A&E’s former TV show Flipping Vegas started a trend of other television shows featuring rehabbers in the Vegas desert. But making money on Sin City real estate is not as easy as it seems on television. Flipping Vegas, which ran from 2011 to 2014, focused on Scott Yancey and his wife Amie, who ran a real estate development firm that rehabbed lowly houses and sold them for a profit. The show became popular because of the fiery personality conflicts between Scott and Amie, as they push their employees and each other to get properties finished on time and on budget.
The TV show is fairly straightforward, but what exactly went on behind the scenes? Let’s explore the reality behind A&E’s Flipping Vegas.
Who is Scott Yancey
Scott Yancey is the CEO and founder of Goliath Company, a major real estate firm in Nevada. Yancey started working in real estate at the tender age of 14. After an accident, Scott received a $30,000 settlement. He used the money to by a trust deed on a house in Studio City, California. Scott earned 14 percent interest on the deed, which he used to reinvest in properties he could renovate and flip. This made him a millionaire by the time he was in his 20s.
During Scott’s college years, he made one of his first big deals by buying and rehabbing an apartment complex with 40 units. He also purchased enough land to be able to sell 3,000 subsidized lots for more development.
Who is Amie Yancey?
Scott’s wife Amie is a jill of all trades, working as an interior designer, agent and investor for Goliath Company. Aime grew up in Canada, where her family raised horses.
Amie has sold over 700 homes in the Las Vegas area. She is known to push the staff hard to keep everyone on deadline. When Aime isn’t working, she enjoys riding horses and motorcycles. She speeds around Vegas in a Porsche and also dabbles in dirtbikes.
They Almost Quit
Like others in the real estate business, the 2007 real estate collapse nearly caused the couple to call it quits. But one day Scott overheard a business discussion while he was hanging out at a coffee shop.
Scott related the tale on his website: “At the next table, the discussion revolved around the Las Vegas real estate market and the fact that there were homes available to buy for as little as $36,000 that would rent out for $900/month. Just hearing those two numbers put Scott’s real estate brain into gear. Two things came to mind immediately, ‘You make your money on the buy in Real Estate’ and ‘fortunes are made in bad economies.'”
Scott and Amie realized that they could buy real estate at bargain basement prices and fix up the properties and then reselling them. In 2007, Scott poured his money into flipping. He says he made a 40 percent profit on every house. Now that the market has rebounded, Scott buys his homes for between $100,000 and $500,000, with an average profit of 20 percent.
Their Hollywood Connections Scored Them a TV Show
The concept for Flipping Vegas originated from conversations Scott had with his Hollywood friends. Scott had grown up in the Hollywood area and had many connections in the TV industry. Scott was boasting about his experiences during a dinner with his buddies.”I was telling them how I had to pull my Glock out on some homeless guys who came at me with needles in one of the houses that was all boarded up. They’re like, ‘Man, you need your own reality show. We’ll make it like a commercial for your website or something.’ So I paid their expenses, and they gave it to another friend of ours, who gave it to a guy who worked at Lionsgate. I was Lionsgate’s first reality TV show.”
Reality TV Flipping is Hard Work
There was a learning curve to working in television, but after a few episodes, the team found their groove. “It’s been a ton of work but a great experience for us,” said Scott. “We work pretty much seven days a week for six months straight when we’re filming, but it’s rewarding. This show came about because of my experience in real estate investing, not because I was a TV performer looking for a show to do.”
Scott and Amie say that the reality show is just a brief snapshot of how their real lives actually work. Each episode is less than 60 minutes long, but 120 to 140 hours of footage is shot. Editors comb through the footage to find 43 action-packed minutes. As a result, what the viewers see tends to be much more dramatic than what actually goes down during a renovation.
Scott told The Las Vegas Sun that the biggest stress they have comes from managing up to five other houses at the same time. Scott aso explained that the show never delves into the couple’s personal lives, which are more placid than the high-stakes of the business. “They don’t ever show me say ‘Thank you, good job’ to somebody or show us going to a restaurant at night or in the summer on a beach.”
Scott acknowledges, however, that working with one’s spouse is not always easy. “It’s reality TV for a reason, but try working with your wife for 12-14 hours a day,” Scott said.
The Seminar Business
Like many successful rehabbers who have been on TV, the Yanceys couldn’t resist teaching others what they know about renovating houses. They established a nationwide series of seminars and workshops, which are supposed to be free. However, the website Popsugar accused the Yanceys of being scammers. People who attended the workshops have been vocal about their experiences. The “free” seminar is a three-hour sales pitch to convince people to sign up for a $2,000 seminar that is a three-day workshop with the Yanceys. People who went to the $2,000 event said it was a three-day sales pitch for another program – one that costs $30,000!
Ruben Ponce attended the seminars and he reviewed it for YouTube.
He said “When we got there, it was absolutely nothing like how they pitched it,” he said. Scott and Amie do not attend the seminars.
The Yancey’s ask attendees to submit all their financial information, including their credit lines to 401(k)s and other retirement funds. Their sales team then explains to people that they should leverage their credit to buy into another level of the Yancey’s seminars. Critics say it is unscrupulous to encourage people to empty their retirement accounts early, which usually comes with a big penalty.
Their marketing materials state:”Self-Direct IRA/401K: Do you understand how to use your current retirement funds to build wealth in real estate?”
Although people clearly have the right to turn down the opportunity to buy more products from the Yanceys, it’s also true that with the amount of money they invest in seminars, people could buy dilapidated properties and begin their renovations.
Are Flipping Shows Real?
Flipping shows frequently draw criticism from people who are in the home renovations industry. One of the accusations against Flipping Vegas and other TV shows is that they have a habit of leaving many costs out. Viewers don’t hear about things like commissions, fees, holding costs, or closing costs. Another misrepresentation is the degree of speed with which massive renovations take place. The permitting process can be daunting and cause significant delays. The Yanceys have been called out for engaging in a frequent TV renovation ploy: buying a property allegedly sight unseen, then displaying full knowledge about what major problems exist on the property. Critics say there’s no way these properties were purchased without at least some research by the flippers.
Despite criticisms and doubts, Scott and Amie have been very successful in Las Vegas. The Yanceys are believed to have a net worth of about $5 million. They also created a charity called Ride to Recovery, which helps wounded military veterans, to share their wealth for a worthy cause.