Owners of a Columbia Heights real estate brokerage firm are the faces of a new HGTV pilot. "D.C. Flippers" will feature local couple Ati and Rob Williams -- owners of DC Home Buzz and development company Honeycomb -- going through the ups and downs of flipping homes across the District.
"We're taking some of the ugliest houses in our nation's capital and renovating them into dream homes," Ati Williams says in a promotional video.
Viewers can check out the couple's house flipping hacks on "D.C. Flippers," officially premiering Jan. 8, but the show will also air Thursday at noon.
The promo for the pilot shows the couple fixing up Rob's old bachelor pad in Petworth, which the duo was renting out. They touch on renovation costs and "stiff competition," and play up the married couple effect.
When Ati talks about one of their cheap renovation hacks and Rob asks how much he'll be paid for his labor, Ati tells him, "I pay you in kisses." The couple has flipped nine homes together, including one just four months into dating.
Ati, originally from Nairobi, Kenya, got into real estate at just 22 when she bought her first home straight out of college, according to a 2014 New York Times video. She made some improvements to her home, and sold the property at a profit six months later.
At the time, she was making $31,000 a year at a nonprofit, so making $30,000 on the property got her wheels spinning, and after a 2004 layoff, she started over as a real estate assistant.
She started DC Home Buzz in 2009. Now she offers DMV home buyers a full service firm with a flat-rate commission of $12,500. However, she and Rob only flip homes in D.C.
About a year ago, Ati said, she got a call from Taylor Kampia from Half Yard Productions, the Bethesda-based production company that worked on "Say Yes to the Dress" and "The Real Housewives of D.C." Ati had been contacted previously about show ideas involving DC Home Buzz, but hadn't given it much thought.
"We were very hesitant about doing a television show and putting our family in front of TV," Ati said. "Part of it was because we were afraid of being misrepresented or having to not be ourselves."
Ultimately, though, the couple decided to do the pilot because the production company was interested in marketing Rob and Ati's authentic selves, she said.
"D.C. Flippers" will have to stand out among a collection of other house-flipping shows on HGTV such as "Flip or Flop," "Fixer Upper" and "Property Brothers."
"I think the biggest difference is the setting," Ati said. "It's in an urban setting. The price points are certainly higher than most other places."
Right now, the show is just a pilot. It has not yet been green-lit for a series, said Lynne Davis Adeyemi, vice president of National Broadcast Media and Talent relations at HGTV.
The couple currently does just four flips a year, but would do 10 if the series is picked up. Filming would start in April.
"Obviously we would love for it to become a full-time show and would love for it to be successful, but if all that happens is that we air this pilot episode, that's fine," Rob said. "Our life will go on."