Flipping Houses as Lucrative as Music: Vanilla Ice

Vanilla Ice
Vanilla Ice

He spent years in the music industry but the singer known as rapper Vanilla Ice told CNBC Friday he's found the real estate market nice, nice, baby.

Rob Van Winkle told "Street Signs" buying dilapidated houses, refurbishing them and then selling them — usually at a big profit — has been just as profitable for him as when he was singing "Ice, Ice, Baby" on the radio.

“They’re both pretty good, to be honest with you," he said. "The great thing is I found another passion that does make money.”

He has spent the past 15 years flipping houses in Florida, and since 2010 he’s been plying his craft on reality TV with “The Vanilla Ice Project.”

“The short sales, the foreclosures are great, but tax auctions are even better,” he said. “I just bought the Season Three house on a tax auction. If no one's bidding against you and it’s an absolute auction, you can steal the homes for pennies on the dollar.”

As usual with real estate, the most important thing is location. Van Winkle has focused his flipping on homes in the Palm Beach area because he knows the area so well.

Regarding Palm Beach and other hard-hit Florida housing markets, Van Winkle said, “A lot of the areas that got hit hard during the housing downturn are some of the first areas to come back out of it because they were desirable then and they're desirable now. They just got hit with a bomb there for a minute.”

He says that home buyers today are shying away from homes with bigger properties but located far away from everything else. People are moving where they can be closer to airports, restaurants, and shopping, Van Winkle explains, because with the rising cost of gas, they don’t want to commute.

As for what they’re looking for in a house, he says, “People like the homes with a lot of feng shui, eight-foot doors, vaulted ceilings. Your backyard is very important that’s why I put in a lazy river and a tiki hut, to represent we’re outside in Florida.”