When Ken and Anita Corsini were contacted by a casting director from Flip or Flop‘s production company to film a sizzle reel, they didn’t take it too seriously.
“We just had fun with it,” says Anita, “because I honestly didn’t think it would land us anywhere.”
It seems she was wrong: The company ordered a pilot from the Atlanta couple called Flipping the South. The show was picked up for a full season, and halfway through filming, after the network ordered five Flip or Flop spin-offs, was absorbed into the franchise. Now, on the heels of Flip or Flop Vegas‘ April 6 premiere, Atlanta is the third installment in the HGTV juggernaut, with Chicago, Fort Worth, Nashville still to come.
So how did the series find its newest stars in the Corsinis? The couple speculates that their booming business Red Barn Homes, which they say has flipped more than 600 houses in 12 years around Atlanta, drew the directors to them.
“They saw that we had a business that we were doing a high volume of houses,” says Ken, adding that Atlanta’s “hot” real estate market also compelled the franchise to set a spin-off there. “Atlanta has a lot to offer. I think the houses that we flip are just really interesting and unique. There’s old housing stock, there’s new housing stock. But all together it just makes for a dynamic show.”
Anita, who joined Ken’s company to handle the market and design components of the business after getting her real estate license in 2007, says the city is rich with historical architecture. “You’ve got a lot of in-town housing, that older construction that has a lot of character. And a lot of those homes, the neighborhoods are growing and changing and transitioning right now,” she explains.
Flip or Flop has been one of HGTV’s top performers for seven seasons since it was started in 2013 by Southern California couple Christina and Tarek El Moussa, who split in December. Ken and Anita are self-proclaimed fans of the original series, and say they have always watched with their “business eyes.”
“I always feel so bad when they find mold,” Anita says, with Ken adding, “Or the house doesn’t sell.”
“We can totally relate,” she explains. “Anything that comes up is like a punch to the gut.”
Despite being on the other side of the screen now, which Ken calls “surreal,” the couple says that filming has been, for the most part, business as usual.
“Our houses, the rehabs, we would have done regardless of whether we were being filmed or not,” Ken says. Anita: “So, we kind of get some real, organic findings and happenings that are always interesting when flipping houses. They did a really good job of capturing things that were actually happening in our business and in our houses.”
Although only 13 of the houses their company renovates will be shown this season, the couple is always trying to figure out how to find the flippable “gems.” “It really depends on the market,” Ken explains, calling it “the $20 billion question.” “Right now we’re in a market where Atlanta is a very strong real estate market, so it’s harder to find those houses.”
Even when the Corsinis find those gems, they still have to do a little dirty work before transforming the house into a beautiful new space. The first walkthrough of any potential flip is bound to bring surprises, which is why Anita says they are her favorite part of the show. The couple shared a few horror stories about the craziest walkthroughs that will be featured in Season 1, including one house with actual poop on the walls.
“The stench in this house was horrible,” says Anita. “I wish you could jump into my head and have experienced it with me because it was so disgusting. The carpets were stained, the doors were stained, the walls were stained. There was stuff everywhere. There was a live animal in the house. It was a bird. And there was excrement on the walls. That’s the nicest way I can say it.”
Ken didn’t want to reveal too much about the season, but promised, “The worst are all on the show. We saved some of the humdingers for the show because they were so bad we knew they would make good TV.”
Anita also describes a walkthrough straight out of a Wes Craven movie with “maybe five garage sales” worth of stuff, including mannequin heads and legs.
“Creepy,” Ken recalls before admitting that sometimes there are buried valuables in the junk former tenants leave behind, such as LIFE magazines with historic covers like John F. Kennedy’s assassination and the moon landing. “It’s kind of a cool treasure that we found in the middle of chaos.”
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Like other shows in the franchise, the Corsinis will be including family moments in the season, incorporating their three young children. They do worry, however, that the spotlight will end up being stolen by their dog and farm animals, including goats and pigs. “We keep adding animals,” says Ken.
“We don’t mean to, but they just keep coming,” jokes Anita. “I think our dog is going to steal the show. So, you do get a little bit of a glimpse into our personal lives there.”
Flip or Flop: Atlanta premieres on HGTV Thursday, July 20 at 9 p.m. ET.