I just got a flyer in the mail from Tarek and Christina El Moussa of HGTV’s “Flip or Flop.” They say they want to teach me how to “have the courage to retire rich” by flipping houses like they do through a Success Path real estate seminar.
UPDATE: They demanded that I take down the photo I snapped of the brochure because it’s “proprietary material.” It had a large photo of the couple and said “The Stars of America’s Favorite Real Estate Reality TV Show, Tarek & Christina, Are Now Flipping Ohio!”
I was invited to attend “an exclusive real estate success event to gain insider access and information” at a nearby hotel. So I looked into it, and this is what I learned…
Success Path Real Estate Events
The Success Path website says:
“Tarek and Christina El Moussa have over a decade of professional real estate experience and have been featured in national print publications, online media outlets, and HGTV’s Flip or Flop. The dynamic couple has created unique strategies that give them an edge in today’s real estate market. Now, Tarek and Christina have turned these strategies into an educational program that has helped people, just like you, start their own real estate business.”
Not only is the seminar free, but they hand out MP3 players and “educational CDs” to anyone who attends. I would imagine the chance to meet HGTV superstars Tarek and Christina would be enough to motivate a lot of theirs fans to show up even without the door prizes, though.
What I Learned About the Seminars
- The workshops have been given in cities around the country (the U.S.) since 2013.
- The flyer might have their faces and names on them, but that’s as close as you’re going to get to them. They don’t actually attend, let alone teach, the seminars.
- The point of the free seminar is to get you to sign up for a longer weekend training for $2,000.
- For $2,000, they promise to teach “Tarek and Christina’s methods of finding properties that are so very unique that others don’t know about.”
- After attending the $2,000 seminar, they invite you to spend more — one source says “up to $40K” — on additional training.
Melissa, who paid $2,000 for one workshop and $10,000 for another, explains:
At each stage, you get nuggets of gold (info, details, how-tos, tips) but you have to sit through a lot of “rah-rah” nonsense. And, of course, you get what you pay for. If you have some money to invest in real estate but do not have a background as a realtor or landlord or builder, you get a great deal of education, inside connections to sources of funding and other connections.
My advice is to not attend the free seminar unless you want to invest in some training. And don’t expect to meet Tarek and Christina in person. It’s a franchise, they are selling training, and you get what you pay for. The info is readily available, most for free, you just have to know where to look.
I got good solid info, once they stopped selling the next level of classes, good connections to local people, and access to databases of info not easily available to those of us not already in the industry.
Gail paid to attend additional workshops, too, and reports:
Presenters are not high pressure but make you believe it is all easy. If it was easy we would all be rich from real estate.
They will want you to call all of your credit cards to increase the available limits so you can pay for the “training.”
They have a software that is free for the first 6 months. It really does nothing for me. It lists other lists that if you do your own research you can find them in public records.
(You can read more reviews on the Bigger Pockets forums.)
Amanda complained to HGTV on Facebook after her mother attended:
The whole thing is a scam where the speaker tries to make people feel badly about not investing. It is sad to see that these people on your network actually endorse people being taken advantage of in this way.
There is a video of Tarek and Christina in the beginning of the seminar, so they cannot deny they are a part of the scam.
I would like to see their show suspended until an investigation is done about them profiting from this. It is a shame to have people attached to your network that would try to take advantage of your viewers and I hope this situation is rectified in a timely manner.
Portland Workshops Canceled After Backlash
When they promoted one in Portland and surrounding cities last December, there was so much backlash online that the seminars were canceled. Residents objected to the idea of teaching people how to flip houses there when they’re already dealing with a lack of affordable housing and sky-high rent in the area.
Christina issued this statement:
We get asked a ton of questions about house flipping. That’s one of the reasons we started coaching and mentoring. People are genuinely excited to learn what has worked for us.
We cancelled the Success Path training tour through Oregon and Washington due to a vocal group who somehow linked us to the issue of affordable housing. We are very accustomed to being on the receiving end of people’s opinions. My hairstyles, my mothering, and my interior design choices in flip houses — all are discussed.
