By Connie Adair
A hairy naked tenant on a bed. Ten cats, likely lazy because the kitchen counter is covered in mouse droppings. A damp musty basement. The stuff of dream homes? Hardly. Unless you talk to Drew Scott and his twin brother, Jonathan, who wear glasses rosy enough to see past the horrors of such extreme fixer-uppers to the transformations that will turn them into dream homes.
On their new television series, Property Brothers, Drew, a Realtor, puts his real estate smarts to work to help couples find a run-down home ripe for renovation. Jonathan, a licensed contractor, offers up ideas to transform the house into exactly what they want, all without breaking the budget.
The show combines what the brothers love: real estate and television. “Property Brothers is the perfect mix,” says Drew. He and Jonathan are no strangers to the film and television industry, acting and hosting television shows and in 2002, along with their brother JD, founding the Dividian Production Group. Dividian produces short films and has a number of projects in development.
As for their other love, real estate, despite being only 32-years-old, the Scott brothers have 15 years of real estate experience under their belts. In 1996, right after they finished high school, they moved from B.C. to Calgary, where they bought their first investment property.
They were inspired by a late-night television ad and ordered a book so they could learn how to make millions in real estate. They say most of that material wasn’t useful, but there were a few tidbits they put to use. They bought their first house, chosen for its location near the university, with only $250 down.
“Our agent said it couldn’t be done,” Drew says. “We did it. We bought a $220,000 house and lived for a year rent-free (they rented rooms to university students to cover their mortgage costs) and made $40,000 or $50,000 when we sold a year later.”
From 1996 to 2003 they invested in residential properties using local Realtors, he says. “After continually being told by Realtors that it’s impossible to do certain investments, and then proving them wrong, we decided to license and do it ourselves.”
Drew was licensed in early 2004, and Jonathan soon after. They formed Scott Real Estate in 2004. Jonathan is broker at the boutique brokerage, which has its main office in Calgary. The brokerage deals in residential and commercial sales and construction projects. “I am a licensed agent with Keller Williams Elite in B.C. and Jonathan is a licensed agent in Vegas,” says Drew.”We have an investment company (Scott Real Estate Inc.) in Vancouver, Calgary and Vegas. However the show focuses on me as the Realtor and Jonathan as the contractor.”
Working with local agents and researchers, Drew and Jonathan tour fixer uppers together. Having Jonathan, who is also a master builder of luxury homes, offer on-the-spot ideas and opinions of what renovations are realistic is invaluable, Drew says.
On the show, a couple is first shown their dream home, then abruptly brought down to reality when they find out that the home is out of their price range. As agents everywhere can relate, buyers often have unreal expectations.
The brothers then guide the couple to fixer-uppers with potential. Jonathan comes up with design plans for two homes, working within the couple’s budget (some budgets are $50,000, others are $200,000). Using computer graphics, he shows buyers what the homes will look like after the renovation.
With smaller budgets, homeowners pitch in and help where they can in order to save money. In the first episode, the homeowners helped demolish a wall and install kitchen flooring. Episode one came in only $2,000 over budget. “I’ve been a contractor for years. What I quote, I try to stay within,” Jonathan says.
Once the couple chooses a home and buys it, renovation work begins. “There’s a lot of pressure. The buyers use their own money to buy and renovate the home,” says Jonathan.
This season’s 13 episodes are being filmed in and around Toronto. In later seasons, plans are to film on the West Coast, as well as in the U.S.
However, location doesn’t matter, the brothers say. The show teaches people how to turn a fixer-upper into the home they want, and shows what can be achieved when working with a professional Realtor and licensed trades.
“The show offers education, comedy and drama – all the essentials of a hit show,” Drew says.
Property Brothers is one more way to help people with real estate, and reaching viewers around the world, it is one powerful marketing program.
“We have had great response to hosting gigs, seminars and trade shows even before this series, but now that we’ll be reaching international markets, we expect a strong increase in our company’s activity. However since our company isn’t in many of the cities we are seen in, we strongly advise viewers and potential clients to work with Realtors from those market areas,” says Drew.
Filming keeps the brothers busy four to five days a week, some being 12-hour days. The worst experience? “There have been so many, Drew says. “The naked guy was definitely funny. Another house was marketed as renovated, but when we went through, it looked like it hadn’t been touched since the ’60s. There was wallpaper everywhere – walls, ceilings, on doors. They even wallpapered around the bathtub where you should have tiles or a waterproof membrane. This lead to massive water damage in the kitchen below. As nasty as that home looked, it would make for a beautiful transformation.”
The brothers live in Vegas and work on the series in Toronto, relying on a solid support network of Realtors and trade professionals to ensure their clients in Vancouver and Calgary are covered, Drew says.
And if real estate, television and film isn’t enough to fill their days, Jonathan is an award-winning illusionist and Drew is a second-degree black belt in karate.
Jonathan has produced a behind-the-scenes look at the show at (www.wnetwork.com/propertybrothers). “It has a lot of information and interesting happenings,” he says. However, it doesn’t include the naked tenant.
Property Brothers is on the W Network Tuesdays at 10 pm.