Tania, Peter Starr, Rod , Monique Sasson Wakelin, Neisha...more, Clayton Smith, Josh, Scott Kennedy-Green, Waz, Matt King, Jenna
Camera-bedazzled agents need to relearn the craft of persuasion on The Block
Irrational exuberance characterised the bidding at the first two auction finales of the Channel 9 real estate renovation series The Block.
It subsequently resulted in all seven of the ensuing resales – three from the Bondi series in 2003 and all four of the Manly series in 2004 – being sold without profit.
The biggest price collapse was $670,000 reselling for $560,500 at Bondi just two years later.
For the past two series it has been the contestants who've typically gone without profit, although there's always one selling price that surprises.
It seems property buyers have increasingly and understandably not wanted to play their cards in front of the cameras.
After all, they aren't really willing participants in the television drama.
Channel 9 isn’t the poorer, because the sour conclusion of an unfulfilled auction campaign is drama of itself.
But try explaining the $72,000 over reserve paid post-auction for one of the four Richmond cottages.
And it was at a private auction.
Patience has yielded $72,000 prize money for Rod and Tania, who sold for $922,000, well above the $850,000 reserve that wasn't met at its intense weekend auction.
It sold at a Jellis Craig onsite auction on Monday evening attended by six parties, with four competing after the bidding opened at $880,000.
Jellis Craig agent Clayton Smith says just one of the interested parties had been at the weekend auction, whereas the other five had only seen the property for the first time on Monday or Tuesday.
It was bought by a Melbourne couple as an investment.
The show's winners Polly and Waz secured just $15,000 above their reserve, but also pocketed the $100,000 overall prize.
Sisters Amie and Katrina were mugs, having sold immediately after their disappointing auction at their $850,000 reserve price.
The Block's dearest offering has now also been sold by Josh and Jenna. They were offered $950,000 on the night but wise counsel meant they are holding off for something like$1 million, which they got from a Melbourne investor who emerged after Saturday night's auction.
The absence of some bidders at the auction can be attributed to the ill-timed raid by the consumer affairs department, which would have suggested to some buyers that the Block agents had been low-balling their price estimates. This was anything but the case.
Josh and Jenna's most recent land value was $500,000 plus and the building contracts for the cottages were typically $400,000 plus, along with $100,000 plus spent by the contestants.
Of course the outlay doesn’t necessarily dictate the purchase price.
And property commentator Monique Sasson Wakelin reckons when Channel 9 outlaid $3.6 million to secure four properties in a row in Richmond, the contestants were facing a significant handicap even before they picked up a hammer.
She also suggests the renovations were too sophisticated and expensive for the location.
“The rule about matching your renovation to what the market will bear in a particular location was broken.
“Even though many buyers would have liked the finished product, they didn’t like the location – and that was The (stumbling) Block."
Peter Starr and Matt King from McGrath Estate Agents marketed the property for John and Neisha’s outstanding win on The Block 2010. The apartment sold under the hammer for a bullish $1.105 million, netting them $200,000 over reserve plus $100,000 bonus as the ultimate winner.
When asked about their winning formula , McGrath’s chief auctioneer, Scott Kennedy-Green says there’s no difference between The Block auction and how he would conduct an auction on any given Saturday.
"Our success in selling John and Neisha’s was largely due to all the hardw ork and preparation by the agents before auction day.
“The ability to work with buyers at the auction by engaging them and making them feel comfortable with the process is important in selling any property and something we always focus on.”
Starr explains that right from the outset it was important not to get caught up in the excitement around the television show.
“We conducted the campaign like any other – focusing on the buyers and servicing their needs.
"All our open houses were held independently to the promotional television viewing times, so that our clients were never made to feel intimidated or part of a reality television show.
“Our buyers trusted us and when we asked them to bid, they felt comfortable following our advice.”
And that was the missing ingredient at the weekend auctions. Estate agents in the glare of the cameras just didn't appear to be approaching their intending buyers with persuasive intent.
Just because the cameras were rolling didn’t mean the buyers would act.
PS Auctions are very much about momentum, so Rod and Tania made a mistake when they opted to go last in the auction schedule. They ought to have gone first, because that's when the nerves of the buyers can often get the better of them. There's also an element of the unknown, which assists the vital tension of a good auction.
Once an auction room becomes deadened with dud results it’s a brave ask for anyone to buck the prevailing pall. It’s no coincidence that the McGrath listing in the 2010 Block was the night's first offering.
For expert commentary and analysis on lessons to be learnt from property reality TV, download our e-book Lights, Camera, Auction!
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