Rent affordability is not a local issue. All across America, and abroad, it is a serious topic worthy of discussion. There is no simple solution to such a complex and sensitive situation. When demand exceeds supply there is tension.
A local news station in Pittsburgh investigated Success Path and you can watch their segment on it here. On Reviewopedia, the program has an average of 1 1/2 stars, with some reviewers calling it a scam. So did a lot of people on Scam.org and on this Facebook post.
But I found others who insisted it was worthwhile for them to learn more about real estate investing and to make contacts with other investors in their area, even if they were disappointed that Tarek and Christina didn’t show up to teach the classes themselves.
Has anyone else gotten an “invitation” like this and wondered if it was legit? If you attended any of the seminars, let us know what you thought and if they were worth the $$$!
2019 Update: “The FTC Acts Against Company Using Celebrity Endorsements, Bogus Earnings Claims to Sell Real Estate Seminars.” Read their full statement.
Emily Clark says
I don’t know anything about it, but I just love your “investigative reports.” 🙂 So interesting…
Thanks, Emily! 🙂
Alie B says
Interesting post, Julia. Thanks for this. I’m not a big fan of this show. I find the building and design choices a bit vanilla. It seems to me that they use the same dark, espresso cabinets, brown granite counters, and beige paint for every project. The rooms are staged in a similar manner too; everything neutral, everything new. I don’t get the feeling I’m its main target audience. I think it’s geared more to those people who want to make money flipping houses. As for the seminars, it does sound a bit fishy. I think if the second seminar wasn’t sooo expensive, and if the El Moussas actually appeared at the second seminar, people wouldn’t feel scammed. Your first reviewer seemed to get something out of the experience.
I agree about the décor! It gets boring seeing the same colors and styles in every episode…
I assume they are really flipping houses and therefore their primary goal is to sell houses and not create truly individualized designs. A friend of mine has a house flipping business on a fairly large scale and always uses the exact same cabinets, finishes, etc., because he knows what sells and it saves time.
Sadie W. says
I’m happy to report that I did the Success Path training (YES – the big money package) and it did work. I’ll do my best to explain but I worked my way from the free event to the 2k workshop to a big package.
My experience with the company has been great! I met Christina and Tarek at the Vegas event and they know WAY more information than HGTV puts out. Super knowledgeable and very likable couple!
From event to event I was blown away by the professionalism the employees put out and how much information their instructors know (from their own experiences) which is why I invested.
The coaching works extremely well! I received a coach that is actively investing in real estate and anytime I had questions or was working through paperwork or trying to figure out which properties to invest in, I could easily make an appointment with him and we’d talk everything through. I’m not sure if anyone commenting has invested in real estate but there is SO much legal jargon you have to get through and the coaches know it all and will help you make the best choice.
I also attended the Vegas event which is where I met LOTS of real estate investing celebrities from many different shows. All of them were so personable and the event was insane. So much information being given, tons of companies there that will help you with funding, finding properties, figuring out taxes, etc, etc, etc. THAT was an experience I’ll never forget. Plus they have motivational speakers that are amazing and really keep you excited about investing.
I currently have 3 deals in the works and the money I am expected to make surpasses what I paid in training and is almost my yearly salary. Would I recommend this program? Absolutely.
Shelley @ Calypso in the Country says
Yes! I got a flyer about a year ago. My 11 yr old son (who loves the show) was excited and told me to go but I had a feeling it was a scam so I never looked any further. I am usually suspicious of those type of things….It didn’t actually say in the flyer that Tarek and Christina would be teaching the class so I figured they were just on there for marketing.
