From treehouses to TV, Roth shares the journey to building her dreams.
If you ask Jasmine Roth when she first ventured into real estate, the blossoming star of HGTV’s “Hidden Potential” has to laugh.
“I would say in utero,” Roth responded with a chuckle. “My parents moved from New Jersey to Virginia when I was just a thought. They bought a piece of land and cleared it. They knocked down the trees, and floated them down the river and milled those logs into a log cabin. I've been building since before I was even born, via my family.”
With a childhood full of tree houses, zip lines, sheds, dog houses and a myriad of open houses, Roth’s real estate, and building roots run deep. Though not full-time real estate investors, Roth’s parents were frequently building, remodeling or flipping homes, providing a ripe environment to cultivate Roth’s curiosity, skills, and creativity in real estate, she said.
“You name it, we built it,” Roth recalled of her youth construction experience. “I grew up around tools. We spent a lot of time measuring, going to the lumber yard, and figuring out how we were going to build these one-of-a-kind structures.”
For Roth, it’s been a winding, serendipitous journey since her youth in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley to landing a show on national television that revamps humdrum suburban homes. But while her platform and business have grown immensely, her familial philosophy on real estate remains steadfast.
The source of her passion for real estate ultimately leads back to the family, she said.
“It’s not really about the real estate or the building so much as the fact that it’s where the family is — I think that's the backbone of real estate,” Roth said. “Whether it's in real life or on my show, or if it's me building a little doll house for my nephew in my garage or if I'm building a brand new home for my husband and me, it’s the same thing. You're building an experience. You're building a place for somebody to spend time in and have memories.”
Forging her own way
Armed with a degree in entrepreneurship from Northeastern University, Roth was greeted with a rocky economy and bleak job market in 2008. She bounced from consulting work to nonprofit management to human resources before she and her husband, Brett, decided to buy a tract of land to build a home in Huntington Beach, Calif.
To offset the cost of their home, the couple decided to construct an investment property adjacent to their home while helping build on the weekends.
But two years into the project in 2012, the couple recognized that enough simply wasn’t getting done. That’s when Roth rolled up her sleeves.
“Every extra moment that my husband and I had, we were working on our house, but it still wasn't moving forward or progressing,” she said. “Finally I was just like, ‘You know what? I'm going to go and work on this full-time, and I'm going to get it finished.’ … And that's exactly what I did. So I gave my two-week notice, and two weeks later I was on the job site.”
Acknowledging her ignorance of construction, Roth embraced her curiosity and began asking questions — lots of questions. She shadowed general contractors, carpenters, electricians, and plumbers, hoping to learn as much as possible on the home-building process. And when she faced challenges, she dedicated herself to research possible answers.
“They know their trade and I knew nothing. I just tagged along, helped where I could, and asked questions,” Roth said. “When they needed a decision made, I told them, ‘You know what? I don't know, but I'm going to find out.’ And I would work until I figured out what the answer was.”
Roth’s inquisitive nature and desire to learn proved valuable not only in building homes but throughout her life, she said.
“Every single day I learn something new, and every single day I admit what I don't know and what I have to find out,” the 33-year-old said. “Being curious and having the ability to ask questions — especially in real estate and renovating — is one of the best skills to have. It's one of the things that has 100 percent led to my success and continues to drive my success.”
In 2013, the Roths finally finished their home projects and sold their investment property, which was the first home sale in more than five years in Huntington Beach, she said. Satisfied and empowered by the sale, Roth realized just how much she loved the investment, design and building process. That passion eventually materialized into her residential development business, Built Custom Homes.
Telling her own story
As Built Custom Homes carved out a market in Huntington Beach, Roth was eager to document its projects and experiences along the way. Turning to Instagram, Roth shared behind-the-scenes details of her company’s home builds: demolitions, painting techniques, furniture rehabs, antique finds, finished projects and, of course, photos of her bulldog, Nala.
In addition to personal stories, Roth also aimed for impact with her social media approach. Frequently the only woman on build sites, Roth recognized that what she was doing was rare. As such, she employed the #WomenWhoBuild hashtag to create a community of women investors and homebuilders.
“As I started posting online, I realized that what I was doing was pretty unique and that there aren't very many women in construction,” she said. “So I started posting #WomenWhoBuild to bring that community together, and to nod to the fact that what I'm doing is a little bit different. … It's more just bringing attention to the fact that women can do this, and we can do it really well. Whether you're a guy or a girl, it doesn't really matter. As long as you're passionate about it and you're working your butt off, you can do really well in this industry.”
Fans and clients alike flocked to Roth’s company. And among her steadily growing base of Instagram followers was a production company contracted by HGTV, who loved Roth’s creative storytelling and approach to homebuilding.
“When I got a call from the production company working for HGTV they said, ‘Hey, we're interested in making a show about what you do. Would you be available for a FaceTime?’ I thought it was a joke,” she said. “But as soon I realized it wasn't a joke, that was a big, aha moment for me, that people are interested in what I'm doing.”
On a mission to empower
Roth’s call with producers eventually brought forth HGTV’s “Hidden Potential,” which focuses on transforming drab suburban homes into custom dream homes. Now in the midst of filming the show’s second season, Roth said she’s thankful to have the ability to live her passion, help her community and share it with the world.
“‘Hidden Potential’ is reality TV, so the cool thing is that I get to do what I love to do, and live my life — there just so happens to be a whole lot of cameras there,” she said. “Not really that much has changed because I always worked really hard, and I always had a lot of projects going. Really the only difference is that we're working a little bit faster because we do things fast for TV.”
Incorporating her “California Casual” style into homes, Roth is less about what's on-trend, and more about what is going to actually function and work for a family.
“It's sandy feet. It's bikes in the garage. It's surfboards on the front patio. It's open doors and barbecues, and it's just a lot of real life,” Roth said of her breezy, timeless design motifs. “As I've been hanging out here in California and travel a ton, I've gone a little bit more modern, but I still definitely have that traditional, craftsman background to my style.”
Regardless of the style, Built Custom Homes can’t keep up with customer demand, Roth said. Since launching the company, Built Custom Homes has completed 68 custom homes. And when you add in the 17 homes she’ll be revitalizing as part of the second season of “Hidden Potential,” Roth has a full plate.
“We're growing rapidly,” she said. “It's to the point right now where I have so many projects going on I can't take new clients, which is a good position to be in.”
"While she loves designing and building, as well as helping families, Roth said to be successful as a real estate investor you have to treat it seriously. Real estate investing is a business and you have to make logical decisions to thrive, she said.
“Real estate, unfortunately, a lot of the time, turns into an emotional practice,” Roth said. “But taking the emotion out of buying and selling real estate is the only way that you can be successful long-term as a real estate investor. And you have to treat it professionally.”
Whether it be through “Hidden Potential” or Built Custom Homes, Roth’s ultimate mission is to give people the tools and encouragement to add value to their homes in a way that’s functional and great for a competitive market.
“I get feedback from families and people saying, ‘Thank you so much, you gave me the confidence to redo my kitchen, or to buy this house that I wasn't sure about,’” she said. “It's just a pretty cool position to be in, to empower people.”