Alanah Eriksen is the New Zealand Herald's deputy chief of staff

Hot house market's a bonus for show

Real estate companies are vying for the chance to market the four homes in Belmont, on Auckland's North Shore, which will be renovated on TV3's popular series The Block from Monday.

Lisa and Stewart Hampton paid $961,000 for their property. They run their business from the front rooms and live in the back. Photo / Doug Sherring
Lisa and Stewart Hampton paid $961,000 for their property. They run their business from the front rooms and live in the back. Photo / Doug Sherring

The four homes made famous by The Block last year could be worth 10 per cent more than what they sold for in today's skyrocketing market, says a real estate agent who marketed one of the properties.

The second series of the home renovation show - TV3's highest rated last year - starts on Monday and will pit four new couples competing against one another in a 10-week challenge to fix up dilapidated homes on Belmont's Lake Rd room-by-room, week-by-week.

The Herald visited the four homes from last season on the nearby Anzac Ave in Takapuna to see how they were faring a year on.

The occupants were: a single mother of three, a doctor, five flatmates and a married couple running their business from home.

The houses have all changed dramatically, with gardens re-landscaped, new colour schemes, carpet ripped out and the furniture and artwork that was used to theme the houses - many purchases verging on breaking the budgets of the contestants - sold off, put in storage or donated to charity.

One of the owners has already spent $30,000 because the house needed a "complete renovation", she said.

Some of the occupants said they disagreed with the "ugly" tastes of the contestants.

Fans of the show are still flocking to the homes to check them out, with interest recently picking up ahead of the new season.

Gary Wallace, one of the Bayleys real estate agents who sold the properties, said property prices doubled every 10 years in the sought-after areas.

"That's 10 per cent per annum across the board. Some years you might get a little bit less, but you can get a little bit more. It usually averages out.

"Given the way the market, certainly in that price range, is travelling, I wouldn't be surprised if [The Block houses] have gone up 10 per cent in the last 12 months."

The median Auckland house price has gone up $37,000 since the homes were auctioned in September - from $515,000 to $552,000 - according to Real Estate Institute figures. And it has risen $16,750 - from $775,000 to $791,750 - in the Takapuna/Milford region.

Mr Wallace marketed Taranaki couple Ginny Death and Rhys Wineera's property at 76 Anzac Ave which sold for $805,000 - $11,000 above the reserve of $794,000.

He believed the four homes went for a fair market price at the auction.

"There was media attention but the people that were coming in were fairly sensible. And from the point of negotiating and talking to people, I think they pretty much had a price in their mind and the great thing about an auction is it certainly helps you value a property.

"So I think they paid fair market value on the night. They were pretty much in line with where I estimated they'd sell."

Mr Wallace said hundreds of people turned up to the open homes and real estate agents involved in this year's show would have to work out who the serious buyers were.

"The biggest challenge for us, being an agent selling the property, was parading out all the people just interested from watching the TV show as opposed to the real buyers ... From that point of view it was a bit of a circus. But we knew that and it was just part of the deal."

Julie Christie's Eyeworks TV production company granted Bayleys the rights to market the properties last year and it is expected all the top real estate agencies will vie for the chance again.

"They were really impressed with the job we did last year so I'd like to think that we're going to be certainly on their shopping list this year," Mr Wallace said.

He usually sells homes above the $1 million mark where prices are more stable, he said.

"I think a lot of the pressure has been on that lower price point, because there's a lot more people wanting to get into the property ownership cycle so therefore you see some slightly higher premiums being paid."

The Block - hosted by former New Zealand cricketer Mark Richardson and presenter Shannon Ryan - will screen for three one-hour episodes each week on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays at 7.30pm.

Each team will keep the profit from the sale of their property on auction night (the amount it sells for over reserve).

The team whose property sells for the most over reserve are named the winners, and receive an additional $80,000.

74 Anzac Ave

Sold: $789,000
3 bed, 2 bath
1950s brick
Renovators: Wellington couple Rachel Rasch and Tyson Hill
Occupants: Single mother of three, IT consultant Kristina Clements, 42, and her three daughters Abbie, 9, Frederika, 7, Delilah, 4

A year after buying her new home, Kristina Clements still has a lot of work to do.

The single mother of three, who lives at the house with her daughters, says she's spent about $30,000 getting the property up to scratch.

It was renovated by Wellington couple Rachel Rasch and Tyson Hill, but did not sell for more than the reserve of $789,000 so they did not make a profit.

The couple struggled with their budget in the challenges - and it shows.

With the help of her retired father, Ms Clements repainted the outside of the home, changing from a grey-blue colour to an off-white.

She repainted most of the walls inside, adding a feature wall of blue patterned wallpaper in the living room, and ripped up the carpet.

One of her girls' rooms had been designed for a boy so she repainted it pink.

She completely renovated her en suite, moving the toilet so it was hidden behind the vanity, replacing the small corner shower with an open double shower and replacing wooden floor boards with tiles.

She also repainted her room, installed venetian blinds and re-landscaped the garden.
"They'd just crammed in a lot of plants and it would soon get overgrown," she said.

Ms Clements sold or gave to charity much of the furniture, which was bought from an op-shop.

She wants to stain the deck and add a fence to create more privacy between her and her neighbour.