These “seminars” are one of the ways the stars of the shows capitalize on their fame and make more money. I don’t have a problem with that in theory, but I believe they prey on people to invest who can’t really afford it. The formula is the same for all of the seminars – go to the free intro, then pay big money for a weekend training, and then even bigger money for advanced training. I live in the Bay Area and I have to hear (Flip This House) Than Merrill’s annoying voice on the radio ad nauseum for his “exclusive” seminars to learn how to make money in real estate. Armando Montelongo, also Flip This House, had/has the same seminars. For the absolute novice who knows nothing, maybe the free workshop would be worth someone’s time, but IMHO, these seminars are a rip-off (see http://www.ripoffreport.com).
It yells scam. Anything that says, “get rich quick” when it’s only the people on top of the pyramid who are getting rich off all the gullible people. I can’t stand this hgtv couple & their show & I can’t stand the annoying house flipper on the radio & TV commercials who spouts the same stuff. Always remember the old adage, “if it’s too good to be true, it is.”
Meh. I’d have to disagree. You can make good money if you work your ass off. Most people think “Get Rich Quick” means “make a ton of money without having to do much work” when what programs like these give you is “make good money only if you work a lot to earn it”.
It’s not a bad thing, but you have to understand what it is and what it will require of you before getting into it.
I guess it’s that old saying – if it seems too good to be true, it is. Are there really any get-rich-quick schemes that are legit? But the more important question, why is the guy’s head shaped like a triangle? Is it just a bad version of the Saturday Night Live character, Ed Grimley?
Jill B says
I’ve always wondered that same thing. Such a bad haircut.
“Are there really any get-rich-quick schemes that are legit?”
Yes and no. Most people think “Get Rich Quick” means “make a ton of money without having to do much work” when what programs like these give you is “make good money only if you work a lot to earn it”.
I watched “Flip or Flop” for the first time last month, on vacation. My takeaway from one episode is that they don’t know what they’re doing, and would benefit greatly from knowing the basics about house construction, in terms of 1) the condition of what they’re buying and 2) what needs to be done for remodeling. At the very least, hiring a house inspector (and forming a relationship with one they trust) would be a huge financial benefit to them. They seem to make a lot of mistakes and waste a TON of money. I don’t understand why anyone would think they know what they’re doing. Then again, I watch most HGTV shows with a jaded eye and a tub of salt at hand — so many of these shows seem to play fast and loose with the facts and actual numbers.
Patsy Floyd says
HGTV is all about drama. Truth about design and construction is the least of their concern. When HGTV first started, they had some really good informative shows, but now it is all drama,( oh know cost overrun) being cute,(Chip and JoJo) and the one that is way off base is Love it or List it.
Patsy nailed it. TV is all about ratings and it’s the drama, the “oh no, will they succeed?” that keeps people tuned it. I wouldn’t trust TV to be a good depiction of reality. Especially since they condense what can be months of work down into half an hour or so.
all the tv people who do these seminars are just after the money.
tarek and christina
armando montelongo from AE Flip This House
than merrill from AE Flip This House
it is just a scam.
they all get tv shows and then become mentors/coached? please.
it is just like how many comics all got tv shows and now radio shows.
all bullsh t.
save your money as THEY ARE ALL SCAMS.
I attended there seminar last night. What a joke. Wanted to crack the speaker. Such a crook!!!!
I admit I like the show, probably because most of it is filmed in my neck of the woods, although there are a few things about the show that bug me (the manufactured drama, Christina’s and her “Real Housewives/Hollywood Glam” look and affected manner of speaking that weren’t there in the first season, etc) but I have to give them props for striking while the iron is hot and making as much $$$ as they can while they are able. However, they are misleading people into thinking that T & C themselves are conducting these “get rich quick through real estate” seminars.
