Monday, October 18, 2010

The Vanilla Ice Project

I added another TV show to the DVR Series List:  The Vanilla Ice Project from the DIY Network.  How I would have loved to been the person who pitched this idea.

You probably remember Vanilla Ice like this, right?

Well, who knew that Vanilla Ice is now a house flipper?  And it seems like he's a good one.  Rob (his real name) has been doing it on the side for 10+ years.  Until the real estate market dropped, Rob's business centered more on buying land and building houses.  "Now I can buy a home [for less money] than I can build one, and I don't have to go through that long-term process of building it. I can get these distressed homes, and get some really good deals. Then three or four months later, I can make money. It's very profitable. And it's something I enjoy doing." ( Interview

Although he swears that he's still a rapper, maybe he should stick to what he does best.  His show centers around him flipping this 7,000 sq. ft. mansion in the Versailles community of Palm Beach.

Originally valued at $2.5 million, the house was completely gutted by the previous owners during the foreclosure process.  Rob bought it from the bank on a short sale for around $420,000 and planned on spending $300,000 on the renovation.  Once complete, the house should easily be valued for over $1 million.  This is definitely the case of a house having "good bones" - since there's really nothing else left.

The Versailles community is pretty notorious for being the center of several real estate fraud rings.  People were paid to get a mortgage for a property.  Then, sometimes within hours, the property was resold to another person for a several hundreds of thousands of dollars more.  These owners usually lied on their mortgage applications about their income and assets - most of them claiming they made $40K+ a month, while they were actually living on assistance or on very modest incomes.  (Several of these buyers are now facing jail time.)  The second owner quickly defaulted - costing the banks involved upwards of $40 million dollars.  Not that I necessarily feel bad for the banks - because obviously they shouldn't be handing out million dollar mortgages to just anyone.  But, as well all know from the last couple of years, these issues affect everyone.  The Versailles community, where Rob lives with his family, at one point had more than 50 houses in foreclosure.  So, although he's in it to make money, he's also trying to help the community he lives in.

I was pretty impressed by the first two episodes.  Rob and his crew worked on the landscaping and pool.  Although a lot of the information he gave was very Florida-centric (such as different lifespans of palm trees), he was always eager to step in and do the work himself.  A perfect fit for the DIY channel.

I'll wait to hold judgment on  his renovating style.  The highlight of the backyard is an infiniti pool - achieved by taking down part of a fence blocking the back yard from an alligator-infested lake.  They didn't show a great shot of the house from that angle, so maybe it's impossible for an alligator to find its way into the backyard - but that's not how it looked to me.

I'm also not sure if I'll be able to take any great tips away from the show.  When you renovate a mansion, you have to use great finishes and features.  Spending $5,000+ on running gas lines to a couple of tiki torches in the backyard wouldn't fly around here - but those are the kind of details that people with money to burn (literally) appreciate.

The team is going to revamp the master bedroom this week.  Will you be tuning in?  Or did you get "Ice, Ice Baby" stuck in  your head from just reading this post?

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