Chloe and Ben: $104,000 richer (Photo: Three)
Chloe and Ben: $104,000 richer (Photo: Three)

Pop CultureOctober 10, 2022

The Block NZ auctions were an absolute shitshow

Chloe and Ben: $104,000 richer (Photo: Three)
Chloe and Ben: $104,000 richer (Photo: Three)

It was shock o’clock on The Block last night as the four townhouses went to auction. Tara Ward recaps.

In a perfect world, everyone would win big on The Block NZ. Three long months of stress and hard work would be rewarded with a healthy profit on auction day, but last night’s pre-recorded finale of The Block NZ: Redemption reminded us that the real estate game isn’t interested in being fair. This year, four teams from previous seasons returned to redeem themselves and win big bucks, but the Orewa housing market had other ideas. Auction day began with James and Maree winning the People’s Choice Award, but it was all downhill from there.

Stacy and Adam won the right to choose the auction order, and having made no profit in their 2019 season, put themselves first to capitalise on the available buyers. Hopes were high as their auctioneer called their townhouse “biblical”, but thoughts and prayers were needed when bidding began at a low $700,000. One Ray White agent appeared to be negotiating directly with the text app on her phone, and bidding climbed painfully slowly before the auctioneer passed the property in at $1.05 million, nearly $100,000 below reserve.

Despite every effort to avoid a repeat of 2019, Stacy and Adam made no profit again, and suddenly this was the bleakest finale of The Block NZ in years. “I might put a bid in,” Adam joked, but he and Stacy were understandably devastated. This isn’t how redemption is supposed to work. The ghosts of auctions past returned to haunt them, and while this kind of outcome is always a risk with The Block NZ, nobody wanted to see it happen.

Host Mark Richardson explained that if a passed-in property gets an offer behind the scenes during the auctions, that team goes back in the running to win the grand prize of $100,000. That was little comfort for Adam and Stacy, or Quinn and Ben, who had the biggest house and the highest reserve. “Let there be light, as someone once said,” their auctioneer pronounced as he opened the bidding, but someone needed more than magical sunbeams – again, the auction failed to reach reserve. “Is this real?” Chloe asked. Last year’s record-breaking profits seemed like a cheese dream now, and the other teams were speechless.

But this wasn’t Mark Richardson’s first rodeo. He was there the night The Block NZ shat itself, and knew what he needed to say. “We’re not that far off,” he consoled Quinn and Ben. “We’re not a million miles away,” the auctioneer negotiated off camera, but we could have been wedged inside Maree and James’ laundry chute and it wouldn’t have made a difference. The buyers shook their heads. They knew how much they were prepared to pay for Ben’s curved plaster wall, and it was 50 thousand dollars less than the reserve.

The mood was as flat as Chloe and Ben’s big screen TV that rotates so you can watch TikTok videos of dogs doing funny things. The other teams were visibly shocked, but Quinn and Ben remained stoic in the face of heartbreak. This is also the second time they’ll leave The Block NZ with barely anything to show for it. “Times are tough out there right now,” host-judge Shelley Ferguson reminded us, sympathising with the buyers who could only afford to pay one million dollars for a house. Quinn said she’s gutted to have spent three months away from her children for nothing, and Shelley welled up. Bloody hell, we’re only halfway through.

Then it was Maree and James’ turn. “Rip the band aid off,” Shelley told Mark, because this was going to hurt. Maree said they knew the market would be tough, but they were still shocked when bidding stalled nearly $70,000 under reserve when a phone buyer pulled out. “All they get now is regret,” said the auctioneer, and it was hard to know who he was talking about. “We’re not too far away,” Mark told Maree and James, and after negotiations, a bid of $1,152,100 was made. That’s a full $100 profit, and at last a house was sold. “We’ve got petrol money!” Maree joked. Everyone laughed, but that won’t even fill the tank.

Finally, Team Chloe and Ben. “Let’s get this last auction out of the way,” Shelley said, willing this to be over. Chloe and Ben’s house was voted best on The Block, and they only needed $101 profit to win the grand prize. Ben made an offering to the real estate gods by vowing to shave his moustache, but like every other auction, bidding was painfully slow. The Ray White agents put their paddles over their faces; even they couldn’t bear this anymore.

“It’s not all over,” Mark said when the auction paused, because we’re never too far away. The mood was grim; the crowd had shrunk. The auctioneer returned with a bid of $1,145,000, meaning Chloe and Ben’s house sold for $4,000 over reserve. They celebrated like it was four million, though it was a long way from Tim and Arty’s $660,000 winning profit from last season. Mark announced the two passed-in houses did not sell, making Chloe and Ben the winners of The Block NZ 2022 and $104,000 richer.

“What a rollercoaster!” a relieved Ben said, stroking his moustache for the last time, but Chloe’s thoughts were with the other teams. Maree and James were gracious at having victory ripped from their grasp, but there was no escaping that this was more awkward than the time the bloke from The Feelers turned up for Dinner Wars. “I wish there could have been a better outcome for everybody,” Chloe said as she clutched the winner’s bouquet, and nobody disagreed.

For Mark Richardson, though, there was no better time to toast to redemption. The show ended by announcing the other two houses sold post-auction (teams whose houses sell after auction receive no profit – call the police, that’s a crime), and Mark popped up to call for applications for next season. Tell him he’s dreaming. After watching that emotional tumble down the property ladder, who would voluntarily put themselves through such agony? This time Mark, you really are a million miles away.

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The Block NZ: Redemption is available to stream on ThreeNow.

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