The HGTV star and Selling Sunset realtor found an unexpected home for four in the middle of a pandemic

By Hannah Chubb
June 15, 2020 12:01 PM
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Tarek El Moussa and Heather Rae Young are pros at keeping their cool when everything doesn’t play out quite as planned.

After nine months of dating, the Flip or Flop star, 38, and Selling Sunset realtor, 32, were ready to say goodbye to the Costa Mesa, Calif., bungalow they had been living in — El Moussa’s “bachelor dad pad” he bought after splitting from his ex-wife (and current HGTV co-star) Christina Anstead in 2016. “It was sad to move on,” allows Young. “But we were really excited to get something together and make it our own.”

The couple put in an offer on a new property they thought would be their dream home, but after selling Tarek’s old house in just two days, the deal fell through, leaving them with no place to live. Their quick fix ended up being a boon for their blended family: a beautiful Newport Beach rental just a block from the ocean.

“We’re used to things being thrown at us,” Young adds. “So it was just another challenge.” It’s one that El Moussa, who also hosts a new solo showFlipping 101, now sees as a blessing.

“I’ve been in real estate a very long time, and you learn new things every day,” he says. “I never thought by living in a different location, it would change the way you live.”

Grant Rivera/Apex Studios
Grant Rivera/Apex Studios

Having pulled off a socially distanced moving day in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic, the two are now keeping busy turning the two-level, five-bedroom property into a home for El Moussa’s two kids whom he shares with Anstead: Taylor, 9, and Brayden, 4.

Though it was hard to say goodbye to the house where their relationship first blossomed (“Tarek and the kids really made me feel like it was my home from the second I walked in,” Young says), the busy duo are so excited to be starting fresh in a new space — and new neighborhood.

Grant Rivera/Apex Studios
Grant Rivera/Apex Studios

“We’ve absolutely fallen in love with Newport Beach,” El Moussa says. “I was never an outdoor guy before, but now I come home from work and I look outside and there are people everywhere having fun. Now I want to be active with the kids.”  

Their new home overlooks The Wedge, a world-famous surf spot, and El Moussa's boat, named "Bad Decisions," is parked nearby. Young says the property is also "attached to a tennis court,” and the backyard is twice the size of other homes in the area. 

Grant Rivera/Apex Studios
Grant Rivera/Apex Studios

“We have a tennis instructor now so the kids will play for an hour and then Tarek and I will play for an hour,” Young says, adding that they’ve also been swimming — and playing lots of Marco Polo — in their backyard pool, as well as riding bikes as a family at least once a day when the kids are there. “We’re having fun, but we're all sore!” she jokes.

“The biggest thing was obviously making the kids feel comfortable,” El Moussa says of the move. Young, who refers to herself as their “bonus mom,” let them choose the themes for their bedrooms. Taylor went for baby blue and silver, and Brayden wanted his room to be all about his love of race cars, “just like his dad,” she says. “We really wanted to make it about family and get them involved in decorating.”

Grant Rivera/Apex Studios
Grant Rivera/Apex Studios

The master suite also received a special makeover.  Inside, Young says, they feel like they’re “in a hotel,” less one very personal detail: the sign over the bed that reads “I Love You Too Honey Bunny.” 

“Honey Bunny is my nickname for Heather,” El Moussa admits. The room also includes a mini-bar, seating area and a balcony with water views.

Grant Rivera/Apex Studios

Despite being decorated with homemade gifts from the kids — including seashells, stuffed animals and a Mother’s Day collage in the shape of the letter 'H' that Taylor made for Heather — Young still describes the room as “sexy” and “very romantic.” 

While they know their time in this house is temporary, the family is grateful to have a fresh start together. “In selling my old home, I let a piece of the past go,” adds El Moussa. “It was a very defining moment in my life. But now it’s time to move on to the next chapter. And that’s right here.”

For more on El Moussa and Young watch the full home tour above and to see exclusive photos, check out the latest issue of PEOPLE now available