Trying to sell your house and buy a new property where you can live next? A new HGTV show, “Two Steps Home,” highlights this crazy juggling act, and hosts Mary and Jon Pierre Tjon-Joe-Pin feel your pain.
After helping sellers on their show “Going for Sold,” Jon Pierre (a real estate agent) and Mary (a designer) realized that, since most sellers are also buyers, a show like “Two Steps Home” (which premieres on Wednesday) could provide some helpful advice on how to simultaneously ace both sides of the negotiation process. And since the COVID-19 pandemic has fueled this spring’s real estate market to be one of the hottest ever, this Houston-based couple believes it’s more important than ever to understand what you’re up against.
Curious about how they got started and the challenges of buying and selling in this record-setting seller’s market, we spoke with Mary and Jon Pierre to hear their best advice and common mistakes people make.
Real estate was a second career for you both. What got you into the field?
Jon Pierre: I was in the oil industry, and Mary was a flight attendant. We were kind of just looking for the next thing for us to do and watching a lot of HGTV at the time.
At the time, flipping was really hot and the market in Houston was good. So we decided to take a stab at that. It didn’t go so well the first time around, but we learned a lot and it got better from there.
This is your second series on HGTV. What’s it like working behind the scenes on a reality show?
Mary: We say we need a show about making the show, because … you would never believe what we have to do. It’s so much work and so emotionally draining. We’re not afraid of work, but the emotional roller coaster is something else, especially right now with COVID and not just the state of the market, but also the difficulties of materials not being available.
Jon Pierre: One of the biggest things lately is just supply chain. There are so many times when everyone’s trying to get ready to reveal a house, and then one week before, a refrigerator is not available or a door is not available. So we’ve got to scramble to figure out how to make this house complete for our clients so we can reveal it to them.
Given people usually want to buy in a buyer’s market and sell in a seller’s market—and your clients can’t do both—is there a right time to start this process?
Jon Pierre: The best advice that I would give my clients is to do what’s right for you, at the moment. And I think that’s one of the things you’ll get to see in this show is that some of our clients are moving for financial reasons, some of them for personal reasons.
It doesn’t always work out to be a financial gain or loss. But it has to be right in the long run.
What sort of updates do you recommend to clients when they’re trying to sell a home for top dollar?
Jon Pierre: Paint for sure. Anytime you have older walls, they can all use a great refresh. One of the things that Mary talks about a lot is the jewelry—like the hardware and lighting and fixtures. Those can really go a long way as well.
Mary: Right. I always say it’s like putting an outfit together, and you just you can’t forget your accessories. Otherwise, you just don’t feel complete. So if you paint your cabinets, definitely add some hardware. If you can, update your backsplash. You just want everything to look fresh and clean.
On the flip side of that, are there any home fixes that you guys recommend sellers usually skip?
Jon Pierre: Whenever you’re renovating, you’ve got to understand you’re not renovating for your personal taste. And so even though you may love, say, a nice, bright pink wall, that’s not going to be for the buyers. Save the personal renovations for your next house.
Just make sure your house is well-kept and keep it neutral, not too unique or specific.
Buying and selling at the same time can get tricky, especially if you’re stuck paying two mortgages.
Jon Pierre: It is definitely difficult. But the way the market is now, it’s not hard to sell your house.There are just so many buyers. And if you’re doing the right things, your house is going to sell relatively quickly.
One thing we have noticed is the time between when your house does sell and when you can actually buy the next house seems to be a little bit longer now. So it’s less about having the money to do both. It’s more about how do you live your actual life without necessarily having a place to live? It’s about making that bridge.
For buyers, are there certain updates or projects that they should do before moving in?
Mary: Anything that requires a lot of dust. You definitely don’t want to be in a house when they’re painting walls. Painting cabinets or maybe replacing your countertop, that kind of stuff can be done after you move in.
You don’t have to do everything all at once. Think about the overall vision for the house.
What are the most common mistakes you’ve seen your clients make when selling?
Jon Pierre: One thing that Mary always tells people is to declutter and make sure you’re keeping your house as beautiful as possible. Because when you’re selling your house, you’re actually selling a dream to the next person. You want that person to be able to walk in and see their future and their vision of what owning the home looks like.
Mary: The other thing is making sure that you know the comps and what you can actually realistically sell your house for. I’ve had to really counsel clients: “Hey, don’t get greedy.” If you price your house too high, it will sit there.