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The Daily Dish Bosses of Bravo

Go Inside Heather Altman’s “Incredible” Real Estate Journey from Assistant to CEO

The MDLLA agent exclusively opens up about her career path, including the “frustrating” misconceptions and “proud” moments. 

By Abby Feiner
Heather Altman Shows How to Put Together the Perfect Outfit for Work

Million Dollar Listing Los Angeles viewers were introduced to Heather Altman (née Bilyeu) as Madison Hildebrand’s assistant and have since watched her navigate her personal and professional relationship with her now-husband, Josh Altman. But make no mistake: As a CEO who oversees 30 agents and personally does nearly $200 million in annual transactions, Heather is — and always has been — a powerhouse real estate agent in her own right. 

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As Heather explained to BravoTV.com in March, she has struggled with the idea that she’s “always been known as Josh’s wife or Madison’s assistant” while her career accomplishments are impressive enough to tell a story of their own. “It was frustrating because I’ve worked my entire life to get to where I am, and I definitely contribute to the company and our successes,” shared Heather, who was recently named CEO of The Altman Brothers. “[Josh and I have] been together for almost 13 years. Through that, it’s been hard to figure out my identity as a woman and a professional, and where I [stood] within the way our working relationship was.”

Heather Altman and Josh Altman of Million Dollar Listing Los Angeles.

“Finally,” Heather explained, “I realized I didn’t need to get hung up on having to prove to everyone else that I am a self-sufficient, independent person. As long as I’m happy and successful with what I do every single day, I don’t need to worry about the imaging and branding behind all of it.”

“I know what I’m accomplishing every day, and at the end of the day, if something were to happen between me and The Altman Brothers, I’d be able to continue my business with or without them,” she declared. “As long as I have that confidence personally, I didn’t need to worry about how it looked on paper to everyone else.” 

Here, Heather opens up about the pivotal moments that have shaped her successful career journey. 

Heather Altman at Extra.

How Her Career Started

When Heather was growing up in Las Vegas, she thought her professional path was perfectly planned. “My parents had a company. I was planning to take over my mom’s position and kind of take on the family business,” she said, referencing her parents’ Visa/Mastercard processing center. “Then my parents pulled a fast one on me and decided to move to Florida and retire and close the company. I was like, ‘Oh no, what am I going to do?’”

Heather quickly realized that she could turn a longtime interest into a job. “In my free time on the weekends or after school, my mom and I would go to all the new housing tracts and look at all the new developments in Las Vegas. I really enjoyed it, so that’s what pushed me into getting my real estate license,” she explained. 

At 18 years old, Heather began her career in Las Vegas real estate. “I [was] doing new home sales, and then I went off on my own doing resale and new homes, and I had an incredible, amazing year,” she said. “This is when things were selling over asking and the market was on fire like it was just recently.”

“Then all of a sudden,” she recounted, “the economy crashed, and the real estate market crashed.”

A Major Move

Heather Altman of Million Dollar Listing Los Angeles.

With a significant shift in the market, Heather packed up her bags and headed to Los Angeles after nearly five years of working in Las Vegas. “I figured if I’m gonna get stuck in this crazy economy, I might as well do it in California where the beach is free and the prices of homes are a lot more expensive, so when the market gets back up, I can start making money again,” she explained. 

Heather soon began working for Madison and was his assistant for more than two years before they “decided to partner” in a new way, with Heather focusing on sales in and around West Hollywood. However, Heather said with a laugh, “You guys all saw how that fell apart.”

After Madison fired her over a disagreement regarding her decision to co-list a home with Josh, whom she had recently started dating at the time, Heather noted, “I was on my own selling.”

Finding a New Employer

Heather and Josh had successfully co-listed properties together during that time, but when Josh and Matt Altman teamed up in an official capacity to form The Altman Brothers on Season 6 of MDLLA, Josh took a firm stance that Heather shouldn’t come on board. That choice, she said on Episode 6 of that season, was “bullsh-t.”  

As Heather explained to BravoTV.com, “Josh would lean on me a lot to give him business advice with his clients, and then it would turn into ‘Oh, hey babe, can you run comps for me? Can you write a contract for me?’”

“So eventually I was like, ‘This just organically came about that we’re working together, you know, let’s actually make it official and work together,’” she continued. “Then it was like, ‘Slam on the brakes. Absolutely not.’”

She added: “I think he was afraid to be working with his girlfriend who he was also filming a TV show with.”

Heather Altman and Josh Altman of Million Dollar Listing Los Angeles.

Heather could also “understand the hesitation” to bring her on board due to Matt’s role in the company. “I have a second person who has to agree to it and is a little unsure about it,” she said. “But I grew up with my parents always working together, so it just seemed normal and natural. But for them, it definitely wasn’t.”

“We’ve gone up and down figuring that out over the course of our relationship,” she admitted. “At one point, I was an agent with Matt and Josh and kind of helping hire people, then it was like, ‘No, you need to be on your own.’”

After Josh explained to Heather that she would not be coming on board, she quickly “went to The Agency and worked with Mauricio [Umansky] for a little bit.” The move rattled Josh, to say the least. 

“He’s one of our top competitors,” Josh said in an interview on Season 6 Episode 7. “If I told you that it didn’t bother me a little bit, I’d be lying.”

