The Van Der Veen's
This families love for homes started way before there was even a family. Ken and Michele grew up in Orange County and started dating at the age of 19 years old. At this time, there was a huge real estate boom taking place in Orange Country. Developers held lottery's for new homes and people were camping out in RV's in hopes to get their name picked to be able to be one of the lucky ones to have the opportunity to purchase a new home. Caught up in all the excitement of this “new home development” that was taking place, Ken and Michele would go on dates to see the model homes. Their love for homes started then. After a year of seeing every model home they could find, they got the idea of getting married and purchasing a home to call their own!
Married in 1987, Ken and Michele were then approached by Michele’s father who brought them to an old run down house in Villa Park, California. He could see Ken and Michele’s love for homes. He suggested that he would buy this old run down house, they could live in it, work on fixing it and then turn around and sell it for a profit! Ken and Michele pretty much thought he was crazy and didn’t take him up on this offer. Instead they bought a townhouse where they lived while attending college and then would start their family. Ken attended the University of Southern California getting a degree in business with emphasis on real estate. Michele attended and received her degree from the Interior Designers Institute of Newport Beach California.
By 1992, Ken and Michele we’re headed towards a life of working on what they loved most, houses. Due to a down turn in the real estate market and an opportunity for Ken to work in a new and up coming market, the organic food market, Ken took a job with an importer of organic fruits. By 1993, Ken and Michele started their family having Austin first then two years later Victoria was born. At age 30 and now with a third child on the way, Landon, they both decided it was time to try their hands in building a custom home for their growing family. Growing out of their townhouse quickly, they purchased five raw acres of land in Historic Placerville California, which is also known as Historic Gold Country. Together they designed and built their home, a 5,000 square foot Southern Style equestrian estate, doing much of the work themselves. Michele, being an avid equestrian her whole life, had a custom barn, round pen and full size dressage court built as well.
By 2006, Ken and Michele could see the real estate market headed for major trouble. The family decided that if there was ever a time to sell their house and move, it was now. They put their custom home up for sale for $1.5 million, $500,000 more then any house in that neighborhood had ever sold for. In less then 14 days, they had a full price offer. Due to Michele's riding career taking off, they now had their sights on building an equestrian estate in Southern Pines, North Carolina, where Michele could focus on training with her horse for the 2012 Olympics.
Within the first month of moving to North Carolina, Michele started shopping for houses to flip, even bringing their youngest daughter, who was only eleven years old at the time, to help her look for that perfect house to remodel. However, because Ken kept having doors open for him in the natural foods processing business, once again this idea of “flipping houses” was put on hold. With their company, SunPak Foods, purchasing over a million dollars worth of newer, faster equipment to help keep up with the demands of packing for Chiquita Banana, Whole Foods and their own label, Naturally Organic, this family’s lives took a devastating turn for the worst, or did it? None of the new equipment for their company ever worked properly and eventually put them out of business, which in turn pushed them into flipping houses and brought them back to what brought them together in the first place, their love for houses!
They left North Carolina with next to nothing and had to face starting their lives over. The family took what they had and moved back to Historic Gold Country, Amador County, California. With their three kids, horses, dogs and cats they moved onto a piece of raw land in a fifth wheel and began flipping houses to fight their way back. The first year they flipped two houses, the second year they did four, the third year they flipped ten, and their best year was flipping up to eighteen houses. All this sounds great and very profitable, which it was, however for four years all their money was going towards paying two law firms in North Carolina to fight the company who sold them the bad equipment, which led them to loosing their old packing company, SunPak Foods. After four years of this long fight, Ken and Michele felt they had more faith in their ability to flip houses then they did in the Justice System, so they settled for pennies and moved forward with their lives and flipping houses. Although these were tough times, the family only grew closer and stronger.
