The Ugliest House of the Year
Bernardo Mazzucco is moving ahead by giving back to the community.
Bernardo Mazzucco won the title of “The Ugliest House of the Year” 2021 in a competition sponsored by HomeVestors, the original “We Buy Ugly Houses” company. After a fiercely competitive national vote, Mazzucco won the highly sought-after prize, beating out nearly 10,000 homes.
While this award would insult most people, Mazzucco is overjoyed. Perhaps the $20,000 check presented on his behalf from HomeVestors of America, Inc. to Habitat for Humanity Greater Orlando & Osceola County relieved some of the sting.
“For me, the competition was just about having the opportunity to give something back to the community and other people,” says Mazzucco. “I feel that it’s my job to help people move forward in their lives.”
Bernardo Mazzucco is an Orlando real estate investor born in Venezuela who has lived in the Central Florida area since 2018. “I decided that Florida probably would be the best place for my family, and I can tell you this is the best decision I’ve ever made. I’m so proud to be in and live in the state of Florida. It’s a good place for my family, and the real estate business is strong.”
It’s been a challenging road for Mazzucco, who left Venezuela with nothing but the money in his pocket. “The political and economic situation in my country is complicated right now,” he explains. “I was doing very well as a small business owner but had to leave everything behind but my liquid savings. I came to this country because I was looking for a better future for my kids. We left everything and started from scratch.”
The house that won the competition is a single-story ranch built in 1984 and was Mazzucco’s first makeover as a new franchisee. When he purchased it, it had enough junk to fill five dumpsters inside and out, coupled with an overwhelming smell that forced Mazzucco and his crews to rotate to help them endure it.
Like something featured in a hoarder’s reality show, multiple animals ranging from those with four to six and eight legs had infested the house, which had not been cleaned of hair, waste, or mold in over three years despite it still being occupied.
An overgrown landscape concealed creepy discoveries like buried dolls in the backyard. Mazzucco and his team painstakingly cleared the property of all ugliness and transformed it into a sparkling home that occupants and neighbors will love for years to come.
Mazzucco’s favorite part of any house renovation is the landscaping, which this house required due to out-of-control vegetation. He also completely redid the bathrooms, installed new appliances, placed flooring throughout the house after a deep disinfecting and cleaning treatment, put in new attractive and efficient lighting and sprinkler systems, painted both inside and out, and installed new air conditioning ducts.
“This year, I did my best to do small things in a great way,” said Mazzucco. “I’m honored that they have recognized this house we brought back to a beautiful and functional use as ‘The Ugliest House of the Year.’ As a strong national brand, HomeVestors helped reduce my learning curve in an insanely competitive real estate market and helped me succeed with this house, my first project.”
Mazzucco admits he knew little of what was to lie ahead for him when he entered the competition. “It was stressful at the beginning because I didn’t realize the scope of the contest. I competed against big leaguers and people in the system for 15 or more years. The people who had time in the system knew it was a great opportunity to make good donations for people. They are amazing people.”
While the first steps of the process were intimidating, Mazzucco persevered. “This was my first project, my first and only house that year. It was a challenging first year of business. I was putting all my money there, so realizing that all these people were competing and trying to do their best, I was thinking, ‘I got into a shark tank!’” Mazzucco says with a grin.
“We’re proud of Bernardo and what he’s accomplished in such a short time. Many people may not have seen the actual hard work that the ‘We Buy Ugly Houses’ people do on the houses we buy, dealing with everything from rodent infestations and natural disasters to neglect and vandalism,” said David Hicks, CEO of HomeVestors. “The Ugliest House of the Year represents the best of the thousands of houses that were hopeless by other buyers, but not by HomeVestors franchisees, who see potential and know-how to make it a reality. They don’t just buy these houses, but they also labor to make these properties whole again.”
Mazzucco might laugh about it today, but the ferocity of the competition took him by surprise. “I was with a guy from Boston, a mentor from other franchisees, and he was working with other people who were in the contest final with me. He told me, ‘I have to take your picture because I have to show this guy who you are because he hates you!’ He was laughing, so it was funny but overwhelming at the same time.”
Mazzucco hopes he is setting an example for his children by winning the competition. “I was so proud to bring that award to my house, especially for my eldest kid. I’m trying to teach him that the hard work paid off. It was a really sweet moment when I brought the award home. For other people, it was probably just another award. For me, it was a life-changer.”
Mazzucco is toying with the idea of entering the contest next year. For now, he is thrilled with the title of “The Ugliest House of the Year,” happy to help Habitat for Humanity, and grateful to HomeVestors.
“America is a pleasant place for people who want to work hard, move forward, and dream big. I cannot describe how grateful I am to this country and the state of Florida. It’s unbelievable for me. It’s like a dream.”