Eric and Lindsey Bennett reveal some things you don’t know about ‘Desert Flippers’
Palm Springs Desert Sun
If you’re even a casual fan of “Desert Flippers” on HGTV, you know that per the opening montage Lindsey and Eric Bennett use their distinctive and picturesque locale as a “flipping playground” to buy distressed homes and then renovate and sell them.
The third season of the HGTV series ended in October, but reruns of the home improvement show are currently being aired so fans can still catch them.
What you see in each 30-minute episode is a made-for-TV couple with a sweet affection for each other. Eric is the calculating one when it comes to finding the homes and selling them. He’s also the jokester, peppering each episode with his corny dad jokes. Lindsey is the impulsive one when it comes to design and decor and, like any loving spouse, laughs, albeit quizzically, at all his jokes.
They also have three young sons who pop in and out of scenes, providing the cuteness factor and making you realize there is much more to what the viewers are privy to on screen in the past three seasons of “Desert Flippers.”
In a recent interview with the couple at a client’s home renovation in the Vista Las Palmas neighborhood in Palm Springs, they said they don’t know if there will be a fourth season yet in light of Discovery Inc.’s November acquisition of HGTV and a slew of other networks.
Last year, when “Desert Flippers” was picked up for a third season, HGTV made the announcement in December. There has yet to be a formal announcement one way or another.
“So we don’t know. The direction that we’re going it’s kind of ever-changing and it’s kind of nice to take a breather and assess,” said Lindsey.
“The other big factor is you have to look at the real estate market. Four or five years ago you could trip on the sidewalk and find a distressed property. But property values are pretty high right now and there’s a lot of people trying to get a piece of Palm Springs and the desert in general. And for us to sign up to do another 14 flips is a pretty big commitment. So we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it. But we’re really enjoying our down time,” added Eric.
In the meantime, we’re here to share some behind-the-scene insight. Here are six things you may not know about the “Desert Flippers.”
1. “Desert Flippers” wasn’t their first choice for a name.
They had proposed “Flipping on the Side” because that is exactly what they do, flipping homes isn’t their main gig. But they were told to just go with “Desert Flippers” in the beginning and it would be adjusted later. That obviously never happened.
Eric: Hey, we have our main occupation. I still do mortgages. Lindsey’s had a slew of different jobs. Something I always wanted to do was have a stable income, so you’re not stressing out about paying bills. You get by with your main job and if you can flip houses or have a different occupation on the side where you can earn some extra money, that’s where you can invest for retirement or invest in real estate. So one of the names we had come up with was ‘hey lets call it “Flipping on the Side.” Obviously that didn’t stick. But they said ‘You’re Desert Flippers for now. It’s day one. Don’t worry, we’ll fix it later.’
Lindsey: And we always thought it was like a …
Eric: …Like a seal (he cuts in and imitates a seal with noises.)
Lindsey: (Laughing). So we were never in love with it. “Desert Flippers” did stick and it’s been a great name and it’s really held well for us.
2) The pair did their first flip within a month of knowing each other.
They met in January of 2006 and did their first flip from January to March. They got their real estate licenses in August and moved from Wisconsin out to California that same year.
Eric: I read a book that said scout out a neighborhood you want to invest in. And walking is so slow, and I didn’t want to drive so I was actually rollerblading being pulled by my yellow Labrador, right. Probably something I would never want a picture of. Thankfully I don’t think anybody has one. But I identified a flip and right about that time is when Lindsey and I met each other and I had found the flip but I didn’t know how I was going to structure the deal. Keep in mind this is 25 years culminating in my first like flip. Everything I had learned. Everything I had read. Everything coming together. I had invested my heart and soul into this and then two seconds into my first conversation with Lindsey, she was like ‘oh yeah, I’ll do that with you.
Lindsey: Since Eric met me we’ve been pretty full throttle ever since. We did that first flip together within a month of knowing each other.
3) It actually takes two to three months to renovate each home.
The magic of TV showcases each flip in 30 minutes and each week it’s a new flip.
Lindsey: We have a goal of six to eight weeks and generally they take eight to 12 — depending on how elaborate it gets. The further we get into engineering, architecture, the permit process, that tends to be more of a variable in the timeline. So we try to get those things underway even when we’re in escrow and in the purchasing phase so we can kind of really go full throttle and push through.
Eric: It’s tough because a few years ago, run of the mill flips — carpet and paint, is what we call them — those flips were easier to find. So you can go in and do a cosmetic overhaul, fix the landscaping, get a house looking really great and you can flip it and make some money. But of late, we’ve had to take on worse and worse properties in order to find something that even has some margin to it and that adds a little bit because of the permitting process.
4) Lindsey has no formal design experience.
Despite seeing Lindsey create some amazing and bold design choices — from feature walls in bedrooms and tile selection in bathrooms and kitchen to knocking down walls and home furnishing decor for staging — she has no formal design experience. But she does have a plethora of life and work experiences that she says helps her succeed as a flipper. She was a waitress, competitive cheerleader, flight attendant, make-up artist and is a certified fitness instructor.
Lindsey: I don’t have design credentials. We are both very self-taught in what we do. We’ve got a lot of real-estate background but … the unique expertise I would say it takes to be host of an HGTV television show — competition cheerleader, a flight attendant — which really gave me the ability to stand up in front of people and put on a smile. I’m very positive from being a cheerleader. I won the positive award. Make-up artistry, I worked a lot in that.
5) They don’t have a crew of hair and make-up artists to get them TV-ready.
With her make-up artistry background, Lindsey does it all on her own and has taught Eric a thing or two about using tinted moisturizer.
Lindsey: We were honored to get to go on “Brother vs. Brother” and see the “Property Brothers” — kind of their behind-the-scenes and … one of their girlfriends was their make-up artist. And everyone of them had a little bit of touching up going on here or there. And in the very beginning Eric and I were very kind of average.
Eric: Lindsey is no longer average. I’m below average.
Lindsey: And as we kind of went along, I started to use self-tanner to be a little bit more bronzed and by Season 3 I had convinced Eric to just do a little of this and a little of that.
Eric: If it’s good enough for the “Property Brothers” it’s good enough for me.
6) The couple uses their off-season time to clean.
Lindsey and Eric use the small breaks in between seasons to breathe, declutter, spend more quality time with their children and do appearances at home shows.
Lindsey: We pull our lives back together. It’s really funny, we’ve been going full throttle for four years, but in the lulls between every season its just this cleanup time. Everybody does spring cleaning in their lives and we do that as well. It’s also a real reconnection with our kids. We try to go on vacation we try to be home with them.
Eric: When you’re constantly talking business, your marriage can turn into a business relationship and then when we have some downtime, it’s like ‘Oh hi!’
Lindsey: We went on a marriage cruise between the last two seasons with our church and then we did Big Bear this season with the kids. We did some sledding … and we went to Florida. We are doing that and we are cleaning out our garage. That is an amazing feat that we’ve never parked a car in our garage.
Eric: We’ve been out here in the desert for almost 12 1/2 years. I’ve never parked a car in a garage — never. But I think we’re almost there. So Lindsey’s car will be in the garage and I’ll still be outside. If you want to see what our closets and garage have looked like for the past couple of years just go to Angel View or Revivals, because all of our stuff is there right now.
Lindsey: Also Habitat for Humanity. We’ve sent some stuff there.
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