What can be learnt from The Block Pt 3.

by Alistair Helm in


This post concludes the review of the TV3 series The Block. Having examined The Block as a commercial venture and the marketing of the properties, I now conclude by looking at what lessons can be learnt for buyers and sellers from the TV series.

Lessons that homeowners can take away from the show

The series, whilst at its core, is Reality TV, it does however offer some valuable insights which could be of interest and value to buyers and sellers alike.

Starting with the principle of renovating property. This show certainly demonstrated that you can add value to a property. The key thing to remember is that the amount of value you add is proportional to the value others see in the work you do. Not all work (what you do) and how you do the work (quality and style) will be guaranteed to add value.

When it comes to the latter, the quality of work, there can be no compromise as this is very clearly seen – poor paint finish, sloppy workmanship and cheap fittings tend to show and often pose the question to prospective buyers of “if they did this where I can see it, what’s it like where I can’t”?

Another key point regarding the work you do speaks to style – too much of your own personality or unique style may end up narrowing the buyer group down to just you! – the more you reflect what other renovated homes look like in the area and in the price range, the larger the buyer group will be. The tactic here is to spend time checking out other open-homes.

In terms of marketing as was covered in the previous blog post, the skill is capturing a large audience – use online premium advertising on the main sites of Trade me and Realestate.co.nz. You may be surprised that the total incremental cost for a comprehensive online campaign is far less than a single page in any newspaper or magazine and you are far more likely to see a stronger response with more buyer interest from online. You really have to ask yourself these days – why advertise in a newspaper or magazine when almost every buyer is online and being sent daily emails for new listings – so who would wait for the Thursday or Saturday edition of a paper?

Whilst thinking about online don’t forget to use social media – your own network and your friends network – just one connection removed is a vast audience so do your own marketing – free of charge.

When it came to the auction for the Block house, in many ways this was a completely unique situation for a number of reasons.


Firstly it is almost unheard of to see 4 houses all in the same road, all next to each other, all at the same price come up for auction on the same day at the same time.

Secondly the auction itself was unique – a live auction held in front of over a million people. Auctions at the best of times are nerve racking with only 10 or 20 people attending, imagine what it must have felt like to be a bidder on the night (that partly explains the telephone bidding).

There was a very important lesson from the auction of the 4 properties though, which I think is relevant for all people looking to buy or sell. That is, there is only ever a small group of buyers for a property at a given point in time. If you look at the events of the auction night again, you will see that there were fewer bidders with each subsequent house sold, as each property sale sucked up another buyer the bidding diminished to the point where the final property of the evening only just scrapped to the reserve price.


Be aware of this when selling your house, you want a large pool of prospective buyers and what you want to avoid is too many similar houses (style, facilities, price) at the same time as this could literally suck the wind from your sails. What you have to do, is create standout; so that your property can be seen as more appealing than others on the market at the same time. I think the collective wisdom was of the view that Libby & Ben got it right in designing to meet the perfect market demand and they scored the highest price on the night, whereas some of the other designs, whilst good fodder for reality TV were not aligned to their prospective target market.

Ultimately did the buyers of those 4 properties end up paying too much, about the right price or getting a bargain? Speaking to a colleague who knows quite a bit about renting property in Takapuna, he was telling me that based on rental rates of around $900 a week even the top priced property of 78 Anzac Street selling for $961,000 was a good buy, which makes the sale of 74 Anzac Street at $798,000 a bargain.