Australia's Property Boom Is Over If The Block Is Anything To Go By

Would-be buyers and sticky beaks check out Michael and Carlene’s apartment in The Block last month before auction. Photo: Scott Barbour/Getty Images

The favourites won. Coffs Harbour siblings Simon and Shannon took out The Block Glasshouse in the ninth series of Channel 9’s home renovation show.

But if the prices paid at auction for the apartments are any guide, Australia’s overheated property market is cooling, or at least the demand for celebrity-driven housing slapped together in a hurry by amateurs is over.

After banking mega-windfalls last season, the gains made by the five contestants were far more modest in 2014, with the final three properties barely making the reserve in a shock that would leave an underquoting real estate agent mortified.

Simon and Shannan went home with $435,000 all up after their apartment sold for $1.9 million, $325,000 above reserve. That’s $15,000 more than Chris and Jenna, whose $1.5 million reserve apartment was first up and sold for $1.81 million in a come-from-behind performance only bettered by Chaz Mostert winning the Bathurst 1000 after starting last on the grid.

Despite the Summer Bay soapie feel to The Block, with Max and Karstan adding to the stress, tension and emotional investment of the day by filling up the start of last night’s two-hour finale with a waterfront wedding, all that taffeta went to waste when their apartment managed to get just $10,000 more than reserve at $1.71 million.

Toss in the $30,000 they won in challenges, which effectively reduced their reserve, and the profit was $40,000. That sort of negative gearing-style genius also managed to save Darren and Dee; and Michael and Carlene, from total embarrassment.

Dee and Darren banked $10,000 after their $1.4 million place sold for $1.38m, but $30,000 won in challenges turned that loss into a modest profit. Michael and Carlene managed after similar trick. Their $1.4 million place sold for $1.39m, the $20,000 won in challenges leaving them with a $10,000 profit too.

That’s less than $1000 a week for three months of around-the-clock work. Meriton’s Harry Triguboff need not feel threatened.

Is it a Melbourne thing? Is the city not causing the RBA as many sleepless nights as Sydney’s Chinese investor-awash market? Will Simon and Shannon now turn the Big Banana into a luxury apartment block?

Is Channel 9 happy with the ratings? That’s the only figure that really matters.

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