But she does love the flow and location of the house.

The family had been living in an apartment in Takapuna and were looking to buy a house while The Block was screening. Ms Clements' daughters were avid fans of the show and pleaded with her to take them to the open home.

She also bid on 80 Anzac Ave but says she is pleased she won the auction for 74 instead.
Renovator Rachel Rasch became pregnant during the filming of the show and she and Tyson Hill welcomed a baby girl in May.

76 Anzac Ave

Sold: $870,000
3 bed, 2 bath
1940s weatherboard
Renovators: Hamilton couple Sarah Adams and Richard Boobyer
Occupant: North Shore doctor Lize Upton, 34

One of the first things Lize Upton did when she moved into 76 Anzac Ave was rip out a massive palm tree at the front of the property.

The South African emergency doctor bought the home for $870,000, which was $64,000 above the reserve of $806,000, meaning renovating couple Sarah Adams and Richard Boobyer came second in the competition as they made the second-highest profit.

The couple upset neighbours during filming when they planted a large palm tree in their front yard. Competing teams said it was "hideous" and would block their sun, and threatened to poison it overnight.

Dr Upton said the tree appeared to be sitting on an angle.

"One night, it was a bit windy and I thought, 'I wonder if the tree is still standing?' I was a bit scared."

The 34-year-old re-landscaped the front garden, ripping out bark, plants, stones and wood and replacing them with grass.

She replaced outdoor furniture with her own and added pot plants and an extra step to the deck.

She replaced the kitchen wallpaper and sold all the furniture in the house on Trade Me.

"I've only just started being able to enjoy the house. It took about six months to get settled, get rid of all the furniture I didn't want and get my stuff in, and change the garden."

While the show was screening, Dr Upton was looking to upgrade from her Milford unit.
"I lived in the area and just drove past one day and said, 'Oh, look at those houses.' I didn't even watch the show. They had an open day in the morning so a friend and I just popped in and I thought, 'Okay'.

"The location is the thing I liked the most - close to the beach, the shops, the movies, the restaurants."

Sarah Adams and Richard Boobyer have renovated another home, in Hamilton, and are selling it.

78 Anzac Ave

Sold: $961,000
3 bed, 2 bath
1950s brick
Renovators: Auckland brother and sister Libby and Ben Crawford
Occupants: Married couple Stewart and Lisa Hampton

It was billed as a family home with "a holiday bach-like feel in the ultimate urban escape".
But 78 Anzac Ave now looks more like a home and office.

Brother and sister renovation team Libby and Ben Crawford won The Block last year after the Hamptons paid $961,000 for the house - $157,000 above the $804,000 reserve. It was the biggest profit among the four homes.

As soon as the couple moved in, they pulled all the furniture out of two of the three bedrooms and replaced it with office furniture.

They run their business Accounting 4 Rentals Ltd from the rooms at the front of the property, and sleep in a back bedroom.

"The front offices have all the sun all day so it works well," Mrs Hampton said.

"You see people coming in off the street and there's lots of parking out the back. It's such a good spot here, it's so handy to everything. That's the best thing about it really, its location."

The couple have also moved in a lot of their own furniture and replaced some artwork.
Mrs Hampton, 48, and her husband, 50, moved from their home in Milford, where they also ran their business, and now rent out that property.

They are happy living and working in Anzac Ave, but have thought about renting out the house.

"We can work from anywhere," Mrs Hampton said. "We're open to different ideas and things."

She said fans of the show often walked or drove past the home to "have a nosey".

"It's amazing that a year on, the interest is still there and lately we have noticed that people are stopping and peering in again. They did it an awful lot when we moved here. It's in people's minds again with the new season starting."

Libby and Ben have started their own graphic design, marketing and branding business with the profits of their sale.

80 Anzac Ave

Sold: $805,000
3 bed, 2 bath
1940s brick
Renovators: Taranaki couple Ginny Death and Rhys Wineera
Occupants: Five flatmates.

The home at 80 Anzac Ave may just be the nicest rental property on the North Shore.
Five friends live in the house and are the envy of all their mates when they tell them it's famous.

The home was bought by a former colleague of 26-year-old Dave Fussell; they worked together at a bank in central Auckland. The owner is now travelling overseas.

Mr Fussell lives at the home with his partner, Leigh McDonald, 25, as well as Rebecca Nelson, 25, and her boyfriend Todd Lambie, 26, and their friend Sam Stewart, 26

The rent works out to be about $200 a room.

The property was renovated by Taranaki couple Ginny Death and Rhys Wineera, who made a profit of $11,000 on the reserve of $794,000.

The home has several things the group say they wouldn't have included had they been renovating.

A large plywood feature wall "is ugly and sticks out too much", they say, and the garden was over-planted.

When the fivesome moved in, they pulled out all the bedroom furniture - including the master bedroom headboard, which Ms Death had described as her "best buy" - and brought in their own.

Mr Fussell and Ms McDonald were travelling last year when the show was screening so missed the episodes.

"When we tell people where [we] live, they're really excited," Ms McDonald said.

After the show, Ginny Death and Rhys Wineera bought and renovated a three-double-bedroom weatherboard home in Frankleigh Park, New Plymouth.

- NZ Herald

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