Seasoned real estate agents and stars of HGTV’s upcoming new series “Beat the House” Christopher Kromer and Jojo Jones both agree buying a house is one of the biggest purchases anyone will make in a lifetime. Therefore, navigating through what can be an overwhelming process without proper professional guidance can lead to uninformed decisions and a poor buying experience. In the worst case, buyers may ultimately feel they've made a terrible mistake and bought the wrong house.
HGTV’s fun and informative new real estate series premieres Jan. 7 and puts a twist on the home buying process as Christopher and Jojo compete against each other to convince couples who think they’ve already found their dream home that they have better options for them.
The charismatic and dynamic duo use very different approaches to finding the perfect home for a client. However, they both share a passion for working in a buyer’s best interest to meet their wants and needs and guide them towards purchasing the right home that’s the best overall fit for them.
The very charming and gracious Christopher and Jojo recently took time to discuss their “Beat the House” experience and share some professional insight and advice about the home buying process in the following Examiner exclusive interview.
New York Number Cruncher vs. Savvy Southern Charmer
A fun-loving camaraderie and friendly competitive spirit is easily apparent when speaking with Christopher Kromer and Jojo Jones, whose drastically different sales approaches may stem from their diverse backgrounds.
Christopher was born in Queens, and raised in New Jersey. He grew up in real estate, with his mother being a successful real estate broker. The former financial consultant gained his real estate license in New York in 2005 and currently works at Halstead Property Group.
The charismatic agent seeks the wisest investment and eagerly employs his number-crunching skills to help his clients make financially responsible decisions.
Jojo hails from a family of physicians in Macon, Georgia. Drawn to acting and theater, her love of people shifted her sights to opening her own boutique. Close friends quickly picked up on Jojo’s sales savvy spirit and eventually persuaded her to join them in selling houses.
She went into real estate in 2001 and admittedly fell in love with getting to know her clients and helping them find the right home.
Neither Christopher nor Jojo ever imagined selling houses on television, and both have thoroughly enjoyed their “Beat the House” experience.
Jojo said, “I have loved every minute of it. They were so sweet. I just don’t know how to thank everybody involved. I've not had anything but wonderful praise for all the people. Everybody from New York, and California. It’s just been so wonderful. I just love everybody.”
“It’s been a huge enjoyable experience, a lot of fun and also a big challenge,” added Christopher. “I think any time you bring a camera to the picture, people get nervous and it changes the whole equation. I think one of the challenges was making sure everybody was comfortable with the camera and just sort of going about our business. I think really quickly, after the first introduction, everybody got really comfortable with the camera and it was just really about the process.”
The extremely personable pair clicked immediately and quickly developed a great onscreen chemistry and mutual respect for each other.
“Meeting Christopher was really such a great joy in my life,” said Jojo. “He is just such a gentleman and so fun and so smart at what he does. The minute we got together it just seemed like we hit it off and we were able to understand each other and it’s just been a great joy.”
The “Beat the House” Battle
Once the camera rolls, the gloves are on and it’s a fierce battle to the home-buying finish as Christopher and Jojo work with couples to persuade them to buy the house they picked instead of one they've already chosen.
With the smartest investment as his chief focus, Christopher looks for the best value and the most financially sound choice.
He said, “I’m approaching it to find them the best house that’s going to be the most solid investment and the best value for them and that can mean a number of things. There was one couple who didn't want a fixer upper at all. So, we showed them a beautiful brand new house that was a wonderful value for them and it turns out not to be the ideal neighborhood for them. But value is very different and specific for each different couple.”
On the other hand Jojo wants her clients, above all, to be happy and feel good about their purchase.
She said, “Buying a house is the probably the most expensive thing that anyone will ever do. I want them to be happy and feel good and really love where they are because can you imagine getting a place and then hating it – and people do that. People call me six months later and say ‘I hate this house’ and I've got to resell it. I really want them to be content and I want it to be a positive, wonderful experience because where you live really does master with the whole plan for your life.”