I Don’t think it’s fair to pick on Christina’s looks I just got done watching the whole 1st season tonight on Netflix and I watch it on HGTV . She hasn’t changed at all she has great style loves makeup etc…. so do I……..Just thought that comment was tacky;)
Robert Kiyosaki is running the same seminar scam.
further info: armando was sued
“..You get another view by following a long trail of complaints. Two years ago the Texas attorney general’s office launched an investigation into the seminar’s practices. Settling the case without admitting any wrongdoing, Montelongo agreed, among other things, to refrain from any “false” claims, to give “conspicuous notice” that the free seminar is a vehicle to sell goods and services (CDs, books and DVDs), and to provide prompt refunds. Montelongo shrugs it off: “If you don’t want to be criticized, then don’t do anything great with your life.”
he seminar company rates an F from the Better Business Bureau. “You don’t get anything substantive,” complains Lori Jakubowski, a Realtor from near Pebble Beach, Calif., who paid $1,500 for two sessions. “There were a lot of people who were unemployed just looking for some easy way to make money. And I felt like an idiot because I was right in there with them.” Of the 150-plus complaints received in the last three years, most grumble about the product, misleading advertising and slow-to-nonexistent refunds. “In 2010 and 2011 they just ignored the complaints,” says Carrie Hurt, CEO of the BBB’s branch in Austin, Tex. “Now they’ve started responding.” Sometimes with a smirk. Says Andy Moon, Montelongo’s corporate attorney: “You know the BBB is based in Austin, which is very liberal and in the consumer protection capital of the world.” ”
Now bc the BBB is wathching his *ss montelongo has seminar attendees sign a waiver of rights to prevent lawsuits
….”…No alum is currently suing. Perhaps that’s because of the exacting terms of the contract, which each seminar attendee must sign. It absolves Montelongo and his staff of liability for any “financial, investment, legal, accounting or other professional services or advice” they offer. “It is your sole responsibility to seek independent advice from professionals of your choosing.” No financial advisor could get away with that. “They can’t attempt to disclaim liability for their advice,” says Mark Astarita, a securities and corporate attorney in Verona, N.J. “They need to stand by their advice. That’s what they’re paid for.”….” A SCAM.
Great post. Interesting that this is going on. A shame to people loosing money in a scam.
Sadie W. says
Hi there! I am a student with the Success Path program that is making money. If you have any questions, please feel free to email me! I explained the program a little bit more in an older comment above. Check it out if you would like! 🙂
I’m a big fan of HGTV. However, Flip or Flop has never appealed to me. In large part, I find the wife very off-putting.
This line from her “statement” jumps out:
“My hairstyles, my mothering, and my interior design choices in flip houses — all are discussed.”
She’s pretty bitchy.
In her defense, people are pretty bitchy toward her as well.
A friend attended a ‘no name’ how to make money flipping houses in the Denver area. The biggest point they came away remembering was: get your investment money from your friends and family. That might clear your living room of both groups.
In one of the shows in the last year Tarek and Christina mentioned they didn’t have time for something because they had 15 other projects going. If they have flipped so many houses, why are they constantly ‘surprised’ by the hidden problems they encounter in virtually every house they buy – whether they could see the house before buying or not? Just wondering!
Because there has to be some sort of “drama.” Their car getting stolen, squatters in houses, title issues, corroded plumbing, construction and/or electrical that’s not to code, a completely damaged foundation and other “unexpected” costly issues. I don’t know if it’s to show viewers that there’s always the possibility that something can go wrong when you remodel houses but the way they portray it makes them seem like they’re completely baffled as to how it happened when anyone with eyes could spot the problem from the get-go. It’s kind of insulting to viewers’ intelligence.
I love Than Merrill’s ad where he says he will divulge his easy 3 step process for flipping houses. My guess it is buy, fix up, sell. I don’t need a seminar to tell me that.
I live in Illinois and got my “Invitation” about a month ago. I’m skeptical about anything that is suppose to be a $147 value for FREE. Needless to say, I didn’t go. Not to mention I don’t really care too much for their show so going to a seminar with or without them there wasn’t a draw for me.
These kinds of seminars have been going on for a long time. I went to a “free” house flipping “seminar” back in the ’80’s. They only make money by having you sign up for more seminars so they dribble out the information – it’s a scam.
I really dislike these two and this show. Who would ever buy a house from these two? All they want to do is cut corners and make the least expensive choice so they can make the biggest profit. The goal is not the best choice in any given moment – the goal is for them to get rich.
