"The ‘mad rush till the last minute’ nature of the program really adds heightened emotion, and some excellent editing makes the program very entertaining for this reason."
Shaynna, Cherie Barber, Mike Baird, Doug Clark, Andrew Winter...more, Cameron McEvoy, Sarah Beeney, Michael Caton
Real-life property lessons from The Block, Hot Property and other reality shows: Cameron McEvoy
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Although most of us are back at work already, some lucky readers out there may still be on annual leave. During my short break I was able to catch up on some of my favourite property-themed TV entertainment programs from around the world.
I have ranked my top six favourite programs that I think are the most information-rich programs, starting at number six. By no means is this an exhaustive list; there are more shows out there that I’ve not mentioned, but I feel the ones mentioned below are the most useful and accessible for investors.
Coming from a media background myself, I’m always keeping my eyes and ears open for new media and programs that have a property focus. It is important to note upfront is that the bulk of these shows are produced squarely as entertainment first and education second. That said, I’ve been able to extract value out of all of the programs below and take away some great lessons that have helped me in my investment life.
Number 6 – Hot Property (Australia)
Concept/Synopsis: Actor and famous Australian icon Michael Caton hosts a program focused on the negotiation process between property buyers, sellers and renovators. The episodes feature an auction in every episode, as well as private sales.
Why it is entertaining: This program is a little bit “loose”. The structure tends to change from episode to episode, with some focusing mostly on the stressful auction process (which plays out like a soap opera thanks to some clever editing and the addition of some emotional musical curves), with others focusing on the families of first-time property buyers.
Why I like it: This show is very much ‘entertainment first, facts second’ in its priorities, however it does give great insight into the objectives and motivations of both buyers and sellers, all emotionally invested in the same property. It is also an excellent exposure to the auction process and the unexpected things that can occur. For those who are too time-poor to get first hand auction witnessing experiencing, this show is great.
Areas to be weary of: Being hosted by an actor and not a property expert (the actor was chosen because he is famous for starring in films focused around the emotional importance of property ownership), the show lacks the much-needed stats, numbers and return on investment summaries that other programs usually provide, making it a little bit vague.
Number 5 – The Block (Australia)
Concept/Synopsis: Running for over 10 years in Australia, this is a reality entertainment program focused on four competing couples renovating stripped-down properties, often located in a blue-chip/prestige urban suburb. The contestants then must complete one room renovation per. At the conclusion, all properties are sold at an auction, with the couple with the highest profit declared the winners.
Why it is entertaining: The ‘mad rush till the last minute’ nature of the program really adds heightened emotion, and some excellent editing makes the program very entertaining for this reason. The contestant couples are selected carefully, and most are enjoyable to watch over a season of the program.
Why I like it: From an investment perspective, I actually enjoy the program more for the things it teaches me not to do as opposed for the tools it may teach me to do. The most glaringly obvious mistake most contestants make is when they overcapitalise on their renovations. But then, these renovations are not being made as part of a buy and hold strategy, these high-end renos are designed for ‘wow factor’ to appeal to the top-end owner-occupier would-be purchaser!
Areas to be weary of: In most years of its run, The Block had selected the city/suburb that was in a rising market at the time of planning, meaning that about six months later, when renovations were complete and the apartments were auctioned off for sale, the profit margins made were regarded as “awesome”. The program editing would have you believe that all profits were attributed purely to the efforts of the contestants in renovating them.
Where you can access it: The Block runs almost annually, and is coming up to its 2013 season premiere. It’ll be on during most weekends on the Channel 9 network. Previous seasons have been made available for purchase on DVD from specialty outlets and JB Hi-Fi/department stores. The next series returns to Channel 9 Monday, February 4.