As one of HGTV’s most popular shows, Love It or List It, Too, follows families whose homes no longer suit their needs, leaving them with a dilemma: Renovate their current home or sell it so they can move into something better? To solve this, designer Jillian Harris and Realtor Todd Talbot compete to win over the homeowner’s final choice to stay or move. Both Harris and Todd have budgets to work carefully within to make the homeowner’s dreams come true.
On the “List It” side, Todd Talbot uses his real estate expertise to try to help homeowners find properties that satisfy their needs and desires to get them to relocate. His skills are sharp, but Talbot is more than just a great Realtor. A veteran actor, entrepreneur, and proud family man, Talbot wears many hats and manages to make it all look good from the houses he shows homeowners, down to his wardrobe on the show. His look is carefully curated.
With his personal closet being his show wardrobe, it presents its own set of challenges when it comes to shopping.
“We get a clothing allowance, for the show, but beyond that this is where the glamorous part kind of ends,” he says. “I do all my own shopping for everything—and don’t get me wrong, Vancouver is one of my favorite cities in the entire world and I do truly love it—but the shopping for men’s clothes in Vancouver is not what it is in some other cities. It’s a little bit casual here, it’s a little more laid back. There’s lots of women’s clothing stores, but it’s a little bit tougher to find men’s clothes.”
Shopping challenges notwithstanding, Vancouver is still his favorite city. Born and raised in the city, Talbot finds a lot to love about the place his family and he call home. “There are so many things I love about the city, but one of the things is the geography. We’re located right on the ocean. I’m a water person—I love it. Plus, I’m a big skier and we’ve got Whistler Blackcomb and local mountains. I love that it’s casual and laid back,” Talbot says. He’s not the only one charmed by the beauty of Vancouver.
Revealing “people are finding out how fantastic” Vancouver is, Talbot has noticed the city changing for quite some time, thanks to the Olympics in the last few years.
“There’s tons of people moving here from all over the world based on the more big-picture elements—the fact that we have people moving here who recognize the fact that we have glorious clean air, clean water, our banking system is rock solid so that people are feeling confident about investing their money here,” Talbot says.
With a strong political environment, Talbot believes all of those big picture elements drive the real estate market fruitfully.
Part of Talbot’s appreciation for Vancouver comes from his time living in London, England to attend theater school. While best known for his work on Love It or List It, Too, Talbot is an accomplished actor who has worked in film, television, and theater. For Talbot, acting is how he got his start.
“I did a TV series for Nickelodeon, we did sixty-five episodes. It was called Fifteen. There was kind of a core group of us that did all five seasons,” he says. Shooting in Universal Studios, Orlando, Talbot reveals how the first season of that that show was filmed in Vancouver.
“We ended up shooting our subsequent seasons at Universal which is a really cool and life-changing experience for a bunch of us,” he says. “The whole Love it Or List It, Too thing came about because I was enjoying my acting career. I was very fortunate to be working [in both] film and television, but I’d kind of gone away from film and TV, and was working full time in live theater.”
After getting a call from a producer friend of his who Talbot had worked with in the past, he learned they was a casting call for a show called, Love It or List It.
“He thought of me because of my television background and I was comfortable on camera and all that good stuff, but also because over ten years at that time I’d started investing in real estate on the side as a hobby,” Talbot says.
His hobby also made him something of an expert. “I’d just gotten more and more into it as a passionate project,” Talbot says. “I started getting pretty good at it in terms of identifying properties and buying them, then renovating them, renting them out, and that whole realm of being a real estate investor.”
It was from then on that Talbot would start venturing into a new passion, doing workshops for the acting community to educate people on the process.
“It was something that allowed me to do the thing that I loved to do so it kind of took the pressure off of taking a certain gig if I didn’t want to take it,” Talbot says. “I just felt passionate about the fact that my community needed to do the same thing. I was kind of the go-to real estate guy in the acting world here in Vancouver. Shel Piercy, the guy who was hired to do the show here in Vancouver, phoned me up and said this might be a good fit. I like saying yes to pretty much everything and seeing how it would go.”
It has definitely gone places. Love It or List It, Too is broadcast on HGTV in the United States as well as on the W Network in Canada (where the show is known as Love It or List it Vancouver). It was an unexpected, but welcome change for Talbot.
“My career definitely took a sharp right turn into this world on TV and it’s been a really fun journey,” he says. “It’s opened up all kinds of different adventures and my scripted career in theater in television is a little bit on hold at the moment due to the fact that we film all year round, but at some point it’d be nice to see if I could find a balance between the two.”
Finding balance is something that Talbot actively works at, but it’s also something that he has pretty solid advice about as well. In addition to the show, Talbot is also the west coast editor for HOSS Magazine. For the busy father of two it all comes down to commitment and being passionate about your passion.
“I believe strongly in finding something that you’re passionate about and the money will kind of take care of itself after that—there’s a bit of a leap of faith,” he says. “One thing I am a firm believer in is that you have to share what you’re passionate about in order for other people to understand what it is. If you try to create all the opportunities just yourself, it’s a lot of heavy lifting, but it’s amazing what happens when you start just talking about what you’re passionate about.”
Talbot goes on to say what a great example the show has been for him. “I had no intention, like zero, of being on a reality TV show on HGTV,” Talbot says. “But I think the opportunity created itself, not because I planned it, but because I just pursued that whole world of real estate with no expectation and I just kept putting it out there in the world and putting out there and putting it out there.”
Talbot says that beyond passion though, is the idea of committing. For him what worked was not having a plan B—it was an outlook of optimistic self-assurance.
“I probably wouldn’t give this advice to my own kids, but I gave it to myself and I think it’s helped,” he says. “When I was a young actor there [were] lots of people kind of in my life who were very supportive, but also encouraged having that backup plan. I was a big believer that if I had a backup plan that was the excuse for me to fail. I decided that at some point I may decide not to do this, but if I’m going to choose to do it I’m going for it 100%, no backup. I think when you do it with such commitment then the rest of the world kind of gets out of the way and makes some space for you. There’s a mentality about commitment that shifts when you pursue things.”
Talbot’s advice about commitment applies well to the world of home buying. Whether it’s a family on the show trying to decide to sell or stay, or someone buying a home for the first time, the concerns are the same.
“Everyone asks the same question: Is now a good time to buy? It’s a complicated and a very personal answer for everybody because everybody’s situation is different,” Talbot says. “A couple of things that I think are important, especially as a first time buyer is look at the property as an investment. This is not going to be your forever home. It doesn’t need to be your dream home. It needs to be a great space for you to make into your home and make sure it is a good, solid investment.”
When looking towards a home as an investment, Talbot shares a few key suggestions to consider.
“One of the things that I suggest is that people need to prioritize location over everything else,” he says. “It’s very expensive to buy close to the downtown core, [but] I suggest people to sacrifice some of the elements of the house to stay as close to the core as possible because if there is a shift in the economics and the market goes down, it normally goes down from the outside in.”
Further emphasizing the prioritization of location, Talbot advises buyers to not spend too much money, “keep it modest” and find whatever is affordable for yourself.
“You don’t want to get yourself into trouble,” he says. “Think of yourself as investor first and that you are renting your property from yourself. As a renter your expectations are way lower than as a buyer. Likely, you’re going to live there for three to five years. People think they’re going to be there forever, but they’re not. Life changes. Life is fluid.”