A TRUE HOMEBODY
By Niesha Gate
Photography by Beth Baugher
MICHELE VAN DER VEEN makes dozen of small decisions every day; what type of flooring to use, what window coverings to mount, what faucet to install. But those little decisions add up to big payoffs for her home rehabbing business, Five Points Investments. Think house flipping on steroids. Van Der Veen (along with her husband and partner, Ken Van Der Veen) doesn't just clean and paint. She tears down walls, makes bathrooms out of linen closets and create move-in-ready homes throughout Sacramento County.
Building a foundation
Van Der Veen started building custom homes in 1996 before turning her attention to a food packing and distributing business. After a stint in North Carolina, where she trained as a dressed rider for several prestigious competitions, including the Olympics, she returned to California and began rehabbing homes. Now the business is in its fourth year, Van Der Veen and her husband buy, rehab and sell about 18 homes a year.
Homes to flip over
Walk into one of Van Der Veen's projects and you're transported to a scene out of a magazine photo shoot. Fresh flowers, adorn tables, soft candles scent the air, and music tinkles in the background. Decor is thoughtful and themed, such as French or nautical. No detail is overlooked. "I like to make a finished product," says Van Der Veen, who has a design degree.
Real estate agents drive from throughout the region to see her projects. "You have to keep switching it up and keep them interested in your houses because they're going to bring in the buyer," Van Der Veen says.
Not a pretty picture
When the homes are ready for sale, it's hard to imagine how far they've come. Van Der Veen has seen it all; houses full of cockroaches, rat droppings on kitchen counters, urine-soaked carpeting. "I have to prepare myself because at first I'm overwhelmed by how bad it is."
Oh, the irony
When Van Der Veen goes home at night, it isn't to a house like the ones she's rehabbed. It's to a 34-foot-long fifth wheel she shares with her husband and two of their three children. The couple is in the process of building their dream home-when they're not busy turing houses from battered to beautiful. "Everyone keeps telling us we should have our own TV show," she jokes.