With all three kids growing up, with parents who built custom homes and flipped houses, it was only natural for them to become a part of this family’s house flipping team. At only 18 years old their daughter, Victoria, got her Real Estate License and was put in charge of buying and selling their investments. Their oldest son, Austin, got his degree from the University Of California Berkeley, has worked for Starbucks for several years, managing a number of Starbucks stores, as well as helping his parents keep their spending and money under control on their flips. Austin’s High School sweetheart and wife of two years, Melissa, got her degree from California College of Arts and Crafts. As an artist, Melissa contributes to their flips through adding special and creative touches. Their youngest son, Landon, joined their construction crew full time after graduating from high school in 2017.
As the family’s house flipping business grew, so did their recognition. Sacramento Magazine did a feature article on them, Good Day Sacramento did nine segments that were called “Flip It”, where they were followed on live TV as they took a 100 year old house down to its studs and rebuilt it. Mother, Michele, and Daughter, Victoria, did segments on live TV for Good Day Sacramento called “Staged To Sell" and also segments called “Decorate Like A Designer.” They have had numerous write ups on them in local newspapers, such as the Ledger Dispatch in Amador County. On top of all this, because of their Instagram account within the past year, they have been contacted by over thirty production companies all wanting to produce a TV show about them.
The love Ken and Michele shared for homes when they were teenagers is what brought them together, it’s what started their family, it’s what saved their family when they took a wrong turn in life and it’s what kept their family together. The road has been a long one but it’s exciting to imagine what opportunity is ahead for them!
“It’s not the destination, it’s the journey.”
Ralph Waldo Emerson
Who We Are
Ken Van Der Veen grew up in Orange County, California. He has a degree from the University of Southern California in Business with an emphasis on real estate. Ken has built a number of custom homes from the ground up for his family including a multi million dollar equestrian estate in Placerville California as well as a multi million dollar horse farm in Southern Pines, North Carolina and is getting ready to start building again for the family on their ranch. Ken over sees the whole construction side of all their flips. He always has great vision when it comes to creating more open floor plans or finding a way to reconfigure the homes floor plan to create more bathrooms or bedrooms in their flips. Ken is very much a “big picture person.” There are pros and cons with this. The pros are the flips turn out over the top and amazing! The cons are this often takes from his wife’s, Michele, design budget and often push them to list their flips for a higher price making their daughter/real estate agents job much harder. Although Ken considers his love for building his hobby, he also enjoys snow skiing, hiking, kayaking, and taking walks with the dogs on their family ranch.
Michele Van Der Veen grew up in Orange County, California. She has a degree from the Interior Designers Institute of Newport Beach California. Michele has designed a number of custom homes for her and her family. She designed their equestrian estate in Placerville, California, their horse farm in Southern Pines, North Carolina and now their home on their 60 acre horse ranch in Historic Gold Country California, which they are getting ready to start building. Michele is known as a “detail person.” With every project she is always focused on the design and finishing touches which give their homes a unique and custom feel to them. Michele has been featured in many well known magazines. She was picked by Sacramento Magazine as one of the six female entrepreneurs in the Sacramento Region to be featured in a full page article about her flips. Sacramento Magazine describes their remodels as “flips on steroids” and that “you’re transported to a scene out of a magazine photo shoot.” As well as doing Sacramento Magazine, she has been featured in Think Realty Magazine many times, as well as being featured, along with her family, in the international magazine, Cowboys & Indians. Michele was featured with her family over a dozen times on live TV for the segments on Good Day Sacramento for “Flip It” and “Staged To Sell. She also did segments for Good Day Sacramento called “Decorate Like A Designer. “ Michele has a competitive spirit, growing up with her father calling her “Sport” because of her athletic ability in tennis, golf and snow skiing. Although, her first love has always been for her horses.
Michele started competing with her horses at age 8 and trained for the 2012 Olympics in the equestrian sport of dressage before the loss of her and her husbands business. Because of her competitive spirit and love for dressage, she has her eyes set on competing again with her horses in the near future!