When asked about whether or not they track who has racked up the most “wins” or if couples ever opt to keep their house, the animated duo lightheartedly admitted to feeling strongly that their pick was ultimately the best choice for the clients.
Christopher (who confessed to wearing his wins on his forehead) said, “They can stick with the house they originally wanted, or they can go with my house, which is usually the best house or they can go with Jojo’s house, which is the second best.”
A very bubbly Jojo described the competition between her and Christopher as “fun” but admitted being crushed by defeat. “Christopher and I certainly don’t like it when they keep the house that they chose. They can choose what they want, but it’s very disappointing when they choose Christopher’s to me. I love Christopher and I fell in love with the couples. I wish I could keep in contact with all of them because they have been truly precious. I want to know about their life and what their baby was and their children. They’re just all so cute. But whatever they choose, if they don’t choose mine, it’s just heartbreaking.”
Valuable Lessons and Sage Advice
Buying a new home can be overwhelming, especially for first time buyers. Christopher and Jojo are confident viewers can learn some valuable lessons by watching the choices and compromises the “Beat the House” couples make as they work through the home buying decision-making process with them on the show.
Notable common mistakes many home buyers make include looking at too many houses and attempting to buy a house without a passionate and knowledgeable agent.
Jojo advised, “There’s a lot of people out there that just are in it for the money and we all are working. But, you need a passionate agent on either side, buying or selling, that truly, truly has your best interest at heart. I think that both the buyers and sellers that we dealt with really saw that and I hope that will transfer to national television to people because it’s important. If you try to do it on your own, without any knowledge, you’re going to end up in a house that’s so wrong for you or that you way overpaid for.”
They also shared some important considerations when looking for a dream home.
Christopher stressed the importance of staying within individual financial boundaries and not becoming overextended with a home purchase.
He advised, “One of the most important things is, can you afford it? Is it comfortably within your budget and are you going to have the money at closing left over for any unexpected expenses that come up? In sort of a bigger picture, is this a house that’s gonna compliment your lifestyle and really work for your needs? I don’t think you can get everything you want. It’s a compromise of really figuring out what are the must haves and what are the things maybe you could do without. I think it’s about getting as many of those things you feel you must have in that house. I think also it’s very important that you look at a house that you can grow into because it’s a fixed asset with some pretty significant trading costs. You don’t want to put yourself in a position where you’re going to grow out of it and having to sell it in two or three years or three or four years which is even compounded in a softer market.”
Jojo’s first consideration is location, followed by the importance of how you feel about the house.
She said, “First of all, I want to put myself in the client’s heart. I wanna know exactly how they’re feeling and what’s going to make them feel good and enjoy their life. Number one, I think, is location, which is a typical real estate agent term, but it’s true. You have to be in the right place. You can’t buy a house and think it’s going to be a perfect thing in the world, because it will not. You have to be at the place that’s going to meet your needs, your children’s needs. Your parents’ needs, your job – whatever is going to make you feel less stressful. Location is by far, very, very important. Another thing that is really important to me, is I want you to buy a house that you love. But, if something happens, can you resell it if you have to. Don’t buy something just to do it. You wanna be able to resell it so you want all the great things about it. Because people want kitchens, bathrooms. They’re gonna want what you like about it and they’re not gonna like what you don’t like about it. So you better really love what you’re buying. Number three: Is it a fun house? You want to be in a fun house. You want to be happy. That’s the ultimate goal in life. You want to feel good and be happy. Is it great for entertaining? I don’t want you to compromise. I don’t want you to compromise on anything. We all have to, a little bit. But, in this market, there’s no need to compromise. Find what you want, in the right location that you feel good about. Listen to your agent. Listen to your agent, and you know what – you’re gonna love it.”
“Beat the House” is produced by Ardaban, a division of Shine America.
“Beat the House” premieres on HGTV on Tuesday, January 7, 2014 at 11 p.m. ET and 11:30 p.m. ET. Click here for a local channel guide.