I like “This Old House” or that guy in Canada who is a stickler for details or “Fixer Upper” where they take time to make long term investment decisions – for safety and for beauty – in a home. I always learn something from those shows. For this “flipper” show – I just feel grossed out and don’t watch anymore.
I’ve always wondered if the buyers of their flips see the episode with their new home and wonder what problems they may encounter because of T & C’s “do it as cheap as possible” ways. It “looks” good but is actually done right?
My brother in law and I attended the Tarek and Christina Success Path seminar and are ashamed to say ….fell for the presentation. Paid the $2,000 only to find out after reviewing the starter kit material that YOU WILL NOT be getting a host of investors that will fund your deal, nor will you get the other promised keys to being able to buy properties and flip them. UNLESS, you are willing to pay up to an extra $70,000!!! for “advanced seminars” wherein you will get this critical information. What a scam and insult from those that you thought might be legit.
Oh, man, I’m so sorry to hear that, Bill. Thanks for telling your story, though. Maybe it’ll save someone else some money!
I dunno. I recently stumbled across a video of an older woman (71, I think) who has been doing this stuff for a year and will be making around $80,000 on her third house. I believe she said the second one made her a little over $50,000. Not sure on the first.
But when she was telling her story, you could tell she was a hard worker. I was impressed.
M. Brown says
I attended last year and asked one of the staff in back about the ‘guaranteed access’ promised after the 2,000 seminars – they admitted the access wasn’t given (to these preferred lenders ‘ready to work with you’) until you paid for the next tier of information. I did some research, after taking notes during the tax lien sales speech – the information he provided wasn’t correct. I emailed Tarek and Christina at the email provided, got the “we’ll look into it” from him and his assistant. When I asked further questions – no response.
M. Brown says
To clarify – the next tier I mention is the 20,000-70,000 level. (You can pay extra to meet Tarek and Christina…) In the initial pitch, it was promised (yes, promised) after the 2,000 class.
Thanks for this Julia! My mom had a similar experience with the Property Brothers, so it’s great that you’re spreading the knowledge for people who might be getting an unfair offer!
I didn’t realize they had real estate seminars, too. Wow! I’ve got to say I’m surprised HGTV is letting their big-name stars endorse things like that. Thanks, Brian.
Thanks for the post. We got the invitation last week, and we were skeptical. It’s good to know the details. I thought it was odd that we were given “free tickets” worth $147. It was obvious to me that Tarek and Christina would not be there because it was free, but there was nothing in the brochure that said that they wouldn’t be there. Very misleading.
“It was obvious to me that Tarek and Christina would not be there because it was free, but there was nothing in the brochure that said that they wouldn’t be there. Very misleading.”
How is that misleading?
Also, I’d have to say – you’re one of the smarter ones. 🙂 Most of the complaints I’ve seen are that they don’t show up. But like you said, isn’t it obvious?
I am SO glad you made this post. I completely over-looked the event and didn’t check for reviews. I attended the event this morning and left after 10minutes when the speaker said additional “training.”
I am extremely DISAPPOINTED in the couple for doing this. I’m sure the SuccessPath is a decent mentoring program, but I am absolutely disgusted that Christina and Tarek used their image to promote this. These are your viewers…you could’ve promoted your events and not have your image splatter all over the ads, beating around the bush, hoping people will attend. It shows how powerful the media can be…yikes!
I am no longer a fan of them and will make sure HGTV does something about this, since their logo is printed on the ads.
Janes N. says
Great post. Interesting that this is going on. A shame to people loosing money in a scam.
I actually love their show 🙂 but obviously people need to be aware . It never said from what I gather they would make a appearance. But no I don’t agree with them having their faces to promote this although people need to have enough sense not to blow money if you don’t have it to spend. I would of never fallen for it myself its not that hard to flip a house lol!! My Husband is in the building and roofing business.
