“Property Brothers” stars Jonathan and Drew Scott may make real estate look fun as they renovate houses on HGTV, but they also know that buying a house can be a daunting endeavor, especially today. Though many might worry that the current high interest rates and unpredictable market swings make this a terrible time to buy, the Scott brothers stand firm that it’s never a bad time—if you find the right house.
“You can make a good purchase in real estate whether it’s an up market, sideways market, rates up or down,” Jonathan says. “The big thing is you need all your information.”
To help shed light on exactly what info homebuyers need, the property brothers chatted with Realtor.com® as part of their partnership with Chase Bank to reveal some top real estate trends they’re seeing as well as their best advice for today’s homebuyers and sellers. They also shared some somewhat mortifying details about their own first foray into homebuying decades ago, as well as what they hope to do (and whom they hope to meet) down the road.
Can you tell us about your first time buying a home?
Jonathan Scott: We found a house that needed a ton of work. We didn’t have a bunch of cash lying around, so we saved a little bit of money. But really, the seller had to sell. He ended up doing a vendor take-back mortgage (aka owner financing) for a lot of his equity, which helped. It was a big eye-opener for us that there isn’t just one way to buy a house.
Drew Scott: We were students, and we were looking for a place specifically that we could get some roommates in to help offset our mortgage cost. We calculated how much we had to make, how many roommates we had to have, if we had to do any improvements, how we could keep the cost down. There was a basement room and another room, so we ended up making those bedrooms. We had six bedrooms and four of them rented out. We got into it as a way to figure out how we could keep banking a bit of money every month to get into a second property as investors.
Six students under one roof must’ve been interesting! Any stories to share?
Drew: Jonathan makes fun of me because I was like my mom. I would run around cleaning behind everybody, and I would make sure everybody put their dishes away, washed their pans, put the toilet seat down. I was like our own built-in maid service at the house.
Jonathan: Drew was easy to live with. Some of the other folks, not so easy to live with!
How should first-time homebuyers handle today’s housing market, with all its fluctuations?
Jonathan: Do the math. If you’re getting a good price on the house, it doesn’t matter what the market looks like. Right now is really a time where people should be extra cautious so that they are definitely making a good decision, not overpaying. And make sure that they’ve got a little flexibility so they have that buffer if they need some money for improvements.
What’s your best advice for homebuyers?
Drew: Take the emotion out of it. I have [clients] getting fixated on a kitchen because they’ve always wanted a dream kitchen, but they’re ignoring all the other aspects. They want a quiet yard, somewhere the kids can play, but it’s backed onto a train track, so you’re never going to get that when you have trains barreling through multiple times a day.
You need to be completely unbiased. Even if you get all worked up about a dream bathroom or a dream kitchen or some cool feature, don’t ignore all the other things you said were mandatory.
What’s the most common mistake you see first-time homebuyers make?
Jonathan: I see them underestimating what they’re going to need as their family grows. You’re better off to find a home that has the footprint you can grow into by finishing those spaces. Be realistic so you don’t have to move within five years, because every time you move, all the fees you’re paying to real estate commission, lawyers, transfer taxes—all of that stuff comes right out of your pocket and comes out of your equity.
What’s your top advice for sellers?
Jonathan: It’s simple economics. When you’re trying to sell your house, the bigger the pool of people who might be interested in your product, the better a price you’re going to get.
Sometimes people will put in a really specific feature—a pool for example. Not a lot of people see a pool as a valuable asset. It’s either a maintenance or safety hazard. Maybe it’s the paint palette. If everything is greige and boring, it’s not what people are looking for right now, so you’re better off figuring out what the trends are. Paint is super easy to brighten things up. Decluttering and cleaning [are] so important. Make sure you’re appealing to the masses.
Drew: So many people [are] not realistic with pricing. Buyers want the cheapest price possible for a house. Sellers want to get the most possible. Working with professionals and real estate agents that understand how to value a home when listing is super important.
I also find a lot of people still just look at the tax value and say, “Oh, the tax value on this house is $700,000, so I’m going to offer $700,000.” But one thing for people to remember is, a tax value is a generic value based on the neighborhood, and it doesn’t always include all of the improvements that certain houses have had. That’s why working with professionals can help because they’re the ones who can say, “This improvement was done, so this will add more value. This house might be more like $780,000 instead of $700,000.”
Which features in your own homes are your favorites?
Jonathan: We enclosed the back patio to build this incredible solarium with a 26-foot glass roof on it. We have olive trees inside and a green wall. I remember as we were going through the process, several people were, like, “Is it worth it?” I was, like, “Yes, it will be worth it,” and now it’s our favorite thing.
Drew: I have to have a pingpong table at home. There has to be a spot for pingpong!
You’ve created so many different reality shows together. Got a favorite?
Jonathan: “Brother vs. Brother” because Drew and I do a lot of pranking and we’ve been doing that our whole lives, so it’s always funny to see how we’re trying to one-up the other brother by coming up with a better prank.
Drew: I really love “Celebrity IOU” because you learn a different side of the celebrities during the renovation, have some good laughs, and see how much emotion and love they pour into these projects. It’s pretty cool.
What celebrity is still on your “Celebrity IOU” wish list?
Drew: I’d love to have Zac Efron on. Jonathan and I are big on sustainability and climate action and [Efron] does a lot to educate people on some of the wonders of the world. It’s stuff that’s really important for the health and longevity of life, so I think it’d be cool to pick his brain.
Jonathan: Jordan Peele. Jordan is just an incredibly creative guy, really funny, and I think he would be a blast to work with.
What was your reaction to Amy Schumer’s affection for you in her recent ‘Saturday Night Live’ sketch that parodied ‘The Watcher’?
Drew: It was hilarious! I just started watching “The Watcher,” so going back and seeing that skit again after was even funnier.
Jonathan: All of a sudden people started texting me, “Is it the property, or is it the brothers?” and I was like, “What is going on with everybody? Why do they keep saying that?” And it turned out it was the “SNL” sketch. We’ve been fortunate enough that we’ve been parodied on “SNL” probably a dozen times, and so one of these days maybe we’ll get ourselves on there.