The couple dated for more than a year, split about four years ago and soon started flipping homes together in upscale Carmel, Ind. — an Indianapolis suburb termed the “Beverly Hills of the Midwest.”
It’s a familiar trope. The pair follow in the tradition of exes Tarek and Christina El Moussa (now the re-married Christina Anstead), who soldiered on to film the eighth season of HGTV’s popular “Flip or Flop,” which premiered Aug. 1.
But wait, there’s more: Another pair of exes, Page Turner and DeRon Jenkins, star in HGTV’s “Flip or Flop Nashville.” That show’s second season launched in January.
Turns out that relationship glue, even when it becomes unstuck, can cement renovation success. LeSure is a numbers whiz who oversees construction and operations, and Klemm is a client-savvy Realtor and designer.
The happily uncoupled pair banter, bicker and flirt on the show — but for this interview, we stuck to business.
Carmel, Ind., is routinely named one of the best places to live in America. Fill us in.
Nina: The mayor has done a great job — expanded downtown with businesses and restaurants. You can walk everywhere and actually take the Monon (an extensive multi-use trail system) from Carmel all the way to downtown Indy. People come to Carmel and say, “Wow! This is so beautiful; it’s done so well.”
What’s the housing stock like?
Nina: There’s a mixture of older homes, some built in the early 1900s. A few developers built neighborhoods with new larger homes, more of a modern farmhouse type. In general, it takes less than 30 days to get a house sold, especially in peak season — and there are multiple offers. We have a ton of buyers but there are not enough houses on the market. The sales prices are about $100,000 more in Carmel than the surrounding areas.
You tout yourself as fast flippers, turning around properties in six to 12 weeks. How do you keep from sacrificing quality?
Michael: We have reliable people that do incredible work. I’m the quarterback in terms of what needs to be done — obviously there’s just a puzzle in terms of how it all fits together, and I basically have to do it in the right sequence. There’s been a lot of trial and error to get to the point where we’re at right now.
Nina, you’re known for gold accents. How do you incorporate bling without it becoming too brassy?
Nina: Gold to me is luxury. It’s beautiful, eye-catching — on light fixtures, kitchen hardware, cabinet hardware. It’s not a bright gold that I’ve used, more of a brushed gold so it’s a little easier on the eye. I usually pair my golds with a lighter color like white or a dove gray, and that makes for a classy modern look. In a historic home it brings back the antique-ish vibe, yet it’s modern.
We imagine gold accents and accessories run counter to Midwestern sensibilities. But maybe we’re wrong.
Nina: In the Midwest, gold hardware is not very popular. I couldn’t find a gold fixture anywhere in Indiana — not one store had them. When I went back east a little bit ago, I saw a lot more gold out there than I did here. But it’s just starting to come back around, and I like to be a trendsetter.
Buying a home without first seeing the inside is quite a gamble. You recently rolled those dice with an 1870 property.
Michael: It was a foreclosure. Before the lender put it out on the open market creating a bidding war, we had to pull the trigger on it. The outside was in relatively good condition. I took the numbers, in terms of what we were buying a house for ($190,000), and made an educated guess on the condition. I then based that on what I thought the worst scenario would be on inside repairs, to see if we would make money, and we did. We sold it for $425,000.
Nina: I was absolutely a nervous wreck, completely freaked out. I’m still shocked — but it worked out well.