JEANNE EISENSTEIN says
went to the seminar today and signed up – within 30 minutes I am already feeing the remorse and I feel cheated — I will be getting my money back. I do think this is a scam — We stopped watching the show over a year ago because it was so fake WHAT WAS I THINKING!!
Debbie H says
Wow, I am surprised that HGTV condones this. I used to watch HGTV all the time but not much any more. It caters to the rich and wanna be rich. They used to have a lot of shows for average people. This story just makes me sad that HGTV has stooped this low.
I was watching an HGTV show over my mom’s shoulder once and whoever it was offered more than the asking price. That annoyed me. Offer asking price. Take my money. Done.
Whoa, anytime someone tells you that you should increase your credit card limit so that you can buy more of what they’re selling… HUGE RED FLAG! That screams scam. Getting rich almost never starts with taking on high interest consumer debt.
Thanks for making this post and saving a lot of people from disappointment and debt!
I reeived a mailing at my home address for someone that has not lived here for over 25 years. They are apparently grasping at straws for potential targets…er…clients.
Thanks for the report on this opportunity…er…scam.
I attended an informational meeting “brought to you by Tarek and Christina El Moussa” in Florida in March. My friend and I were hoping to gain information about flipping houses. The session was essentially a sales pitch directed at getting people to purchase attendance at a 3-day “real estate investment accelerator” seminar. The speaker said the normal cost was $6,000, but if you signed a contract “today”, the cost was only $1,997 for you and your guest. They also pitched the purchase ($997) of membership in a Tax Lien Buyers Club, which included access to online resources and tax lien hotline support. The idea was to gain inside knowledge and assistance in purchasing tax liens. I signed up for both programs, but had second thoughts after returning home. I researched the Success Path program online and found numerous reviews (check out Reviewopedia and Ripoff Report). I learned that you would be asked to spend additional money ($20,000 and up) for advanced training, including the assignment of a mentor. I opted out of my contracts (you had three business days to cancel). I decided tol use less expensive ways to get an education about flipping houses.
Yikes. I’m glad you were able to opt out! Thanks, Rudy.
Thanks so much for your post Rudy! I too fell for the scam and paid for the 3 day workshop. After seeing everyone’s posts, I canceled everything today. I didn’t sign up for the tax lien program but was very tempted to. Did you cancel the Tax lien program too? If not, how is it? Is it worth a try? Or is that a scam too? Your help and advice will be greatly appreciated. Thanks!
I initially signed up for the tax lien program. But I learned through research that there are many pitfalls that could lead to a loss of your investment and possibly more. And it’s potentially time consuming, particularly if the property goes into foreclosure. So I cancelled. You’re at a big disadvantage when you go into buying tax liens for the first time. For one thing, you’re up against experienced lien investors, including big institutional investors. I did not feel comfortable with the support promised.
My husband and I invested our last $3,000 savings into this program which was basically a sales pitch for a more expensive program. We were so extremely disappointed, sad and humiliated. And, we bought into an additional program being sold for another $1,000. After the first day of training, it was clear we were being pitched. It’s flat out fraud, if you ask me. So sad. We could really use that money now.
My cousin and I attended the free seminar hoping to gain insight from professionals on how to start a business flipping houses. As soon as we filed into the hotel’s meeting room we were told by another attendee that Tarek & Christina would not be there due to their shootings schedule. That was confirmed by the presenter who then played a short intro film with the couple endorsing the program. As soon as the presenter started pitching the three day course for the “discounted” amount of $1997.00 I immediately thought of Trump University and how people were encouraged to extend their credit limits to pay for additional courses and this sounded as though it could be a similar scam. We left immediately after the first speaker finished but there were people who were signing up. I have since read a lot of reviews on the Success Path program and while there were some who said they did learn some useful information, many said that you can access the same info online. I agree with reviewers who said to not bother going unless you are willing to spend for the additional classes otherwise it’s just a waste of time. I certainly felt I had wasted mine and haven’t watched Flip or Flop since.