then I think about how I’m going to make it happen. I think if you can visualize your goals really clearly it will help you move towards them. It’s the first of many steps on the staircase, you just have to start climbing. I definitely believe strongly in manifestation.
For example, when I was in college I told myself that when I graduated I wanted to live in the hills with a view and a pool and surround myself with my friends. That’s what I wanted. Low and behold, a client of mine was preparing plans for a tear down behind the Beverly Hills hotel and gave us a great rate to rent it out for over a year while he got his plans. I remember everyone thought I was crazy, like “no way you’re going to live in a house in the hills with a view and a pool. No way.”
That’s what I do. I set very clear goals for myself and I find a way to achieve them because I set them so clearly.
That’s a great question because there’s a lot of great agents out here that offer great service. I think what I’ve been able to do is make unique and authentic connections with people. That’s what has made the difference. I’m very good at understanding what people want and laying out a clear path for how we’re going to achieve it together. People want to deal with people they like - people that inspire confidence and trust.
Unfortunately, many in our field talk a big game, but don’t actually accomplish it. With me, I’m just very clear, precise, truthful and hardworking. My sales numbers are evidence of that, and I’m backed by one of the biggest groups in the country. So that overall combination of white glove service and intention is why people choose me.
I’d say I’m most proud of becoming a partner at the group. It’s really been a crazy journey and a lot of perseverance. I think it’s just been the loyalty and trust I’ve established over the years. Josh will tell you he thought he would have first hired one the richest kids in Beverly Hills, but ended up hiring a poor kid not even from Beverly Hills.
To go from there, to where I am now just shows how having a clear vision, persistence and a lot of hard work can pay off for anyone.
At a very young age I had ADD. I was all over the place. I wasn’t really a troubled child, but I have severe learning disabilities. School was very difficult for me and I didn’t know what I was good at. I had so much energy, but had not really focused in one area other than soccer. Soccer was my biggest passion growing up, and I played club basically until I was 17.
As I got older I started to realize that it’s okay not to be good at some things, but if you find your passion and play to your strengths you’ll be okay. For me, my greatest strength was my work ethic and people skills. So, even though I wasn’t good at math, I befriended the teachers, showed that I cared and it all worked out.
Everyone has weaknesses. Everyone has a subject they’re not good at. With my career, I overcame this challenge by finding a field that I’m strong in and delegating the tasks that I’m weak in to others. I’m not behind a desk crunching numbers or doing things that don’t feed me, instead I focus on the people, negotiations, architecture and everything else that feeds me and that I’m good at.
2020 is going to be a great year. I feel great. I feel strong. I feel really prepared and educated on the market. My goal this year is for our group to be the number one group for residential sales in Los Angeles.
The two most important tools hands down are email and the Multiple Listing Service (MLS). The MLS is where every house gets listed, and where the vast majority of homes sold are broken down by price, price per square foot and so on. The MLS allows users to sort key variables in a variety of different ways and is essentially a cloud database for everything home related.
Ease of use, convenience and dependability. If I’m going to use software I need to know that it’s easy to use and will always work.
I would highly recommend a Customer Relationship Management platform.
I think Zillow is an interesting topic right now. There’s a lot of controversy around it for Real Estate agents. Zillow allows agents to pay for leads. The more you pay the higher you rank. We’ve used Zillow in the past and had mixed results. I wouldn’t say we love it or hate it, but it’s on you to determine how you can best use Zillow to fit your needs. Definitely worth exploring, but more importantly - understanding.
Books: How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie has some real applicable tools that you can use on a daily basis to interact with and deal with people.
Podcasts: I like Joe Rogan. His podcasts talk about a lot of interesting topics and they’re easy to follow.
Resources: I’m definitely much more of a visual learner as opposed to a reader. I love watching interviews and documentaries on Netflix. I like to know a little bit of information about a lot of things. I particularly like watching documentaries around influential people who have made it in different industries. What I’ve noticed is this knowledge has helped me contribute to conversations with the wide range of people I talk to.
The single most beneficial course that I’ve taken was a public speaking course. I took one freshman year of college and it was hands down the best course I’ve ever taken. I would suggest a public speaking course to anyone and everyone. It helps you relate points, read a crowd, deliver a message and project to a group. It’s all about how you formulate thoughts and hand them over to others.
I’m reading the sites I mentioned above every day and multiple times a day. I’m always studying the market. What houses are selling for, what the price per square foot is, when it was built, what the terms were etc. You have to have your finger on the pulse and it’s constantly changing.
Personally, I think just taking time to reflect is so important. I love to run. It helps me clear my mind. It grounds me and helps me reflect. It’s something that’s always brought me back to level headedness and just feels so good. I used to run while at school in Santa Barbara, and in LA I really enjoy Franklin Canyon. A good run is always a nice reset for me.
This past year I’ve seen myself sacrifice my health for business growth. Balance across the board is so important and I’m working on that.
I think it is so important just to start. You’re not going to find success unless you take action. You can only figure out what you want to do or don’t want to do by trying. My issue with a lot of these self-help books is it’s all theoretical. At the end of the day, you have to just take action. By doing so you will find your path and opportunity will become apparent. Don’t be afraid to try new things until you find what you love.