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Contestants, auctioneers and the underbidder say there was no dummy bidding on The Block

The Block auctioneers and the winning contestants have rubbished rumours the underbidder on Oz and Omar’s resort-like House 5 was dummy bidding to push the price of the property up.

Tom Panos, the auctioneer who dropped the hammer on the boys’ Gisborne property at $5.6 million, said anyone with experience in real estate would know underbidder Adrian Portelli was a genuine buyer.

“All of those comments about whether he was a helpful bidder are coming from people that aren’t in real estate,” he said.

“People that are in real estate know that the reserve was $4.08 million and that was on the TV, which was showing the profit.

“Dummy bidding doesn’t happen over the reserve price.”

Mr Panos said he always believed Oz and Omar’s property would win The Block, but even he was a little surprised by the final sale price, which was $5,666,666.66.

Together with the $100,000 they get for winning the show, the boys walked away with $1,686,666.66 in prize money.

“They had created a home that was both an office and a resort and also a place to live with the family,” Mr Panos said.

“It met all three needs.

“When they were doing their renos their plan was, ‘don’t build it for us, build it for what the market wants’.”

Auctioneer Tom Panos (centre) with winning contestants Oz (left) and Omar (right).

In an interview with 2DayFM’s Hughesy, Ed and Erin, Omar addressed the dummy bidding controversy and explained they had a good relationship with Mr Portelli because they worked hard to court multiple potential buyers.

“We only knew him from when he first visited our house … We met another beautiful family that we got very close to,” Omar said.

“They came to the house a few times; we took them to the basketball as well. Everyone who was a potential buyer, we really gave up our time for them.

“Everyone who wants to sell a house, they want to sell it for the best profit.”

Mr Portelli, who was dubbed ‘Lambo guy’ due to the car he arrived in, also addressed the rumours on social media on Sunday night after the auction episode aired. 

“For everyone questioning the legitimacy of the auction, I was a genuine buyer with every intention to purchase that property,” he wrote in an Instagram post.

“Nobody is to blame for what happened. It’s an auction. 

“Believe it or not, but if you’ve got two people that genuinely want the property, a bidding war will commence.

“I’m happy to show my bank account to anyone that suggests these were dummy bids.”

Yesterday, Mr Portelli also told the Herald Sun he had planned to use the house as a prize in his LMCT+ business, which raffles boats, cars and houses.

“I wasn’t buying it to live in it,” he said.

“You’ve got millions of people watching this show and only 1 per cent of Australia can afford it, so why not buy the house back and give everyone the chance to win it?” he said.

Mr Panos said the auction order also helped Oz and Omar.

“Everyone thought going first was not the best spot to be in, but it ended up being the best spot,” he said.

“The reason why is that all the big money from Danny (the winning bidder) had been spent on that property.

“Afterwards he actually said to me that it was good that he bought the other one cheaper because he had to make up for the difference he paid for the first one.”

Fellow auctioneer Damien Cooley, who auctioned House 4 for Dylan and Jenny, said he didn’t see a single red flag to indicate dummy bidding on House 5’s auction.

“There was nothing like that at all,” he said.

“You don’t bid $1.5 million over reserve if you don’t have any intention of following through with it.”

“He was a genuine buyer wanting to buy that property, but didn’t have as much interest, or any interest, in the others and that absolutely makes sense to me.”

Dylan and Jenny’s home was passed in at auction despite multiple bidders registering. 

Mr Cooley said it was perplexing why they didn’t bid, but said the market had changed and had the home gone to auction even six months ago the result could have been very different.

“We had a number of registered bidders, but two of the registered bidders were supposed to be for ours and ours only, but they didn’t put their hand up for whatever reason,” he said.

“Ultimately, we didn’t get the desired result that was in the best interest of the contestants who are just absolutely lovely people.

“I feel sorry for them that they didn’t get a great result, but it is indicative of current market conditions.”

Selling agent for Dylan and Jenny’s house, Kirrily Evans from TCC Real Estate, said the property would now be marketed as a private sale, but negotiations with buyer’s agent Frank Valentic’s buyer had not progressed further at this stage.

But Ms Evans said she was confident the right buyer was out there and the home would sell.

“We’re on the largest allotment on The Block – 13.1 acres. We’ve got the largest covered decking area, we’re elevated really high and we have a beautiful, flowing home,” she said.

“We’re excited now about taking that next step.”

Sharon and Ankur’s House 3 was also passed in at auction but selling agent Sean Parker, of Macedon Range’s Sotheby’s International, said negotiations were taking place with multiple potential buyers and he was confident it would sell “sooner rather than later”.

He said those negotiations were happening in the upper end of the $4 million to $4.4 million price guide.

A former auctioneer on the The Block Stu Benson, who auctioned Jess and Ayden’s house in 2015 on The Block: Triple Threat, said he felt for the auctioneers on Sunday night’s auctions as television auctions were a lot different to regular auctions.

“It’s getting very hard to call what we’re watching on television auctions,” he said.

“An auctioneer who is skilled at his or her craft is someone who can really dictate the outcome and leverage energy and momentum, enthusiasm and excitement.

“At the moment, with people trying to get their faces and their brands on television, buyer’s advocates who are operating within very tight controls in terms of money that they’re allowed to spend, we don’t have genuine buyers representing themselves in the crowd. 

“I really do feel for these auctioneers who don’t get to use the skill set that they use day-in, day–out as a regular auctioneer on these types of shows.”

Mr Benson said it was also much harder for auctioneers to pick up on and play on the emotional ties a buyer might have to a property on TV shows.

“When you’re dealing with people with deep pockets like Danny or buyer’s agents with restrictions, it’s very hard to play on that nuance,” he said.

“Unfortunately, it doesn’t really play to the strength of an auctioneer, and we definitely saw that last night.”

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Kylie Dulhunty

Kylie Dulhunty is the Deputy Editor at Elite Agent.