Gary Conkling Life Notes

Mostly whimsical reflections on life

The Property Brothers

Most people don’t make money by showing couples houses they can’t afford, persuading them to buy a dump, then walking them through the perils of renovation. Somehow, the Property Brothers do it every week.

Property BrothersJonathan and Drew Scott are the superstars of home improvement television. The Canadian twins have three successful TV shows on HGTV and, improbably, a newly renovated house in Las Vegas. They chose it because they both like hot weather and Jonathan, who dabbles in magic, likes Vegas night life.

In addition to being good at their day job, the Scotts are extremely telegenic. That may have something to do with being child actors – Drew appeared on “Smallville,” Jonathan in an episode of “X-Files.”

Acting didn’t get their juices flowing as much as business. Their first business venture, which strangely was also mine, involved hangers. They made craft hangers and sold them door to door until they hooked up with a Japanese chain store. I took the hangers my mom used for my ironed shirts and sold them back to her. It took some marketing to get the money, but production and delivery was pretty easy.

The Scotts, who grew up in Vancouver, B.C., attended the University of Calgary and acquired an interest in real estate. They bought their first fixer-upper with only a $250 down payment and sold it for a $50,000 profit.  That beat the typical college job, so they kept on making small down payments and flipping renovated houses for what they referred to as “absurd profits.”

They were hooked. Jonathan took a degree in construction and design, while Drew became a licensed real estate agent.

Making loads of money proved less satisfying than they thought, so they cast an eye toward taking their act to television. The Property Brothers were born. Now the 36-year-olds are on People magazine’s sexiest men alive list.

Timing is everything and the Property Brothers were ready to order when the housing boom crashed. With lowered expectations and emptier wallets, renovation suddenly was “in.”

Even so, each episode of the Property Brothers starts with the Scotts showing an eager couple a house with the features they want, but with a price tag out of their league. They grudgingly go on a journey of trooping through moldy, abandoned, neglected, weird or just ugly houses to find the bones they can be resurrected into a dream home. In one episode, the Scotts show a house overrun inside and out with plastic gnomes. It was amazing they actually convinced the couple to step onto the property.

aa05a0f22ec1243a33a93ca871faf0d3People like Carole and me watch the show to see how a hovel can be transformed into a home, with the latest bells and whistles of design in kitchens and bathrooms. The Scotts are charming, funny, knowledgeable and endearing as they interact with skeptical, often demanding and sometimes clueless clients, like the guy who got a deal on a commercial-grade stove hood that Jonathan said would have required rewiring the house to accommodate.

Steve Kurutz of The New York Times interviewed the Scotts at their new Las Vegas home, a 1960s vintage house that took three years to renovate and betrays their eclectic style and peripatetic lifestyle. The house, which has gigantic ceilings, features a wall centered on a massive sword. But the house is more hub than home.

Drew says he only spends three weeks a year there, often at times that coincide when the twin’s parents visit from Alberta. He and his girlfriend share a downstairs bedroom. Jonathan hangs around more, with his two dogs, but not all that much as the Scotts manage around filming their three shows, touting their outdoor furniture line and giving inspirational speeches at trade shows.

At times, you wonder how Jonathan and Drew have the time, energy and patience to do what they do. They are, after all, twins who have learned how to be in two places at once. Thankfully, they have different hairstyles so we can tell them apart.

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/08/21/garden/hey-heres-an-idea-for-a-show.html?_r=0

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