Ever wondered what it’s like to be involved in a hit reality TV show? Wonder no more, as we hear from Jess & Ayden’s auctioneer, Stuart Benson.
While the cameras are rolling, these apartments are the most watched in the country, and then comes the big day, the auction.
With a lot of time, money, sweat and tears poured into the properties over many weeks, how is an auctioneer for The Block chosen, and how do they prepare?
I interviewed apartment #3 auctioneer, Stu Benson from Benson Auctions to find out.
Q. How did you get the gig as auctioneer on The Block?
A. Serendipity! Being from out of state, Ayden and Jess were asking around for agent and auctioneer recommendations. To cut a long story short, a plasterer on set follows Benson Auctions on Facebook, and put us in touch.
Q. What process did you have to go through to get the gig – if any?
A. Jess and I had an initial phone conversation during one of her first days on site. I suggested I fly down to meet them, which I did, and we all hit it off and it felt like a great fit.
Q. What are Ayden & Jess like?
A. These guys are just salt of the Earth, good people. They have an extremely close-knit circle of friends and family, and it’s been an honour to be able to become a part of that. You’d be hard pressed to find a nicer pair of people.
Q. Is there any logic or real benefit to the auction order, e.g. in going 1st, 2nd, 3rd or 4th?
A. We preferred to go after Tim and Anastasia’s auction. We shared a few potential buyers between our properties, so we wanted those who missed out on their apartment to then compete with a bit more vigour on our apartment, having just missed an opportunity.
However, host Scotty Cam had the contestants literally draw the order out of a hat, so strategy kind of goes out the window and things are left to chance… which worked out well, because we were drawn after Tim and Anastasia! That said, I think the volume of buyers is ultimately more important than the order of sale.
Q. What involvement did you have with Ayden, Jess and their realty team in the lead up to auction day?
A. I flew down to Melbourne four times throughout filming of the series so I could build rapport with Ayden and Jess, get to know the building inside and out, and just to soundboard any questions, thoughts or concerns they had around layout choices, materials or future room reveals. Similarly, I spoke almost daily with their realtor Adam Joske at Gary Peer & Associates about their inspections, market feedback and buyer interest.
Q. Is it normal for an auctioneer to have this much involvement with a vendor and realtor in the lead up to an auction?
A. Possibly not so much with interstate auctions – flying down four times certainly adds up when you throw flights, accommodation, taxis and meals into the mix! But locally, a good auctioneer is an extension of a great sales team, so there are a lot of similarities around how I approached The Block auction, and how I work with my regular clients.
Q. Did you have a game plan for the auction, or did you roll with it on the day?
A. With regards to the auction itself, we’ve seen auctioneers in previous years accept what we would consider ‘small’ incremental bidding, around the $10K mark, very early on in the auction. I declined increments under $50K until I was satisfied that the pace was slowing, and we were down to our final genuine bidders. It’s important to work with your buyers, but it’s also vital to remember why we’re there – to get our vendors, Jess and Ayden, the best possible price.
Q. What strengths of their apartment did you want to play up for buyers?
A. Apartment #3 had a very neutral palate, making it easy for a tenant or owner to simply hang some art, throw down a rug and a few cushions, and change the whole look and feel of a room. Some of the other apartments had chosen dramatic tile, wallpaper and paint choices, which of course are more cost prohibitive to change. We also had an additional parking space, occupied by the Suzuki Swift included in the sale, so that was a bonus!
Q. Having been through the experience now, would you do anything differently? And, would you do it again?
A. I can honestly say that I wouldn’t do anything differently – my job was to ensure that every buyer had the opportunity to buy on the night, and that in the auction forum I extracted every dollar available on behalf of Jess and Ayden. I feel confident I certainly did that, and would do it all again in a heartbeat!
Did you watch The Block auctions? What did you think of the sky high auction results?
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