Victoria, the middle daughter, was born May 2nd, 1995. Victoria went to Amador High School, where she was voted by her whole high school as Homecoming Queen her senior year. As a newcomer to the school, being voted Homecoming Queen shows how out going and lovable her personality really is. After graduation Victoria, went straight to college to get her real estate license. At age 19, she became a real estate agent. She then was put in charge of buying and selling all her family's investments or “house flips.” Victoria is very hands on as well in her parents flips, helping her father out on the construction side as well as helping her mother in the designing, landscaping and staging of their flips. You could describe Victoria as a very “to the point person.” She doesn't waist anytime, says it how it is and is very driven. All good qualities to have in a real estate agent. Victoria has been featured with her family on live TV on Good Day Sacramento over a dozen times. She did segments on Good Day called “Flip It” and “Staged To Sell.” Victoria has cut in a pad on her parents 60 acre ranch and is living in her fifth wheel on the ranch while she prepares to build her house there. Taking after her parents, Victoria has designed the house she plans to build herself. Victoria has a competitive spirit like her mother. She grew up riding her pony, playing volleyball, and golf. She is also has a passion for paddle boarding, kayaking, cooking, traveling, playing the piano, weight lifting and is currently learning to speak Dutch. Victoria recently married Brett Wade on the ranch on February 8th, 2020.
Austin, the oldest son, graduated from Amador High School in 2012 and went straight into college. Describing himself as an “anomaly”, Austin is truly one of a kind. Besides working on his families flips when he was younger, he also took a job with Starbucks at 17 years old. By the time he was 23 years old, he was promoted to manager of his own Starbucks store. Setting bigger goals for his future, he has set his eyes on being Governor of the State of California. Austin graduated from the University of California Berkeley with a double major in Psychology and Rhetoric and a minor in English and creative writing. When asked by a student at Berkeley why he was not a political science student with his goals of being Governor, his response was “you have to first understand the people in order to help the people.” Austin very much has a way with words, which the family often joke that you need a dictionary in order to understand the words he uses. Austin can also be seen as a “critical thinker.” He will analyze everything about you and around you while speaking to him. He is very organized and disciplined so working on keeping the family in order with finances is the perfect job for him. He has a very controlled way of looking at things while his father can thrive in environments which are chaotic. For now, Austin has smaller goals to achieve such as building a smaller “loft style home” on the family ranch. Austin and his wife, Melissa, have expressed interest in a few other businesses they’d like to start up here in Historic Gold Country. Austin has played golf since he was 6 years old and enjoys camping, kayaking and hiking with his wife.
Melissa is Austin’s high school sweetheart. Right after graduating Amador High School, Melissa went straight to college with Austin. She is seen by all who know her as a “creative person.” She is a graduate of California College of Arts and Crafts in Oakland, California. She has done illustrating on children’s books and is now writing her own children’s book, which Austin is helping her with. Melissa creates at least one piece of art in each of the flips to help bring even more of a custom feel to the homes. Such as doing the custom art work on a chalk board in the laundry room to illustrating and designing custom address plaques. No matter what the project, buyers always love these little custom touches. Melissa was born and raised in Historic Gold Country and is a true country girl at heart. She will describe things that will make you see the country in a whole different way. She is a horse girl who loves anything that has to do with being outside and in the country. She is outgoing, friendly, funny and will talk anyone’s ear off even if she just met you. She loves to be everyone’s friend.
Landon, the youngest of the family, graduated from Amador High School in 2017. Landon jumped right into working with the family on their flips. Landon is known as the “work horse” of the family. Although he often gets picked on for working slower and taking longer then the rest, he is dependable and will work from sunrise to sunset if asked to. Landon will be building his house first on the family ranch. Landon has plans to plant a vineyard on the ranch and run a few head of cattle as well. A big part of Historic Gold Country is vineyards and wine tasting rooms, which was a result of Italians emigrating here and bringing with them grape vines during the 1849 Gold Rush. Landon plans to have a side business and carry on this tradition in Historic Gold Country. Landon is a very “outdoors” type of person as well. He competed in racing his dirt bike until a bad accident in a race when he broke his leg. Although, not that much safer a sport, he has set his eyes on his mother’s horses now and is training under his mother’s guidance. Landon has been invited often to help ranchers move cattle to and from the high country by horseback. His mother is working to prepare him for such a ride.