Photo caption: Finding, buying and fixing up dilapidated, vacant houses in the Orlando area is what these experts do best as part of the TV show, “Zombie House Flipping.” Shown from left: Keith Ori, Ashlee Casserly Greenberg, Peter Duke and Justin Stamper, plus Stamper’s chocolate Lab, Marley.
ORLANDO, Fla. — Realtors® Justin Stamper and Ashlee Casserly Greenberg are making a name for themselves by doing what they love – home rehabs.
“My family was going through some hard times. We lost our small business during the recession. It wiped us out,” he says. “We didn’t even know the home was going to auction.”
The home was sold at the local courthouse, and the people who bought the house had no idea that anyone still lived there.
“They were nice enough to give us the option of buying the home back if we could give them the money quickly. We borrowed money from friends and family and raised enough to buy our home back. They charged us $50,000 more than what they paid,” he says.
Stamper and his father fixed up the house and sold it two months later at a profit.
“It was the first time my family made any form of income since the recession. The person who lent us money got his investment back and then some,” says Stamper. Thus, began his entrance into flipping houses.
“I was hooked. I was 18 years old. My family was broke, so I didn’t have the option of going to college. I was a line cook at a Disney steakhouse at night and went to the county courthouse during the day to bid on properties using the capital we earned from the sale of our house,” he says.
He would buy $30,000 to $40,000 properties, fix them up and sell them for $70,000 or more.
“Between 2008-2011, we bought 110 properties at auction,” he says. He says they’re called zombie houses because they are uninhabitable.
“They are abandoned and left rotting. These are hoarder houses, those with black mold and suicides – you name it,” he says.
Greenberg earned a degree in architecture in Ireland and moved to San Francisco where she got her license to sell real estate. From California, she moved to Washington, D.C., where she worked as a home stager before finally moving to Florida in 2011.
She earned her Florida real estate license that same year. She and Stamper were working for the same company at the time. Greenberg decided to open her own company and had a website selling the homes that Stamper rehabbed.
Soon after, Greenberg got a call from a Hollywood, California production company asking about her website and if she flipped properties.
“They told me they were looking for people to feature on a show about abandoned homes, called Zombie House Flipping. I thought it was a scam,” she laughs.
But, the production company was persistent, and when she told Stamper about it, he pursued it. The rest is history. They filmed their first season in 2015 and second season in early 2017. The show is featured on television stations A&E Saturdays at 10 a.m. and FYI on Saturday at 10 p.m.
Zombie house flippers
Greenberg and Stamper work with a team. There’s Greenberg, who is the Realtor, while Stamper is the money guy who oversees the budget. Plus, there’s the designer, Peter Duke, and the builder, Keith Ori, and Stamper’s chocolate Lab, Marley, who Stamper says is the true star of the show. Now, the television crew and the rehab experts are all good friends.
“We rehab multiple properties at the same time. It’s a large production and very organized,” says Greenberg.
“Last season, we renovated a house in which the prior owner committed suicide, and there were still blood stains in the house. We had to wear hazmat suits in that home,” adds Stamper, who says they’re doing everything they would be doing already – just now it’s on camera.
“The biggest issue,” she says, “is that it changes our timeline. They don’t film when we have to go to Home Depot 17 times because we forgot something. And, we find that we have to buy our supplies very early in the morning or late at night because we film from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. or so.”
When they’re not filming, says Stamper, “You’ll see our team in our natural roles in life. Ashlee is at our brokerage working with the 11 agents in the brokerage; I’m out looking for property, Duke is rehabbing his own homes to flip and more.”
Both Greenberg and Stamper say the benefits of the show are many as they get recognized all around town as the ‘zombie’ house flippers.
“I was at the drugstore the other day, and the man behind the counter recognized me from the show,” says Greenberg.
In addition, people call them with properties to buy.
“A lot of people hit us up on the website. They like us working with them to buy a house because the idea of a fixer-upper isn’t as daunting. We have an amazing team that they can access, so they’re not as scared to move forward,” says Stamper.
Also, the idea of rebuilding and stabilizing communities and neighborhoods is important to them.
Stamper says, “We won a historic preservation award a few years ago and another award last year. Every chance you have to rebuild a boarded-up home or remove squatters from abandoned homes improves the neighborhood.”
And, many of the homes help first-time homebuyers find affordable choices.
“It’s a great feeling to sell a home to a first-time homebuyer,” says Greenberg.
Want to catch an episode of Zombie House Flipping? Go to http://www.fyi.tv/shows/zombie-house-flipping for a schedule.