As high school students, Jonathan and Drew Scott bought a $200,000 home with just a $250 down payment—and flipped it for a cool $250,000 after renovating it. Today, they run a million dollar business.
That first house was purchased 16 years ago and it set the twins — womb mates by chance, best friends and business partners by choice — on a path to become television's most-watched handy hunks.
The duo dishes home buying and selling advice on HGTV's hit show "Property Brothers" and a spin-off series, "Buying and Selling."
"We grew up in a house that really incubated creativity. Our parents encouraged us to follow our passions no matter what it was," says Jonathan, who, along with Drew, dabbled in a crafts business starting at age 7.
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The young brothers, who are as competitive as they are good-looking, were initially intrigued with entertaining, acting and magic. But a TV infomercial sparked an interest in real estate. "We didn't want to be starving artists," says Jonathan.
They opted to pursue formal education and licensing in real estate and construction so they could convert the hobby into a full-time gig.
"Between 2004 and 2007, our company had the majority of its success. We were doing massive commercial office projects and condo buildings," says Jonathan.
Then came the casting call. Today "Property Brothers" attracts more than two million viewers every week—and their social media reach is double. (Connect with them on Twitter: www.twitter.com/MrSilverScott and www.twitter.com/MrDrewScott.)
With their team of about 30 people, the brothers buy and renovate upwards of 50 homes a year, all of which take advantage of the latest technology and materials.
"A lot of my inspiration comes from commercial properties. Seeing what they're using in resorts, and bringing that to a residential application, " says Jonathan. "When I walk into a space, I see walls moving and floors changing. We use 3D technology that shows them what we can do with a space before we bang any nails. Short of actually tearing a wall down putting up a new feature wall and saying, 'Look this is what it could look like,' now we can do that on a digital basis."
While the Scotts are on a mission to educate their audience on how to buy and sell effectively on their own, they trace their own success to their roots.
"You can't trust anybody more than your own blood and we have a chemistry that you only get when someone has sat on your head for nine months in the womb," laughs Jonathan. "Sometimes you butt heads, but at the end of the day, we're not holding any grudges."
The "Property Brothers" condensed guide to buying and selling a home:
- Educate yourself. Know the basics: the area, comparable selling prices and the cost of special features.
- Prep money matters. Before heading to an open house, get your finances in order. Write down your income, assets, debt and any other pertinent information. Figure out what you can realistically afford.
- Get pre-approved. Pre-approve for your financing by speaking to your lender or mortgage broker to figure out the best product for you. Bi-weekly payments, lump sum or regular increases to your payments can help you pay off that mortgage sooner and save you a lot in interest.
- Dream big. Write down absolutely everything you could want in a home, from location to size; features to amenities close by. Mark the must haves and what you can realistically live without.
- Don't settle. Many buyer's ignore that a house is next to a train just because they like a feature in the home. Don't overlook anything that could affect resale value. Even if you plan to be in a home for many years, always look at the place from the eyes of the average buyer.
- Select a Realtor who knows your neighborhood. Yes, it means you'll pay a commission, but a skilled professional should be able to get you the most exposure and the very best price.
- Don't skimp on the staging. Declutter, depersonalize, fix minor repairs and add light. Even on a tight budget, inexpensive touches pay off.
- Disclose. Sellers who don't reveal problems set themselves up for lawsuits down the road. Be honest and forthcoming.
- Price right. Don't go to the top of the comparables in today's economy if you expect to sell quickly. Proper staging and appropriate pricing can generate buzz.
- Mask emotions. If you're desperate to sell, you'll likely lose money. If you're emotionally attached to a home, you'll overpay. Real estate is an investment, so decisions should be made in a business frame of mind.
Tory Johnson hosts My Family Business, a Yahoo! Finance original series. As a champion for small business owners, she runs Spark & Hustle, appears weekly on ABC's Good Morning America and will gladly talk to you anytime@ToryJohnson on Twitter or Facebook.com/Tory.