In one conversation, Vanilla Ice energetically talks about remodeling, feng shui and reading real estate statistics, and he predicts when the economy will bounce back. Not quite what you expect from the guy who is mostly remembered for his pompadour and 1990 rap smash hit “Ice Ice Baby.” But then again this Vanilla Ice prefers to be called Rob – his name is Robert Van Winkle – and while music is still a huge part of his life, he’s making quite a name for himself in the real estate industry.
Today, he’s the star of “The Vanilla Ice Project” on the DIY Network, which follows his Palm Beach, Fla., house renovation (it was recently picked up for a second season) and his passion for real estate has pushed him to launch his own real estate website, VanillaIceRealEstate.com. He says he created to site to show others how to duplicate his success.
“I made tons of money I didn’t know what to do with when I was 16, so I bought houses,” he says. “I never used them, so I sold them and made millions. So I bought some more.”
With as much energy as former infomercial impresario Ron Popeil, Van Winkle’s website touts a music-video style of introduction, real estate guide, real estate rock star registration and a blog where the 44-year-old star discusses the housing market.
Van Winkle has tried his hand at the stock market but ended up losing money. He wasn’t impressed. “I’m listening to this guy tell me the ups and downs of the market, and all I have is a piece of paper in a filing cabinet,” he says. So he stuck with what was working and soon purchased commercial spaces and rental buildings. But Van Winkle is sympathetic to the changes in today’s economy and how it isn’t the same as when he was a kid. “The economy has changed, but you have to evolve too,” he says. “You can purchase short sales or foreclosures. It’s all about location, location, location.”
He even predicts that the current depressed economy will bounce back by the end of this year. “America needs goods and homes,” he says. “Tomorrow’s a mystery, yesterday’s history.”
As for his real estate recommendations, Van Winkle suggests finding locations that were hit the hardest economically and researching the area. “Buy lower than the appraised value,” he says. “If you have a home appraised at $1 million and you get it for $500,000, you can still buy it at the appraised value and make money.”
On his show he’s a hands-on guy, knocking down walls and getting his hands dirty. “I know what I’m doing, and I don’t want to let these guys have all the fun,” he says. “After, we look at it and think ‘wow look at how that home theater came out.'”
If there’s one thing he’s learned through all of his superstar experiences, it’s to make sure you have the right team around you. He credits the book “The Platinum Rule” by Tony Alessandra and Michael J. O’Connor for teaching him the concepts that show you how to judge character. “The book shows you that there are four types of people – thinkers, relaters, socializers and directors,” he says. “If you have a team of all four of those people, you’re going to be successful. You can’t have too many of any one of them.”
In addition to his foray into real estate, die-hard Ice fans will be happy to know that he’s still working on music and has a role in the upcoming Adam Sandler upcoming flick “I Hate You, Dad.”