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Local couple star in HGTV reality show on flipping houses

Time:2016-11-15 09:46Shoes websites Click:

business house tarek christina construction

Tarek and Christina El Moussa felt the sting of the housing bubble's burst like Realtors across the country.

With their business dried up, they traded in their $6,000-a-month mortgage for $700-per-month apartment rent (with a roommate), swapped luxury cars for modest ones and shared Subway sandwiches – all while expecting the birth of their first child.

The El Moussas have bounced back – they own a Yorba Linda house – and now the family business is flipping homes, a career move that has landed them a new reality series, "Flip or Flop," which will premiere April 16 on HGTV.

"They liked the fact that we were poor and were trying to make something of ourselves," said Christina El Moussa, 29.

A couple of years ago, the couple, with business partner Pete De Best, bought their first investment house in Santa Ana for $115,000. The El Moussas sold the property and split the $34,000 in profits with De Best – and the trio kept going.

Tarek El Moussa has hired three employees and is expanding into Nevada and Arizona.

On a lark, Tarek El Moussa, 31, sent in a demo tape he made with a borrowed camera to "Flip or Flop" and had a friend edit it. Before he knew it, he was signing a contract with Pie Town Productions for the new show. The couple would buy, fix up and flip 13 houses in 13 episodes.

Although the El Moussas were paid $10,000 per episode, the money they used to buy the houses was from their past investments, Christina El Moussa said.

Today, Tarek El Moussa spends most of his time hunting down new houses and showing the ones he has had fixed up to potential buyers, and Christina El Moussa lists houses for friends and family. Although Tarek El Moussa does some demolition in the show, the couple mostly relies on the skills of their contractor, Israel Battres, and his crew to rehabilitate the houses.

"I'll buy any house, any condition (and) any location as long as I can get it at the right price," Tarek El Moussa said.

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When he started flipping, Tarek El Moussa would often drive around the Inland Empire scouting houses between 10 p.m. and 3 a.m. after addresses were announced the night before an auction. In these sales, there are often tenants who have to be evicted.

At one house they bought in Anaheim Hills, a mother and son were getting evicted by the police – and poured concrete in toilets, smashed out all the windows and took a hammer to the wood floors before they left, Christina El Moussa said. The damage: $30,000. Insurance covered it.

Homeless people have slept on a property, used needles have been found, knives were stuck into walls.

When it came time to make the show, there was a lot of work the El Moussas didn't expect.

Sound checks, coordinating construction with shooting schedules, and getting their 2-year-old daughter, Taylor, to sit still.

"It's definitely a team effort because so many people are working on it," El Moussa said.

Battres, the couple's contractor, appeared on five of the 13 episodes that crews shot. He said balancing the show's needs and doing the construction efficiently got tricky.

"It's a lot of stop and go," he said. "We're ready to rock 'n' roll, and they're like, 'Can you not hammer loudly,' or, 'Can you do some nice demolition.' "

Safety was also a big concern, too.

"When you have TVs and cameras and (microphones), and you have other people around, safety is a huge concern so we have to work around those challenges," Battres said.

A second season is not locked down yet. The network will probably want to see what the show's ratings are first, Tarek El Moussa said.

Regardless, he's learned a lot about himself, construction work and show business.

And he believes in himself again.

"I lost all of that in 2006 and 2007," he said.

Contact the writer: 714-704-3704 or dlanghorne@ocregister.com


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