Looking back now, Heather admits she made an intentional “power move” to show Josh her value. “‘I’ll go with your competition then, if you’re not gonna treat me as an equal, and you’ll see what you’re missing out on,’” she revealed thinking at the time. “It did work, and they asked me to come back to work for them.”

Taking on a Leadership Role

Heather is now the CEO of The Altman Brothers, which means she, Josh, and Matt are “finally all three real partners.” 

“They finally had seen, after 12 years at that point of working together, what I actually contribute to the team and to the company, and showing them where we’ve grown, they realized they really rely on me as a partner and I’ve made their lives easier,” she said. “It came a little late, but it finally did come after I did have that one conversation that you saw on the show, with me asking them to really consider me as a partner. So that was really exciting.”

Her “Always On” Mentality 

Josh Flagg Shows His Clients a Listing from "The Better of the Altmans"

While she may have a new title, Heather notes that her daily work routine “hasn’t changed” because she has “always been doing this role.” Although “every day is different” and Heather goes “with the flow” of what needs to get done, her primary focus at the moment is the company’s expansion to Orange County.

“My week is still seven days a week,” she said. “I’ve always been 24/7, hence the reason why Josh and I work so well together and have such a great relationship. We have the same mindset, and we love what we do so much that it doesn’t feel like working most of the time… This position of CEO of the company and also being an agent and team leader to my staff really is a perfect position for me.”

Although Heather enjoys always being “on” because she’s passionate about the work, she explained that it also just happens to be the nature of the industry. “It’s always been like this, but even more so now, if you don’t answer your phone or you don’t go and show a house immediately, the client will move on to the next person,” she said. “They need immediate results. They need immediate attention. Most people don’t understand that when they’re looking at real estate as a career. That’s really what has always separated us from any other real estate agent, is that we’re always on and 24/7. Our clients’ needs are very important. If we don’t answer the phone, another agent is going to and you miss out on the opportunity with that client.”

Finding Balance — and Boundaries

Still, there are limitations Heather has learned to enforce. “I think one challenge is sometimes being too available and [not] being able to set boundaries,” she said. “You want to deliver the best service possible, but at a certain point, some of these clients have taken advantage of our time… I’ve learned to really create those boundaries.”

“So yes, I am available 24/7, but within reason,” she continued. “I have a family now, and it’s a very different mindset for us. So [I’ve learned] to create the boundaries [to] not feel like you’re being taken advantage of. I respect my clients, and I expect them to do the same for me.”

Josh and Heather Altman Give a Tour of "Lexi's Backyard"

Although Heather tries to give 100% of herself to her career and personal life, she knows “there’s no true formula for a perfectly balanced life.”

“I don’t think that exists in any profession and any relationship,” she said. Her priorities are “constantly changing,” and she notes, “It just depends on where you’re at professionally with your career and what you have coming on with your family, and you just prioritize what really makes sense.” For Heather and Josh, their children are “always our priority” over anything else. 

“The kids, everything kind of falls around that now,” she explained. “Nothing’s ever perfect, [but] as long as my kids are happy and I’m getting quality time with them, everything else is secondary and we figure it out. Our life really revolves around Lexi and Ace and real estate, and that’s pretty much it these days.”

Family Matters

Heather’s biggest inspiration as a working mother is her own mom. “She would bring me to work. She gave me my first job. Seeing her in a role where she was looked up to and was creating a business and was able to provide for herself was so inspiring for me, and that’s led me to my path,” she said. “I wouldn’t be where I am without her and her guidance and seeing her work ethic and really instilling that in me.”

Because Heather “wasn’t the kid that was just handed the keys to the car,” and her mom made her work for “everything” she had, Heather noted that she and Josh “plan to do the same for Lexi and Ace.”

Welcome to Josh Altman's New Bright White, Marble Kitchen

Although Lexi and Ace are currently 6 and 3, respectively, Heather already has big plans for her kiddos in the workforce. “They’ll be coming and doing summer jobs with us, and also working after school with us, and if it’s not with us, they’re going to be working somewhere,” she said. “I think it’s really important to have your children understand what it takes to earn money and be able to support themselves.”

That’s a lesson Heather is proud to have learned herself along the way. “I’m lucky to say that I’ve never relied on anyone to support me, and I think that’s also why Josh’s and my relationship has always been so strong — because he respected me for the fact that I was always able to take care of myself, and I had a bigger vision for myself, whether it was with or without him,” she said. 

Paving the Way

Tracy Tutor and Heather Altman Aim for "A Redemption Story"

Now that Heather, Josh, and Matt are considered among the top real estate agents in the country, they are focusing on paving the way for future real estate professionals. “We are doing camps right now for real estate agents,” Heather said. “It’s really exciting to help mold other people’s businesses, no matter what level you’re at in your career.”

For Heather, it’s a priority not only to help people succeed but to change the way people experience success along the way. “We strive to be No. 1 in many ways, and we love to set the bar for industry standards of what clients should be receiving and the results they should be getting from their agents.”

Of course, she and The Altman Brothers still plan to break their own records along the way. “Our L.A. office in the past 24 months did $2.5 billion,” she said. “Our goal for our Orange County office, in the next two years, we’d like to be hitting also almost a billion in sales. We like to set big goals for ourselves.”

In Bosses of Bravo, Bravolebs pull back the curtain on their business journeys. From how they got started to real talk about their career ups and downs, these stars-slash-businesspeople give us an in-depth look at how they made it.


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