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At $4m is The Block still aspirational or out of reach?

It was never meant to be property porn, but The Block homes have tipped $4m. Producers maintain it's still the Great Australian Dream.

If Luxe Listings Sydney is about millionaire’s row then The Block has always been about homes that represent the Great Australian Dream.

In its first season 2003 homes in Bondi sold for around $700,000.

Fast forward to 2021 and the property market has boomed.

Executive Producer Julian Cress tells TV Tonight he isn’t so sure the homes in Hampton, south east of Melbourne, will necessarily top those sold in Brighton 2020 which saw price tags of over $4m.

“We were in, arguably, a more expensive location last year. Although these houses are bigger, the prices that we’ll be quoting for them will be lower than last year’s. But having said that, The Block‘s always been aspirational. It was designed to be that, even when we picked the very first building on Bondi Beach.

“‘If I could live there, that would be my dream!'”

“We always wanted it to be about people dreaming ‘If I could live there, that would be my dream!’ The median price when we first started The Block was probably about $400,000 and now it’s over a million. So prices have come up a lot. I think a house of $3 million plus is as aspirational now, as it was aspirational to want to live beside Bondi Beach.

“But I don’t see the show ever doing $10 million houses unless, unless we’re on air for another 17 years!”

“The viewer of The Block wants to see renovations being done to a really high standard”

If the Nine series has painted itself into a corner of continually outdoing its previous seasons, has it also put the homes out of reach of its viewing audience -and if so is that a problem for the show?

“I think that the viewer of The Block wants to see renovations being done to a really high standard. They want to see people who’ve been given an opportunity of a lifetime to execute and to realise the best reward that they can get,” he continues.

“We’ve always chosen really aspirational places to make the show and those places are the ones where prices have increased more than everywhere else.”

Renovated homes first eclipsed $1m in only its third season, then $2m in Albert Park 2014, and $4m in Elsternwick 2017 (thanks Hughesy).

“We’re basically doing the homes that you see in Neighbours”

Cress doesn’t see the show trying to replicate ‘property porn’ titles such as Luxe Listings Sydney or Selling Sunset anytime soon. In fact the Hampton series is much closer to another Australian series.

“If we were doing homes that were selling for $5m or $6m we would be jumping that shark. But I think that doing five houses of three to four bedrooms with two car garages in a cul de sac, has been proven to be the Australian dream because Ramsay Street is in its 36th season.

“We’re basically doing the homes that you see in Neighbours,” he says.

“Bronte Court is Ramsay Street. That’s what I love about it.

“It’s like Ramsay Street except everybody’s at each others’ throats all day.”

The Block continues on Nine.

25 Responses

  1. At the start of The Block Brighton – it was promo’d as if they were renovating five different houses from five different eras. In fact, those houses were only really facades for the real dwellings out the back – which were architecturally pre-designed, and the plans handed to them on Day 1! The show suffers from it’s own success – the audience won’t readily accept a ‘dialling down’ of the houses now that we’ve seen every feature known to man in a house. Now it is purely property porn and badly produced cheating stunts (remember ‘you’re off the block!’) – I mean fine, but own it.

  2. I have never watched the show with aspirations to live in these houses. That sounds like the focus of the show is the housing market. As a viewer I am looking for a competition between renovators. That means people who do a lot of the work themselves, save the budget and create a home that is practical to live in.

    Needless to say, The Block is not that show anymore. Last year lured me with separate houses, but the season disappointed and the result highlighted the feeling that the results are manipulated.

    That bedroom does look nice, but it is not aimed at Mr and Mrs Average at all.

  3. David as part of this story I’m thankful you included the photo of Ronnie and Georgia’s bedroom reveal. Sure their walk-in broom closest..oops I meant wardrobe was a let down, but who lives in there? I’m not sure why the judges were so harsh because the bedroom itself was the best…the others were rather bland. But back to the story. I get the producers thoughts that we all can dream. But like most of the housing market in Australia it’s becoming a dream that is untouchable.

  4. I stopped watching years ago when the budget spent on bathrooms was $100k+. Very unrealistic. Normal people renovating don’t spend that much money on one room.

    Also, with season one, the couples did a lot of the actual renovation work themselves; now, there seems to be truckloads of tradies at your beckon call. While I can see the houses are now more like projects, bigger than ben hur – it kinda gets away from the original concept of seeing the couple/team renovate a house from start to finish, practically all on their own.

    1. Agree, I found those early series were far more interesting because they did so much themselves and had to go to work too. I really got invested in the 4 couples, it was replicating real life and you could relate to what they were going through. Now… I have no idea what you’d call today’s version, but I have no interest in it.

      1. Totally agree and yes – forgot the early seasons couples/teams needed to go to work during the day.
        Perhaps if this season underwhelms for the final episode, the producers should go back to the drawing board: The Block, back to basics.

        1. Love the idea and title! I’d watch a show that was truly like how the show started out, but I just can’t see that happening. I have no faith in the producers abilities to dial things down.

          1. To the producers’ credit, they need to change, shuffle and refresh the format to keep audiences engaged. As the show has clearly evolved, it has also become a cash cow for product placements and commercial arrangements. Going back to basics would cut a lot of that out and the show wouldn’t be that attractive.
            At the end of the day, channel nine would be interested in two main things: what is the profit margin return for our shareholders and does it justify the cost of show (factor in additional covid costs) that can return on the investment.

          1. Good luck for Byron Bay after the community said a strong ‘no’ to a local soapie show Byron Baes from Netflix.

            I’d like a ‘back to basics’ version, it kinda feels like a reboot which is very on trend at the moment. It would be a shorter series and more about renovating than bitching/challenges.

      2. I completely agree with you. What was once about the average home handy person giving it a go has been lost.
        I’ve watched each season and after this past week have decided it’s my last. Cheating scandals, poor workmanship and nothing particularly new mark the end for me. If the latest drama was meant as a great ratings boost- it’s worked the opposite in our house.

  5. As someone who lives in the suburb of Hampton and right on the border with Brighton, it is absolutely the case that Brighton is an up-market locale with a very high median property price. Also, the Brighton Block properties are an easy walk to the beach whereas the Hampton Block properties are further away.
    However, over the past 12 months, property prices have shot up. So it will be interesting to see if Bronte Court houses fetch $3+ million.

    1. The other thing that annoys is the constant obsession with styling as if cushions on a bed are something that anyone ever considered when buying a house. Last year, we had the laughable situation where a bathroom won for its beautiful styling ignoring the fact that the plumbing wasn’t connected.

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