Sex, Lies & Real Estate
The Real Drama Is In The World Of Celebrity Realtors
Tarek El Moussa and Christina Haack’s divorce sparked a years-long chain reaction of mess among celebrity real estate agents.
2021 gave us a slew of incredible can-you-even-believe-these-two-dated celebrity couples. It was a year of relationship chaos, of couples touching tongues in pop-punk dresses and venturing outdoors for paparazzi shots in their ex-husband’s sneakers.
Though many of the agents of this chaos were A-listers, the purest form of celebrity anarchy wasn’t found on glitzy red carpets or in deranged GQ cover stories. No, the most underrated chaos was actually hiding in plain sight, housed in the blandest of packages: the open-concept, shiplapped mini (and mega) mansions of Southern California, where semi-famous real estate agents earning outrageous commission checks were seeding a chain reaction of mess from their extra long, barn-style dining tables.
The Patient(s) Zero of this story are the stars of HGTV’s Flip or Flop, Tarek El Moussa and his then-wife Christina. The two met while working in real estate, scouting houses around the Inland Empire to buy, renovate, and then flip for a profit. The “flop,” unfortunately, would turn out to be their seven-year marriage. After two kids, thyroid cancer (helpfully diagnosed by a viewer; he is now in remission), several TV seasons, and a still-mysterious but plenty sketchy incident involving a gun, the two would call it quits in 2016, finalizing their divorce in 2018. But endings are also beginnings, and Tarek and Christina’s divorce — as spectacular and disturbing as the tabloid coverage of it was — was merely the spark that ignited a fire that, this being drought-ridden California, rapidly spread among their friends and future partners.
Did you miss this tabloid cycle? Fear not. To use one of TikTok’s never-dying sounds, cellphones on silent and shut your f*cking mouths — the show is about to begin.
Here’s my nomination for the most chaotic celebrity relationship drama of the year.
To understand the drama to come, you must first understand how it’s indebted to its original sin, aka Tarek and Christina’s cursed relationship and subsequent divorce. Back in 2018, roughly two years after Tarek and Christina (whose last name has now flipped briefly back to Haack) separated, the tabloids learn that Christina is dating Ant Anstead, a British TV presenter known for shows like Wheelers Dealers and For the Love of Cars, which are apparently a big deal in the United Kingdom. “Tarek likes him,” she tells Us Weekly. “What’s not to like? Everybody likes him. He’s a great guy.” (Sure!)
Meanwhile, after dating one of his former nannies, Christina’s ex Tarek meets Heather Rae Young — another blond! — on a yacht in the summer of 2019. (Are Tarek and Christina in an endless competition to make each other jealous? I have no clue, but it sure seems like it!) Young is not just in real estate like Tarek, but she also plays a real estate agent on TV! Specifically, on the reality show Selling Sunset, where she is initially known for being a former Playboy Playmate and being distracted from work by a Sweden-based hockey player boyfriend.
After getting engaged to Tarek in July 2020, she gets a tattoo for Valentine’s Day that reads, “Yes Sir, Mr. El Moussa,” because “the family often [says] ‘yes sir, daddy’ or ‘yes sir, Mr. El Moussa’” around the house. This is much cuter to them than it is to the general public, and only a day after posting it on her Instagram, she deletes it.
Flash-forward to July 2021, and Heather’s chaos has maybe even rubbed off on her Selling Sunset co-star Chrishell Stause (formerly Hartley), who’s now regularly photographed alongside her boss-turned-boyfriend, Jason Oppenheim. True love, a damn good plotline, or both? You decide. Or wait for Season 5 of Selling Sunset, if you must.
As Tarek calls Heather Young “young lady,” the already-shifting plates underneath Southern California groan and shiver once more. Only the Big One could stop these two from barreling toward their eventual wedding (which, spoiler alert, was already filmed for a special on HGTV).
Christina, meanwhile, is starring on her own Flip or Flop spinoff, Christina on the Coast, and in July 2021 she, too, dives into another chaotic relationship fit to drive TMZ nuts. His name is Joshua Hall, he’s also a real estate agent (surprise!), and they meet and become inseparable after Christina “[hired] a spiritual coach and smoked a bufo toad” to help her be ready for her next relationship.
Before you judge, Josh “doesn’t have social media,” (well, now he has a sparsely populated Instagram) which makes him the best guy Christina’s ever dated. Plus, this admission leads to extraordinary headlines like, “Christina Haack Revealed She Smoked Psychedelic Toad Venom — But What Is It? A Doctor Explains” on People, and “‘Flip or Flop’ star Christina Haack said smoking toad venom made her less egotistical and prepared her for a relationship” on Insider. It doesn’t get more chaotic than that.
Or does it? In June 2021, on an episode of his Discovery+ series Celebrity IOU Joyride, Christina’s ex Ant Anstead meets none other than Oscar winner Renee Zellwegger. They’ve been dating since then.
And, scene. The cursed cycle begins anew.
Lindsey Weber is one half of Who Weekly, the podcast where you’ll learn everything you need to know about the celebrities you don’t.