How Tarek El Moussa’s House Flipping “Addiction” Started an Empire

updated May 3, 2019
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(Image credit: HGTV)

Before he was co-star of the HGTV dynamo Flip or Flop, Tarek El Moussa was just a 20-year-old kid trying to sell real estate. But it was when the economy plummeted in 2008 that Tarek found his real niche: flipping houses.

“The market had obviously become very depressed and I started seeing all these different deals coming across the table, and at the time I wasn’t a house flipper so I wasn’t buying those properties, but I saw that the [potential] profit was huge,” El Moussa told Business Insider.

Along with a business partner, El Moussa scrapped together $115,000 for a home in Santa Ana, CA, and put in $20,000 worth of renovations and closing costs. The property sold for $169,000, scoring El Moussa and his partner a profit of $34,000… and kicking off Tarek’s “addiction” to house flipping.

(Image credit: HGTV)

He put together a short video and pitched a TV show, and didn’t hear from HGTV for an entire year. But soon they bit, and Tarek filmed a pilot episode with his then-wife Christina serving as designer for the properties. Though the network seemed unsure of the show’s potential in the beginning, viewers were obsessed, sending the show into primetime after just a few weeks. As of 2016, the show attracted a total of 17 million viewers, according to the network. Flip or Flop was a bonafide ratings bonanza for HGTV, second only to Chip and Joanna Gaines’s powerhouse renovation show Fixer Upper.

“We built a good brand, the show turned out really, really well — it’s fun, fast-paced, exciting,” El Moussa told BI.

Though Tarek and Christina have weathered some struggles and even decided to end their marriage, the duo still seems to dead-set on coming together to make home renovation ratings gold: it returns this December with all new episodes.