Seven Questions for Scott Yancey

The star of A&E’s 'Flipping Vegas' on the benefits of dropping out of college, why renting beats flipping and living life in the fast lane

Photo by Jon Estrada

Photo by Jon Estrada

How did the idea to star in your own reality show with your wife, Amie, come about?
I’m from the Hollywood area originally, and I was talking with some buddies who are in the industry. 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.

Part of your narrative is not having a fancy degree or being born with a silver spoon. How does that help influence viewers or students at the seminars you host to take the leap into flipping?
I’m not a college graduate. I went to probably five colleges, and I dropped out of them all. I have ADD. I didn’t come from money. But you don’t need money to be a real estate investor, and that’s what I teach people. I did my first land deal on my own without any of my own money, and I netted $2.3 million. I can relate to most of the people who write to me and say, “I’d love to do what you’re doing. I don’t like my job, but I don’t have any money.” Great, you don’t have to. You’re right where I started.

As the market changes, do you recommend people stay in the flipping industry?
Flipping is great at first to generate capital, but as an investor, the goal is to take your capital and invest it in rental properties. The rental properties pay you every month. Flipping, you make one payday; you’ll make $100,000 on a good flip. [Investing] that in a rental property [can] make you $5,000 a month. … It’s a lot less work to collect a rent check than to renovate a house.

Vegas is notorious for nightmare stories of bad renters. What’s been your worst experience?
I renovated this one house right after I started [in this business], and when I finally kicked [the tenants] out, the neighbors told me what was going on. They told me there were about 11 people living there, and they would steal the neighborhood dogs until there were reward signs put up. They were absolutely filthy. I mean hair in every sink; every wall had holes in it. It made me want to cry because I had just redone the house. I guess I’ve toughened up.

Speaking of tough, how much of what is on the show is really indicative of the personalities of you and your wife?
It’s reality TV for a reason, but try working with your wife for 12-14 hours a day. That will really bring out reality. They shoot about 120-140 hours per episode, and that gets edited down to 43 minutes. [The producers] know our fans. They love it when I break shit, and that’s my favorite part. If I could take a bulldozer and knock out a shed, that’s great. Take a chainsaw to a wall, that’s great. Demolition is No. 1; drama is No. 2. And then education.

Where do you see the real estate market headed?
We’ve had a false sense of high-fiving each other for a while. Prices went up on everything I own at least 35 percent—I think the stats say the average appreciation last year was 28 percent. But I don’t see a huge increase in jobs. And about 48 percent of all the purchases last year were from investors; they were cash buyers. So I don’t think we’ve had a true recovery in Vegas, but we had a supply-and-demand issue—there was a lot of demand. The word was out.
I think a lot of the flippers are out of the flip market. Folks are doing more buying and holding, which is what the endgame should be as a real estate investor. I don’t see things going up this year like they did last year. You may have a lot of people who [bought] properties last year and need to sell them. So you might see a stable line, or you may even see a little bit of a dip.

You’re a big car guy. What’s your most recent purchase?

A Ferrari 458. You can tell their craftsmen were so involved, making sure the exhaust sounds a certain way and it’s got a particular feel in the cockpit and on the wheels.

I flew into Newport Beach on a Friday night, picked it up and drove it home Saturday morning. The worst part was, for almost 70 miles, a cop was right there. He must’ve seen my license plates were brand-new and thought he needed to teach me a lesson.

You and your wife have parlayed the show’s success into another business, Goliath Growth. What’s the business model for that?

A lot of people will see the show, and they’re like, “Oh, man, that looks like a lot of work. We don’t want to have to fight with our wife and demo walls and do all of that. We just want to invest in your deal.” I’ve been hearing that for so many years that we’ve finally put together a program where I can actually have people invest in our deals.

How many rental houses do you need until you can quit the job you hate?

It’s important to get a good renter. I’m pretty good at picking them now and qualifying them to the point where I have people who want to renew every year. In fact, I only take cash. I buy near hospitals, so a lot of my [tenants are] ER docs and nurses. They’re busy, and their schedules aren’t always when my office is open, so a lot of time they ask if they can pay three to six months in advance. I love renters like that.

As Flipping Vegas has gotten more popular, your celebrity has grown. What’s it like dealing with fame?

Our show started out playing in just Canada, the U.S. and Mexico, and now it’s all over the world. I have people from Italy and Iceland reaching out. My wife and I, we have no kids at home, so we like to go out and have dinner on the Strip and go all over the place. There are tourists everywhere, and there will be about a dozen people in a night who will come up to us.

I enjoy people saying hi. It’s a little bit nerve-wracking, though. I’ve been pulled over before where a cop wants to tell me about the show. I about crapped a brick, because I’m usually speeding.