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What it’s really like at a Block auction

By Mo Zeitouneh

The countdown is on for the highly anticipated Block auctions, where the contestants will see if all their blood, sweat and tears over 12 weeks have paid off.

Not only will the winning team walk away with $100,000, they will also pocket any of the profits that surpass their home’s reserve price.

With all five post-war homes on Charming Street, Hampton East set to go under the hammer this weekend, spoke to several previous contestants about their auction day experiences, and how the television event compares to a real life auction.

See every room reveal of the 2023 season.

Real estate agent Jesse Raeburn, who appeared on The Block in 2019 with his partner Mel Manson, said he initially approached their auction day with the attitude of just enjoying the “once in a lifetime experience”.

“We went into the Block knowing that some of the houses don’t sell,” he said. “If we won money – fantastic, if we didn’t, that’s just the way it goes, it was still going to be a great experience.”

But after enduring a gruelling 12-week renovation, he said that attitude changed.

“We all wanted to win money. We’re like, ‘we’ve earned this’

Jesse and Mel’s property sold at auction for $3.378 million, bagging them $388,000 in prize money. Picture: Channel 9

“It was one of the greatest seasons. It [had] really good ratings so people obviously enjoyed watching it and so our expectations shifted by the time the auction rolled around.”

Rule 1: Don’t go last

Advised by their sales agent that the best strategy heading into auction was not being last to go under the hammer, they drew the short straw and ended up fifth in line.

However, Jesse said that was something that could not be controlled.

“Just try not to go last if possible, do whatever you can!”  Mel said.

The couple walked away with an impressive $388,000 in prize money for the three-level terrace they transformed in St Kilda’s former Oslo Hotel, but it was only enough to place them second-last behind rivals Mitch and Mark.

 “We would not be where we are right now if it wasn’t for The Block,” Mel said.

“We would get to where we are, but it would take so many more years … its life changing in every aspect.”

Kirsty and Jesse’s house sold for the highest price, but with a higher reserve, they placed second last. Picture: Channel 9

Kirsty Akers and Jesse Anderson from The Block 2021 walked away with just over $300,000 from their auction.

And while Kirsty said she had no real life auction experience to compare the day’s events to, Covid restrictions and not knowing their reserve price until they sat down with Scott Cam on the couch not long before the auction, made for a stressful experience.

“We didn’t wake up excited like we should have been because we were stressing so bad thinking: ‘What is our reserve going to be …are we going to have any hope of winning at all?’” she said.

“Our reserve was $700,000 more than all the other teams, so we kind of went into it thinking, ‘We’ve got no hope,’ and we went last.”

That was at a time when interest rates were at historical lows. Kirsty said in the current environment, she worries for the outcome of this year’s auctions.

“But in saying that, even if you do go into it and you happen to walk away with you know, $20,000 or whatever, there’s so many opportunities that come from the show afterwards,” she said.

“I think the contestants can make the most of that and just try and keep on top of things, so that they do have opportunities coming to them because it was life changing for Jesse and I.”

Melbourne father and daughter Harry and Tash also went last in the auction order. Picture: Channel 9

Coming third in The Block 2020 auctions saw Tash Pavlou and her father Harry pocket $650,000, despite their home being the last to go under the hammer.

“It is extremely nerve-wracking,” Tash recalled.

“I also remember that day being really exciting and exhilarating. This was the day that we were going to see all our hard work come to fruition.”

While Harry said prior to The Block he had sold property via auction, it was nothing compared to The Block.

“With this you are actually there with all the other couples, and also your own close family goes through the whole experience, so it’s so emotional and very, very draining and by the end of the day you’re just exhausted,” he said.

 “It’s totally, totally different, but I must admit it was exhilarating.”

The Block 2023 contestants will be aiming to break suburb records at this weekend’s auction, but will they all sell? Picture: Channel 9

As for the father and daughter duo’s words of advice for this year’s Blockheads leading into auction day, get involved with your sales agent and be there to greet your potential buyers on the day, Harry said.

“You know your home better than anyone,” he said.

“You know how good it is, you know how it was built, you know all the bits you can give that information to your potential buyers, whereas an agent doesn’t really have all that information.”

Tash agreed, and said while the renovated homes were not their own property, you could not help but become quite protective of them.

“You’ve put your blood, sweat and tears into these builds and like Dad was saying you know them better than anyone else and you want your house to go to the best possible hands as well at the end of the day,” she said.


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