Jon Pierre & Mary Tjon-Joe-Pin on How They Take Clients ‘Two Steps Home’
A fresh coat of paint and a few relatively inexpensive upgrades can go a long way in the world of Jon Pierre and Mary Tjon-Joe-Pin. The Houston couple who won over HGTV viewers with their master flipping skills on Going for Sold is back with Two Steps Home, premiering July 16 on the network. The series sees the two work with clients to get top dollar out of their current property in order to buy and overhaul their new home.
Mary’s budget-conscious eye for design and DIY is complemented by Jon’s real estate savviness and ability to swing a sledgehammer. We caught up with the pair to talk details.
What are some of the challenges you faced trying to buy and sell in such a crazy competitive housing market?
Jon Pierre: Each of our clients knew going in they would be renovating their house, so it gave them a little more flexibility of what they could buy. We had the ability to go into each house, not look at it as a finished product, but see the potential. It broadens the base for them to look at more properties to make something work, compared to so many buyers right now who are focused on just buying a house with everything in there they want right now. That narrows down what houses are available. There is the bidding war, and the consistency of not getting the house is much higher.
Mary, what’s your thought process when it comes to deciding what changes need to be made before putting a client’s house on the market?
Mary Tjon-Joe-Pin: I’ve always been very budget-conscious, but Jon really gives me a lot of information in terms of cost in a particular area. In the first episode, where I say, “You know, I got to paint that front door,” I’m also thinking about making the house stand apart from the competition in the area. It is really a competition. You want buyers to come to your house over the others. So in my eyes, my job is to do things that are budget-friendly to make that house stand apart from the competition.
One tip you put out there is the importance of staging the house with furniture and decor rather than just showing an empty space.
Mary: I think staging is extremely important. I read where over 80 percent of homes that are staged sell faster than houses that are not. You think about new home construction. They make those people walk into a model home. Then later on they find out you got to pay for that granite. Setting the stage is like setting the blueprint of what their home could be. You’re selling that dream. Then you’re able to, especially on our show, personalize it for that particular client to where it’s better than they can even imagine.
How was it connecting with these families you’re helping to really gauge what they’re looking for?
Jon: We enjoy really personalizing each house. Whether it’s helping one of our clients, who is a baker, make her house a home and place to run her business or another who has a lot of kids and homeschools and needs the space where it’s a classroom and their home. It gives you an emotional pull. As renovators, you know you’re not just making a house beautiful, but you’re making a house a home and making it the dream they always wanted. It really does feel good to give them more than just making a house pretty.
Have you run into instances where they want to stay where they are because you did such a good job with their current residence?
Mary: We have, bless their hearts. It’s interesting because when we are working with the clients and going into the houses they are selling because they lived there, they can tell us what they didn’t like about the house. Then we’re able to fix those things within reason for the next buyer. Making those little changes of even closing in a door. For them, it was like, “Man, if we knew this was the potential of the house, we would have stayed here.” We’re like, “No, no, no. We’re putting it on the market. Let’s keep it moving. Just think about the money and the fact you’re getting something better.”
You both left your day jobs to jump into the deep end of running a business together. You’re also parents. What was the transition like? Is it hard to separate work from home life?
Mary: We’re trying to figure it out. I can tell you we’ve been married for 12 years, and I feel like our journey has been a constant transition. As Jon can tell you, I do not like change. We’ve had to make a lot of adjustments and still are. There is so much we’re learning each day about our roles. You think about in your traditional sense when I was a flight attendant, and he was working his 9 to 5, we still talked about our workday. Except now, we’re the coworkers.
Jon: We’re human, so there are plenty of times where we are not vibing. Now that we have kids, it gives us inspiration. Whenever our daughter is like, “Daddy, you break things and destroy things. And mommy you fix things.”
How have the kids adjusted to the fact that when you go to Home Depot or Lowe’s you are recognized as the couple from HGTV?
Mary: They can care less. I can tell you the times I’ve been at Home Depot with the children I have to put them on the flatbed and pull them around. They are the ones waving to people like they are on a parade float. Nobody cares about us. They’re like, “Here are mommy and daddy on TV. Yeah, great.” They want to watch something else and are upset when we want to watch our show and can’t watch theirs.
You were part of Erin and Ben Napier’s Home Town Takeover. What did it mean to you to be part of this collaborative effort to renovate the town of Wetumpka? I liken all these personalities coming together to the Marvel Cinematic Universe where the Avengers are assembling.
Mary: First of all, I love that analogy. I am a huge Marvel junky. If there was ever a party, Storm is who I would come dressed as. Being on Home Town Takeover was such an amazing experience. Meeting these people who are real humans and felt like why us. They didn’t feel they were deserving. The people who feel like they are not worthy of something, you want to give more to. It felt like the universe had put us in the right place at the right time.
Jon: Probably the most inspiring and humble experience I’ve ever had professionally. It was incredible to walk in and see the gratitude radiating from not just an individual but an entire town.
Mary: Jon and I just remain in a constant state of gratefulness.
Two Steps Home, Series Premiere, Wednesday, June 16, 9/8c, HGTV