One of HGTV’s latest hit shows is Flip or Flop, which features spouses Tarek El Moussa and Christina El Moussa as they flip houses in Southern California.
“From paying cash, sight unseen, for a property at auction, through the hapless remodeling process, to the frantic sale, this young couple is putting everything they have into this venture,” HGTV says of the show.
They run into occasional problems and have been stuck with a house or two, but manage impressive renovations in a month or so and sell the properties for significant profits in the majority of episodes… So, is it really that simple?
To answer that, we need to consider Tarek and Christina’s story: Just as the intro says, Tarek was a successful real estate agent who lost most of his savings when the house market crashed in 2008. Around that time, an older friend approached him about teaming up to flip a property.
“So we bought and flipped our first place, a condo, and after all costs I made a net profit of $13,000.00,” Tarek said on a California forum last year. “My partner was happy so he said let’s do it again.”
Tarek said he flipped a total of three properties in 2008 and four in 2009. But, as his investing partner’s faith in him grew, Tarek was able to take on more and more projects — for a total 80 flips in 2014. What the show doesn’t really make clear is that he’s still splitting his profits with an investor.
“All the profits you see on show are real but I split that with my partner,” said Tarek, who describes himself as a normal guy that lives in Yorba Linda. “They don’t show that on the show because its confusing for the audience to understand.”
Christina told The O.C. Register in 2013 they are paid an additional $10,000 per episode, but don’t use that money for investments in order to keep their business structure realistic.
Tarek also said the real estate auctions and problems he encounters during the renovations are real — and often to his disadvantage.
“I must have cashiers checks to buy cash,” he said of the auctions. “I lost a 20k check once that was a nightmare. The good thing is my construction team is good and honest… It takes a good team to be successful. It took years to put my teams together.”
Tarek gets help from Christina, a licensed realtor. They recently finished filming the third season of Flip or Flop. It is due to premiere on HGTV in April 2015.