Ever since Unsellable Houses premiered on HGTV in January 2020, fans have watched twin sisters and real estate agents Lyndsay Lamb and Leslie Davis work their magic to fix up and sell homes across the Pacific Northwest. The series is currently airing new episodes on Sundays and has already been renewed for a fifth season. If you’ve never tuned in, you’re about to develop a new home reno show obsession—the sisters, who are each married to their high school sweetheart, are hilarious. If you’re a longtime fan, allow us to reintroduce you to the duo. We spoke with the pair to learn more about who they are and how they landed their HGTV show. We also got the inside scoop on their first-ever business venture gone wrong, their dream home reno idea (hint: It involves Taylor Swift!), and the worst features they’ve ever seen in a home so far.
House Beautiful: How did you each get into real estate?
Lyndsay: I started in real estate about 15 years ago. My background is in marketing, and that’s what I went to school for. I worked for a franchise org and loved being in marketing. I thought it was super fun, and I worked with franchises all across the country. But as I was doing it, I just felt like I was working with the same people every day. After a couple of years, I just wanted to get more variety and work with different people. Then I thought of real estate. I’ve always, always loved homes, design, and everything about just the history of different styles of homes. I thought getting into real estate would be very similar to what I was doing in marketing—taking homes and making them stand out from other homes that are on the market. So it was a really easy transition for me.
I got in during a really bad market. It was the downturn of ’06, ’07, ’08, and I thought, Heck, if I can make it now, I’ll make it when it starts to get better. And that’s exactly what I did. Then about four years into it, my son had some health issues. My sister, Leslie, jumped in and got her license and said, Okay, why don’t you take a little bit of a break and I will work your business for a while so you can take care of your son, Miles? She started working for the business, Lamb & Co. When I was ready to come back, she just loved it and continued to work the business. Ever since it’s been the two of us.
HB: Leslie, what were you doing before getting into real estate?
Leslie: Before real estate, I was in franchise sales. I would travel around and help individuals. I worked for a company called Dream Dinners. It’s a meal assembly company, and I would help individuals who purchase a franchise open up their store. So I would do everything from selling the franchise to the first year of development of the franchise.
HB: How did you land the HGTV show?
Lyndsay: It’s a funny story. So we were just doing what we do, being silly and trying to have a lot of fun with our clients every day. When we would sell them a home or help them purchase a home, we would throw up GoPros in our car, like three of ’em at a time, and we would do car karaoke with them. We would put on a song, the same song for every client that got in the car. It’d be all ages from our grandparents’ age to first-time home buyers in their 20s. We would do the same song for about a month straight. Then at the end of the month, we would cut all the videos together and make a really fun montage of all of our clients singing that song with us driving around looking at real estate. We would just call it, we’d say something like Buying and selling a home doesn’t have to always be stressful. You can also have a fun time when working with us. We’d throw those videos up on YouTube, and this was 12 years ago. It was probably about, at this point, seven years ago, that we got a phone call from our production company in Colorado. They said, Hey, we saw your video on YouTube. You guys look hysterical. We’d love to come out and follow you around for a little while and see what you do.
When they came out to the Pacific Northwest to follow us around, we happened to be in one of our V dubs at the time, our Volkswagen. They were like, Wow, this is so cool. And they ended up making that a character of the show as well. It takes a couple of years, or at least 18 months, two years or so, to get a show up off the ground just going through ideas and development and all of that. We took a couple of years. But once we got it up off the ground, we were just kind of rolling at that point. So it’s always kind of funny because other talent we meet, maybe they had applied for something or were looking for something. And we would say we were not looking. Our end goal isn’t to be on Dancing with the Stars. We just thought it was a great opportunity, and we’re having a blast doing it. It’s been so much fun working with the network, so we’ll just keep moving forward as long as we’re having a good time working together.
HB: Do you remember what the first song you did car karaoke with was?
Lyndsay: I think it was right when Taylor Swift’s “Shake It Off” song came out.
HB: Is there anything viewers might not know about you that might surprise them?
Leslie: I would say, on that note, we are huge Taylor Swift fans. I mean, if we could have our dream, we would do an entire Taylor Swift house. If the network could buy a property and give us tons of money, and we would just do an entire house based on all of the eras of Taylor. But other than being obsessed with Taylor Swift, we always knew that we were going to work together. We were just very close best friends since the day we were born. So even though we didn’t work together for the first 15 years of our careers, we knew that we would work together.
Lyndsay: When we were kids, we had a business idea planned out and it was L&L’s Pizza. We were going to have a pizza place where you could come and get pizza and play arcade games. So that was our first idea for a business when we were probably 8 years old.
