Star of Bravo's 'Flipping Out' on How to Survive Housing Market Meltdown

This is a rush transcript from "The Big Story With John Gibson," August 27, 2007. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

GREGG JARRETT, "BIG STORY" GUEST HOST: The California housing market has been one of the hardest hit by the slowdown because, in part, according to some, flippers: people who bought homes, renovated them and then tried to sell them real quick for a profit, but then failed. One real estate investor has had a load of success flipping. Jeff Lewis is the star of his own hit reality TV show on Bravo which documents his experiences flipping homes and "Flipping Out."


JEFF LEWIS, "FLIPPING OUT: This, I don't need right now. I'm moving in two weeks. I've dealt with a client from hell. I don't need this right now. So this is very upsetting to me.


JARRETT: Jeff Lewis joins me now live from L.A. Jeff, you crack me up, I have to tell you. You know, you're amusing and yet neurotic at the same time. I hope I'm not offending you any. But look, why are people so fascinated with your program?

JEFF LEWIS, STAR OF "FLIPPING OUT": Well, I think it's nothing like anyone's ever seen. We have seen a lot of home improvement programs and flipping shows, and I think this is a true testament to how it really is out there in the flipping market. I think also the show is — we have now really started to address a market that's changing, and I'm not going to jump on that train and say that we're headed for a recession or we're headed for a depression. I see this as a correction, and here in Los Angeles prices are holding. I mean, you don't see me jumping ship. I mean, I don't really have an option because I've been working at this for the last 10 years of my life.

JARRETT: They're not holding everywhere. Corona, Inland Empire, somebody bought a home about a year ago for $750,000. It's now worth $550 on the market. So I mean, look, this whole mortgage meltdown — has that hurt what you do?

LEWIS: I mean, it's definitely affected what I do. It is much more difficult to get a mortgage. What I find is that we have a little less inventory, but we still have a strong buyer pool. I'm very aware of what's going on in the Inland Empire, with San Bernardino and Riverside counties, but remember, a lot of these developers went out there, they put together these 2,000-home subdivisions in an area that was already overbuilt, and then in order to sell these homes, they offered, what I call it, can't-refuse-loan programs, where they put people in at 100 percent financing, which means no money down, and a lot of these people had no reserves and they had low FICO scores. And now they're scratching their heads wondering why people aren't making their payments. Big surprise.

JARRETT: Yeah, no kidding. Do you have some advice for real estate buyers and sellers, Jeff?

LEWIS: Well I absolutely believe it is a good time to buy. I think if you're going to hold long term, this is a great time to buy because, unfortunately, and I do believe the media is somewhat responsible, is that right now we're dealing with a widespread panic. People are expecting their homes to fall 50 percent, and that is simply not going to happen. And so what's happening is we have a lot of sellers that feel very vulnerable and very fearful, me included. When you watch my show, you see that there was a moment there where I myself started to panic. When I start reading these articles every single day and watching the news, oh my god, I jumped on that train. I thought, I have to bail ship. I am going to bail ship. But the fact is that this is a great time to buy. I think if you're going to hold long term, real estate is still a great investment.

JARRETT: And when you get a little nervous there, Jeff, don't take it out on the employees. You don't want to be a little abusive now. That's the lawyer in me giving you a little free advice. Everybody on our staff loves your show on Bravo, "Flipping Out," Jeff Lewis, the star of it. Thanks for being with us.

LEWIS: Thank you very much, Gregg.

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