The Property Brothers, highly successful HGTV home renovation show hosts, returned to New York to talk about homeownership and opportunities for first-time buyers.
From 2015 to 2016, the brothers, Drew and Jonathan Scott, filmed two seasons of their shows — Buying & Selling and Property Brothers — in the New York City suburbs of Westchester and Rockland counties, where Zillow said the median home value for each county was $566,300 and $418,300 as of June. Across the USA for the same period the median home value, where half the dwellings are less expensive and half are more, was $199,200.
"There's a lot of people who make a lot of money in real estate," said Jonathan Scott, one of the identical-twin TV stars. "But there's also a lot of people who lose a lot of money because they don't know what they are doing."
The Scotts were featured guests Friday for a panel discussion at Google headquarters in Manhattan.
The event, sponsored by Chase Home Lending and Google, also was an occasion for the two companies to release a summary of their collaborative study, Search for Homes Snapshot.
The study indicated that millennials, a loosely defined generation that begins around 1981 but spans until 1997 or 2004 depending on which demographer is cited, are becoming more interested in owning homes: In 2016, 44% of Google searches related to the term "mortgage" was about first-time buyer mortgages, up by 11% from 2015. Previously, they have been slow to enter the housing market because of student debt and career setbacks related to the recession.
The trend is reflected on Chase's mortgage business as well: Customers younger than 35 accounted for 36% of the bank's new mortgages in 2016, up by 16% from the year before.
Drew Scott, a real-estate agent, advised first-time homebuyers to do their homework before showing up for an open house.
"You narrow your search down online, and even before you are searching for your property, you are narrowing down what you can afford, using (online) financial calculators," Drew Scott said during the forum.
"Whether to find a contractor for renovation, whether it's buying and selling, you have to get organized because the more information you have right from the get-go, the easier the process, the less stressful it’s going to be."
Jonathan Scott, a contractor, told aspiring homeowners not to be fixated on move-in-ready homes.
"Lose the ego. This is a business decision. Don't go in and say, 'Well, I can't settle for a house that's not perfect. I'm not going to settle for something that’s gross.'" he said. "Don't be afraid to take on a fixer-upper. Put a little bit of elbow grease and fix it up and then you just help secure a safer retirement for yourself."
Even if you can put your ego aside, financing a renovation project can be tricky for first-time buyers because their resources tend to be limited.
To assist those young buyers, financial products and programs are available, said Mike Wise, senior lending manager at JP Morgan Chase, who also was on the panel.
"There're two ways to help millennials: Help them to have less money down and less closing costs," Wise said, giving examples such as a loan product that requires a minimum down payment of 3% and a first-time homebuyer education program that comes with a $500 grant to reduce closing costs.
The education piece is important, not only to find additional money but also to become a financially savvy homeowner, Wise said.
► June 2016: 'Property Brothers' star escapes charges after N.D. bar scuffle
► February 2016: HGTV's 'Property Brothers' can sing
"There are two things going in tandem when we talk about homeowhership," Wise said. "It's being able to buy a home and sustainability: How I stay in the house once I get it."
The Scott brothers, who star in a Chase commercial filmed in White Plains, N.Y., couldn't agree more.
"Education is the biggest thing," Jonathan Scott said. "If you are going to do it right, you need to know what you are doing."
► September 2015: Property Brothers sign 'Dream' book deal
► April 2015: 'Property Brothers' hit streets of New York, New Jersey, Connecticut
Drew Scott chimed in:
"If you are organized and you are educated as to what to expect and you are surrounding yourself with professionals, you will be successful in real estate."
Follow Akiko Matsuda on Twitter: @LohudAkiko