Leslie: Oh, here’s something we’ve never told anybody during an interview: We once started a makeup business. We were about 19, and we bought a bunch of makeup from a Bartell drugstore that was going out of business. And so we thought, Oh, we’re going to be the smartest entrepreneurs when this makeup line goes out of business because the drugstore went out of business. We will sell it all at double what we bought it for. It is going to be so brilliant, and our husbands are going to think we’re so smart. So our husbands both agreed to let us each invest 200, 500 bucks. I can’t remember. Long story short, obviously, that makeup line was carried at a billion other stores. We tried to put it on our sad little marketplace on MySpace. People were like, Excuse me, I can get this at the store for a dollar. So then we quickly retracted our online marketing genius ideas, and we sold it at a garage sale. One day Lyndsay left me alone at the garage sale. She came back, and she’s like, Oh my God, you sold all of the makeup. She was so excited. I ended up getting completely taken advantage of. I think I sold, to a little old lady, $40 worth of makeup for about $2.
Lyndsay: That’s the first business venture, truthfully. Luckily, it’s all gotten better since then.
HB: So on your show, how exactly does the profit work?
Leslie: So we came up with this concept way before we started doing it on the television show. We did this because we really believed that it was a great way for us to set ourselves apart in a very competitive real estate market. And that is, our clients could get more value, a higher sales price out of their home, if their home was presented in the best sellable fashion, sellable life. So it’s not that these homes are necessarily unsellable, because everything is sellable at the right price. It’s that these homes were not selling for top dollar.
So what we do, and what we’ve done for years, is we go in and help the homeowners who cannot afford to put in the roof that they need or the exterior paint that they’ve been needing. On the show, obviously, it’s big scales like kitchen and bathroom remodels. You have individuals who may have lived in their homes for 60 years and never gotten rid of one book or one personal belonging. So the houses are overfilled, and everything’s original. So that’s all of our own money that we invest. Then at escrow, we get all of the money that we’ve invested back. So we don’t put interest on it. We don’t put any fees associated with it. We just look at it like this: If your home will sell for more money if it has XYZ done to it, then we have the funds to help you do that. So that’s how the whole concept started.
Well, as we did it, we noticed that, in fact, it was true. These homes were selling for more money than what the actual potential was. So instead of selling at $550,000 where it was of value at first, if we painted the exterior and did the kitchen, they were selling to $650,000–what all the neighbors were selling at. And our investment was $60,000 or $70,000. So it was worth us investing the money, and they were still making additional profits.
As we did this concept, we realized if we’re helping them gain this equity based on our investments, then we should be able to get a piece of that additional profit. So what we do is we invest our own money. Once the home sells, they get all the money of their own up until the point of what the house would have sold for until we got involved. So if the home would’ve sold at $550K, they’d get all of that money. Anything above that price, we split it 50-50. Anything that we were able to gain you more money, that’s where we split the profit.
HB: So you two split 50 percent and the homeowners get the other 50 percent?
Leslie: Yes, and it’s only on the money that we gained them, not on the overall sale of the home.
HB: What’s the worst feature you’ve seen in a home so far?
Leslie: I saw a lady, last year, turn an in-ground pool into an outdoor terrarium. She put a plastic dome over the top. You walk downstairs into the bowl of the pool, and then she filled it with dirt and rocks and plants and wanted to sell her home like that. I was like, There’s no way anybody else is going to want your outdoor terrarium. And she thought it was an added value, and it was pretty stinking bizarre.
Lyndsay: I have seen carpet on all walls including the ceiling. We actually had a lady carpet her ceiling just last week. I said, Why? And she goes, Oh, because it was showing the old beam from when it was built (because it was in a basement), and I just thought that this would be more aesthetically pleasing. It was a rainbow carpet, and she thought somebody could use it as a kids’ room.
HB: Have you noticed any common features that need to be changed for homes to sell?
Lyndsay: Whenever we walk into an ’80s home, the first thing we notice walking through the front door is that it’s very original. We can almost guarantee there’s carpet in the bathroom up to the toilet. That’s very, very common. So that has always has to change. I would say 90 percent of the time, when we lift homes, we end up painting the interior. Even in my own home, I have three kids. I can keep my house as primsy and modern as possible, but paint wears pretty quickly thanks to fingerprints, soccer balls, shoes, animals, and everything else. So a fresh coat of paint really makes a difference when selling. Most often, we are painting the inside of properties.
HB: Do you have any other tips for getting a home ready to sell?
Lyndsay: I would say the things that go the furthest in improving a property are light fixtures, hardware, paint, and then if you can afford it, flooring. Those things will transform a home without having to move walls, remodel spaces, et cetera. Paint, hardware, lighting, and flooring can make a ’90s, outdated style look trendy.
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