How Tarek El Moussa Went From Realtor To TV Star

If you've ever watched HGTV or considered flipping a house, then you're already familiar with real estate/reality TV titan Tarek El Moussa. El Moussa is known both on and off screen for his prowess when it comes to flipping houses. He's earned a legion of devoted fans for his ability to see a diamond in the rough property, buy it for a fraction of its worth, flip it, and sell it for an envy-inducing profit.

His career is impressive — but so is his personal life. El Moussa rose to fame thanks to his HGTV show, "Flip or Flop," which he starred in and executive produced with his now ex-wife Christina Haack. Reality TV is full of former couples who started out just fine then cracked under the pressure of the cameras and the press, but El Moussa and Haack decided to continue their show for another three seasons after calling it quits. As you can imagine, the ensuing drama ensured that they had one of the most-watched shows on HGTV and were each able to land their own spin-offs within no time.

Below, we trace El Moussa's incredible career from his early days as a realtor to his new show with his new wife. Don't worry — we get into his crazy personal life too.

El Moussa and Haack were friends first

When Tarek El Moussa met Christina Haack in 2005, he had no idea what was in store for him. At the time, Haack was 22, and El Moussa was 24. They were working in the same realty office in California and were determined to keep things professional, per Good Housekeeping. Besides, Haack had just broken up with a boyfriend at the time, and El Moussa was seeing someone. There was no denying that a spark was there, though. When El Moussa split with his girlfriend a little over a year later, they finally went on their first date. "The day Tarek and I officially started dating, which was October 9, 2006, we moved in together," Haack joked.

From there, El Moussa and Haack were on top of the world. They got married, had a baby, and lived comfortably in El Moussa's house. But that's when the bubble popped. According to, El Moussa and Haack had to seriously tighten their purse strings after the housing market collapsed in 2008. The couple unloaded their palatial home, which came with a monthly $6,000 mortgage, and ended up splitting a $1,700-a-month rented apartment with a roommate. You know how that story ends, though: El Moussa and Haack began flipping houses, got in touch with HGTV, and have been back in the lap of luxury ever since.

El Moussa never planned to be on TV

These days, Tarek El Moussa may be synonymous with HGTV, but that was not his original plan. In fact, the reality star ended up on TV almost by accident. El Moussa has always loved real estate, so after graduating from high school, he earned a license in 2002 and immediately got into selling, per Redbook. Fast forward a few years to 2008, when the housing bubble popped. El Moussa and Haack saw an opportunity to make some quick cash flipping homes. Their success attracted HGTV, which offered them a show, "Flip or Flop," that premiered in 2009 after El Moussa sent in a demo tape as a joke. "They liked the fact that we were poor and were trying to make something of ourselves," Haack told the Orange County Register.

By the time they landed on TV, El Moussa and Haack were pros at flipping homes, but television came with some added complications. "It's definitely a team effort because so many people are working on it," El Moussa told the Register. His contractor, Israel Battres, added, "It's a lot of stop and go. We're ready to rock 'n' roll, and they're like, 'Can you not hammer loudly,' or, 'Can you do some nice demolition.'" It may not have come naturally to him at first, but El Moussa quickly got the hang of things and continued to star in "Flip or Flop" for years to come.

A health scare turned El Moussa's life around

A frightening medical diagnosis almost completely derailed Tarek El Moussa's career. The reality star and realtor was diagnosed with thyroid cancer in 2013. Incredibly, El Moussa didn't originally seek any kind of medical treatment, as he wasn't aware that anything was wrong. Instead, he was alerted to the potentially life-threatening problem when a nurse who happened to be watching "Flip or Flop" noticed a bulge on the star's neck, according to Today. The concerned fan then got in touch with producers, hoping they would pass the warning along to El Moussa.

El Moussa visited the doctor and was diagnosed with thyroid cancer — but that's not where his journey ended. While undergoing treatment and examining his medical records, El Moussa noticed irregularities related to his prostate. After consulting with professionals, he was simultaneously diagnosed with testicular cancer. He underwent extensive radiation treatment and eventually made a full recovery from both ailments.

The silver lining of all this is that El Moussa is taking his second chance very seriously. "I've never taken so many vitamins, I've never gotten so much exercise. So I'm just taking care of my health," he told People, adding that wife Heather Rae Young leads the charge when making healthy decisions. "Heather has made a lot of changes in my life. She feeds me, cooks for me, she tells me what to eat, she makes sure I'm taking my vitamins. She's all over it," he said.

El Moussa had to work with his ex

A lot of things flopped during the 10-season run of "Flip or Flop," but the biggest loss of all had to be Tarek El Moussa's marriage to co-host Christina Haack. Haack and El Moussa met in 2005, got married, and started flipping houses for a profit. Before long, HGTV was knocking on their door, and they had a hit show on their hands. But somewhere along the line, things took a wrong turn. By Season 7, they were ready to call the romance quits. "Like many couples, we have had challenges in our marriage," the couple said in a joint statement, adding that they had decided to separate and focus on amicably raising their kids, per People.

To the shock of many, El Moussa and Haack decided to continue working together on "Flip or Flop" despite the end of their marriage. Part of that may have been because their contracts were in play for a few more seasons. But also, as the parents of two kids, they'd be seeing plenty of each other with or without work, so why not keep cashing those checks? Either way, El Moussa and Haack went public in 2018 with the sad news. "Flipping houses put us in the spotlight, and while it was tough before, now the pressure is really on," El Moussa said in a press release regarding the first season they did post-split, per Country Living. "We're still trying to figure out how all of this is going to work."

