TORONTO — As if simultaneously filming four TV series wasn't enough for Drew and Jonathan Scott, the "Property Brothers" stars added to their already stacked schedules with book-writing duties.
Two years of work has paid off for the twin brothers, who can now add "New York Times bestselling authors" to their resumes with the recent release of "Dream Home: The 'Property Brothers'' Ultimate Guide to Finding & Fixing Your Perfect House" (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt).
Reached en route to a book signing in Toronto, real estate expert Drew and contractor Jonathan discussed mistakes they've made over the years, how homeowners should determine whether to stay or go, and tips on converting spaces for short- and long-term rentals.
The Canadian Press: What are some of the mistakes or mishaps that you've learned from, and how have you incorporated those lessons into the book?
Drew Scott: Overspending was one of the things that we did in the very beginning. We wanted to have the most beautiful house on the block that stood out from everything else, not realizing that some of the items we were putting in we weren't getting the money back from when we sold. For example, in a first-time buyer community, you don't want to spend a ton of money — thousands of extra dollars — on stone counters because first-time buyers just want counters. They don't care what they're made of.
Jonathan Scott: We tell clients all the time you need to know your neighbourhood, you need to know what buyers would expect, and any time you do an improvement, you always need to think of resale value. Even if you think you're never going to sell, people's lives change, things change.
CP: What about people who say: "Forget dream home: How can I get a home? How can I get into the market?" That dream seems further and further out of reach for a lot of Canadians.
Jonathan Scott: "In the big city centres like Toronto and Vancouver where it's so expensive it's hard to get in to start, that's where we say to people: start early. Because the older you get, the harder it is to make compromises.
As you start to have a family, you can't necessarily have three kids and a husband and wife and be in a one-bedroom apartment. If you start when you're younger, and it's just you and you get into a smaller condo, it allows you to get into the market. And then, you grow your equity a lot faster once you're in it. That allows you to change over to something a little bit bigger and — from time and time — sell and upgrade.
CP: One of the things you discuss in the book is for people in existing homes, the question: "Should I stay or should I go?" What are some things to consider?
Jonathan Scott: Maybe you absolutely love an area and you'd like to stay, but the house you're in, the floor plan doesn't work. Or you've started a family and you don't have enough space. It's usually not as cost-effective to try and do an addition or add a second storey to a home. Usually, it's more cost-effective to find a place that will work for you.
On the flip side, sometimes people don't think about the moving costs, everything that's involved, from lawyers to transfer taxes. By the time you look at what it would cost to move into a new place, you could have paid for the renovation on your existing place.
Drew Scott: There's so many clients that say to Jonathan and me: "This house doesn't work for me, I have to move." And after we sit down and talk to them for a few minutes and we walk through the space, they realize that it's just how they're using the space that doesn't work. But typically when a client has to move ... it's been that the location is not right for them for what they need in their life. For example, a certain school district, or (needing) somewhere close to work, or the family has outgrown the home.
CP: Airbnb has become a popular resource for people to rent out their basements or whole houses. Should homeowners make these spaces for short-term rentals really fancy or keep them basic?
Drew Scott: Whether it's a short-term tenant or a full-rental income property, there's going to be more wear and tear than if you lived it in yourself because tenants will never have the same respect for a space if they don't own it.
You want it to look nice, you want it to feel fresh. You need to have good storage solutions, but you definitely don't want to go too high-end unless you're in a high-end community. You don't want to go too high-end on your materials because you're probably going to have to replace them.
People love a hardwood look. But if you have tenants or if you have kids, pets, whatever, they're going to wear and tear on those floors. You could do something like a plank-style porcelain, or even a vinyl flooring.
The colours and the patterns, you still want them to pop, because you want it to be a well-designed place where someone feels at home.