Auctions are emotionally charged events, both for sellers and buyers, and the auction of The Block houses delivered plenty of emotion as all four properties sold for well above the reserve prices.
Reflecting the appeal of the South Melbourne location, this year's properties blitzed all previous Block seasons to achieve the highest profit returns for the contestants. Brad and Lara emerged as the winners, attaining a sale price of $1,620,000 — a cool $506,000 above the $1,114,000 reserve price of their three-bedroom terrace.
Dan and Dani's terrace sold for $1,440,000 (reserve $992,000), Mike and Andrew's sold for $1,401,001 (reserve $966,000), while Dale and Sophie achieved a sale price of $1,330,000 (reserve $975,000).
The frenzied bidding and high sale prices does not surprise judge Shaynna Blaze. "The houses were in the right position, they had the right styling and had Melbourne written all over them," she says.
"Melbourne has a love affair with historic houses and people love period features. Brad and Lara did the right thing by keeping those features — that contributed to their success."
Blaze attributes Mike and Andrew's impressive result (despite having the smaller property) to their smart design.
"They had a sophisticated style going throughout the house. They made it modern while remaining respectful to the building."
This year, the renovated homes were auctioned separately onsite. More than 30 registered bidders — who registered with the four real estate agencies prior to the auction, as well as camera-shy bidders who registered online at inspectbidbuy.com — set a fast bidding pace, quickly exceeding the reserves.
The online bidders completed an auction authority form, allowing an agent to bid on their behalf at the live auction.
Judge John McGrath, CEO of McGrath Estate Agents, says the stage was set for successful auctions from the beginning.
"I was expecting strong bidding because these were the best renovated properties I've seen since The Block started, although the levels the bidding achieved surprised me in the positive," McGrath says.
The Block auctions demonstrated the power of the auction process, he adds.
"If you get the combination of elements right — the property, the marketing, the price — you can achieve an exceptional result," he says. "People saw what can happen when the auction ingredients line up. We had four good campaigns, good agents, good renovations and good sale prices."
Estate agents recommend an auction process for properties likely to appeal to a diverse group of buyers. For vendors, the benefit of an auction is that it sets a deadline for the sale — 30 days from listing to auction — motivating buyers to make a decision and encouraging competition.
But auction nerves can hit sellers as well as buyers — as Lara discovered.
"Before the auction I was so nervous I thought I was going to vomit, and as soon as it was over I was overwhelmed and did just that," she tells us. "Fortunately, it wasn't all over Scott Cam, but it was close."
Despite the overwhelming success of The Block auctions, others looking to follow their example must remember that not every property is suited to an auction.
"As a seller, you have to gauge what's happening in your local market and in your price range," McGrath says.
If you're selling a "cookie cutter" property in a soft part of the market, McGrath advises against an auction.
The key to being successful as a bidder at auctions is to arrive prepared, and steel your nerves. Calculate how much you can afford to spend before attending the auction, and whether you have room to manoeuvre beyond your wish price.
At the auction, catch the eye of the auctioneer and bid. And remember to remain externally cool, no matter how much of a nervous wreck you are on the inside.