The 19th season of The Block may be nearing its finale, but it will leave a lasting legacy on the Australian property market, according to Domain National Managing Editor Alice Stolz.
Ms Stolz said the beauty of this season, which has seen five houses from the 1950s renovated in Hampton East, is that it has opened buyers’ eyes to how a once forgotten, ordinary brick home can be transformed.
“What I love about this season is that it has hopefully encouraged Aussies to think about those ordinary orange or blonde brick homes that many people may have once overlooked,” she said.
“They’re the types of property that are often very affordable, are littered all over Australia, and that I think many buyers have (previously) thought, ‘Oh you can’t do much there’.
“So I think it’s a great example of what you can do with an ordinary house to make it extraordinary.”
Ms Stolz said The Block contestants had a much higher budget and worked at a supercharged pace to renovate the homes, but everyday Aussies could certainly realise their home ownership dreams through buying a midcentury home, living in it and renovating it as and when their budget allowed.
“Particularly first-home buyers need to remember that it’s a long-term project,” she said.
“You’re not going to do it all in 12 weeks, but these sorts of properties can make really good buying.
“If you can think, ‘I’ll live through it for a few years, get the plans done and work out what our needs are,’ and then start renovating it bit by bit.
“So I hope it’s made the idea of home ownership possible at different levels, across people’s buying capacity.”
Ms Stolz said this season of The Block had also highlighted the rejuvenation of suburbia, with Hampton East being about 14km south-east of the Melbourne CBD.
She said for a long time, buying in the suburbs was an affordable way to buy property, before our cities evolved and an inner suburb lifestyle became much more desirable.
“I think we’d forgotten about the sleepier areas of Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth in particular, that do offer much more affordable buying,” Ms Stolz said.
Other highlights of this season for Ms Stolz include the design trends the contestants have showcased to the Australian public, such as Leah and Ash’s Psyche-Deco and Steph and Gian’s Japandi style.
“I think what’s been fascinating about this season is just how diverse the style has been,” she noted.
“Sometimes on The Block the trends can feel quite homogenised, and I think it’s been really interesting watching Steph and Gian, who have introduced Japandi, a whole new style of architecture and styling, to audiences.”
But the big question is, who will win The Block?
House 1, from Kyle and Leslie, has received the most listing views on Domain, followed by House 4 with Steph and Gian, House 2 with Leah and Ash, House 5 with Eliza and Liberty and House 3 with Kristy and Brett.
Ms Stolz said it was difficult to pick a winner, especially as each of the homes had wonderful, unique features.
She said Eliza and Liberty had a wonderful floor plan for families, but Steph and Gian’s home was beautifully styled and felt incredibly warm.
“I think House 1, Kyle and Leslie’s, also has a really lovely feel to it,” she said.
“It’s not the biggest on The Block, the most distinctive or the loudest, but there’s something about it.”
Whatever the result on auction day, Ms Stolz said they would be a true reflection of the property market.
“What I love about The Block is the auction day is really a litmus test or the ultimate reality of the property market,” she said.
“The market, at the moment, actually has quite a strong undercurrent about it after a year of such low listings.”
The Block grand finale will air Sunday November 5 at 7.00pm on Nine and 9Now.