The end of Flip or Flop was the end of an era

To the surprise of absolutely no one, Tarek El Moussa and now ex-wife Christina Haack decided to end "Flip or Flop" a few years after their divorce. The fact that they hung on that long was shocking, considering that by the time the show ended, Haack had already been married and divorced from another man and El Moussa had recently wed Heather Rae Young. 

"I feel like it's not really fair to you or myself to continue house flipping with you," Haack told El Moussa in the series finale, according to E! "I can't be at these houses for you like I should. It's been an amazing run." El Moussa seemed on board with the idea: after all, the former couple were both busy with projects of their own, so it seemed like a natural time to step away from something they'd started together more than a decade earlier.

According to insiders, though, the decision to pull the plug on "Flip or Flop" had as much to do with their personal lives as it did with their overpacked schedules or the fact that their contracts were ending. "They mutually agreed they didn't want to go forth with another season," a source told Us Weekly, adding that the divorce soured the atmosphere on set. "Once the cameras went away, you noticed a different vibe," the insider explained. "It's a relief for the both of them that they don't have to work together on set again."

El Moussa moves fast

Tarek El Moussa and Christina Haack tried to make their divorce look amicable on screen, but as we now know, things were a lot more complicated behind the scenes. Between on-set drama and airtight contracts, it seemed like Haack and El Moussa didn't have time for new romances. Yet, despite being contractually bound to appear on "Flip or Flop" with his ex-wife, El Moussa found love once again with Heather Rae Young. While it may seem like co-parenting and working with an ex would prevent or slow down any other relationships, El Moussa and Young reportedly moved in together after only four dates, per House Beautiful.

"We are just really, really happy," Young told Us Weekly at the time. "He has all the qualities that I would want in someone." Young — who stars in "Selling Sunset" — even began making appearances in El Moussa's solo show, "Flipping 101," while El Moussa eventually appeared on "Selling Sunset."

Things didn't go smoothly the first time he tried to work with a spouse, but El Moussa seemingly isn't afraid to take that chance with Young. In 2022 HGTV announced that a new show, "Flipping El Moussa," was in production. "We are so excited to bring viewers into our world to see the ins and outs of our day-to-day lives," the couple said in a statement. "Fans can watch us as we go from making breakfast for the kids in the morning to making business deals by the afternoon."

More drama in El Moussa's personal life

Tune into any episode of "Flip or Flop" and you're guaranteed some low-stakes drama about whether or not a construction project will be completed on time. You probably won't see anything too scandalous about the warring exes at the show's helm. On camera, it seemed like Tarek El Moussa and Christina Haack were able to amicably separate and keep things professional. Behind the scenes, however, that couldn't have been further from the truth. Fans were horrified when reports of El Moussa berating his ex-wife on set were leaked to the press in 2021.

An insider claiming to be close to the house-flipping duo told TMZ that El Moussa was often angry at Haack on set, called her a "washed up loser," and compared her to his then-fiance and now wife, Heather Rae Young. "Look at me, look at me, look at me. It's called winning," he reportedly said. "The world knows you're crazy!"

That wasn't the first time El Moussa and Haack's personal life had made headlines, though. Photographers caught the exes, along with Young, having what looked like a very heated conversation at their daughter's soccer game in May 2022. "A personal matter was discussed and has since been resolved. We are focused on co-parenting as a team moving forward," the former couple told Us Weekly through a rep, though they refused to say what exactly had transpired.

El Moussa's family is growing

In addition to a brand new show with his second wife, Heather Rae Young, Tarek El Moussa is expecting a brand new baby. The couple announced that they were expecting via an Instagram post in July 2022. Of course, El Moussa and Young couldn't be more excited, if a little surprised, about how quickly everything came together. "It was a huge shock," Young told People after the announcement. "We just weren't expecting this. We had just gone through IVF. We had embryos on ice. We had a plan." Thanks to the surprise pregnancy, those plans quickly changed. "I think when you least expect it, and there's no stress in your life, the world just brought us what was meant to be," Young added. "I'm so excited that it happened like this."

Young and El Moussa have been celebrating non-stop since getting the news. In true "Selling Sunset" style, Young threw herself an over-the-top baby shower complete with black tie gowns and celebrity guests, per Page Six. Bravo stars Heather Dubrow and Gretchen Rossi were in attendance, as were Young's "Sunset" co-stars Chrishell Stause and Emma Hernan. "I couldn't have asked for a more beautiful and magical day filled with so much love, excitement, and warmth, and it just made me even more ready for our baby boy to be here," Young wrote in an Instagram post chronicling the day's celebrations.

El Moussa has other TV shows

Tarek El Moussa may not have expected to land on TV, but he's certainly made a career out of it. Of course, "Flip or Flop" didn't last forever, but it was massively popular. It's not outside of the realm of possibility to think that if things had worked out between El Moussa and Christina Haack, it would still be running today. While the marriage came to an end, it was just the start of El Moussa's rise to fame.

As soon as "Flip or Flop" was canned, El Moussa landed a new show in 2021 called "Flipping 101 with Tarek El Moussa." In "Flipping 101," rather than flip houses for a profit as he did in "Flip or Flop," El Moussa mentors young buyers trying to get into the flipping business. "When I meet some of these rookie flippers buying these high-end homes, I want to run — it's really scary," he told the Los Angeles Times. "I have a lot of empathy for them because I've been in their shoes. Some of them, I didn't think there was any way possible they were going to pull it off."

Over a decade since this all started, Tarek El Moussa is still doing his best to combine his longterm real estate business — his first passion — with his surprising success as a reality TV star. And with wife Heather Rea Young now teaming up with him for their new show, "Flipping El Moussa," he apparently hasn't given up on combining love and career either.