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By Marene Gustin
Hunky twins Jonathan and Drew Scott blew into Galveston Island like a mini hurricane with their HGTV reality show Brother vs. Brother last year.
A spinoff of their popular Property Brothers show, Brother vs. Brother—which continues tonight, June 7—pits the twins against each other. They’re each given a certain amount of money ($600,000 in this case) to buy, renovate and decorate a home. Celebrity judges from other DIY shows decide who did it best, the winner gets bragging rights, and then the homes are sold with profits going to Rebuilding Together, a nonprofit for affordable housing. Sounds like fun, right?
“It was fun,” says David Bowers, a licensed attorney and Realtor with The House Company on Galveston Island. “But it was also crazy.”
It all started last June when Scott Brothers Entertainment (the production company for the brothers’ multiple DIY reality shows) contacted the Houston Film Commission, which put them in touch with Bowers. The team was looking for homes along the Gulf Coast for the fifth season of Brother vs. Brother. Bowers says they looked at several areas along the coast but only Galveston in Texas. And Galveston won.
“The advance team and I looked at over 250 listings, online and in person,” Bowers says. “We narrowed it down to 26 properties, and Drew flew in and looked at them in an eight-hour span.”
The team finally chose two West End canal homes, a one-story and a two-story, both on pier-and-beam stilts. Because of hurricane surges, most West End homes sit on stilts.
“The brothers are great, and lots of fun,” Bowers says. “But everyone on the project has an incredible work ethic. It was common for me to work weekends, and it was nothing to get texts and emails from the advance people at 11 p.m.” The production company is based in Canada and the brothers live in Las Vegas with an office in Los Angeles, so time zones were irrelevant.
Bowers lives with his partner, John Nagy, in an 1899 Victorian home that survived Hurricane Ike. Bowers said Nagy didn’t mind the late hours.
“He was very supportive and quite excited,” he says. “In fact, he wanted to document everything and put it on Facebook, but the team is very controlling about keeping everything quiet until the season premiere.”
But there certainly was some low-key buzz about filming when it began earlier this year. Part of the challenge was that the loser of each episode had to do the other’s bidding. In episode one of season five (which aired May 31), Drew won, and Jonathan had to ride the scary Cyclone at the Pleasure Pier. Over and over and over.
And there was a less public Galveston outing for Drew and his fiancée, Linda Phan, who are fans of ghost tours.
“Someone here saw a tweet Drew posted saying he and Linda were bored on a ghost tour,” Bowers says. “And they told him that his Realtor in Galveston gave ghost tours.”
So Bowers obliged and took the couple on a tour of haunted homes in the historic Silk Stocking District, including the famous Broadway and Ashton Villa mansions. He even took them to the haunted mansion infamous suspected murderer Robert Durst tried to purchase while he was in prison. Apparently the couple wasn’t bored.
As for the West End canal homes, after being renovated and fully furnished, they were put on the market March 21, after filming had finished. Bowers says both sold within five days.
As wildly popular as the brothers’ TV shows are, Galveston could see a real estate bump from season five of Brother vs. Brother.
“In the first episode, they must have said how reasonable the prices in Galveston were at least six or seven times,” Bowers says. He definitely thinks the market will see a bump because of this exposure.
All in all, he says it was a wonderful experience and he thinks the twins are amazing, work oriented and fun guys.
So what was the funniest thing that happened during the past year?
“Oh, I can’t tell you that!” Bowers laughs.
Brother vs. Brother airs Wednesday nights at 8 on HGTV.