The Block feat

Pop CultureAugust 16, 2016

How The Block NZ’s live auctions perfectly illustrated Auckland’s housing crisis

The Block feat

The Block NZ held its most profitable auctions over the weekend. But while the four teams celebrated their record-breaking profits, Madeleine Chapman saw a housing crisis in action.

There’s nothing like a bit of reality television to take your mind off the fact that you may never be able to afford your own home in Auckland. Luckily, The Block NZ live auctions on Sunday served not only as great television, but as a friendly reminder that a three bedroom townhouse in Meadowbank costs around $1,600,000.

Sam and Emmett made the most profit and pocketed a cool $480,000 in total winnings. But there were no losers. Unlike when Rachel and Tyson made exactly $0 profit in season one, or when Quinn and Ben got only $10,000 after three months of renovating in season three, this season the lowest profit margin was $150,000. The cheapest sale was $1.32m.

Were the teams that much better at renovating than those in previous seasons? I doubt it. But nowadays, if your house has four walls and a roof, you’re going to be making a profit. My hope is that one day a team will forgo all the fancy design and decorating, pocket their leftover budget, and laugh as their house still sells for an exorbitant price.

It was like watching MTV’s Cribs, a once-popular show that took regular people like you and me through the multi-million dollar mansions of the rich and famous. Except this time it took regular people like you and me through the regular houses down the road – that also just so happen to cost over a million dollars.

Here’s a green screen studio in 50 Cent’s house in 2005.


And here’s a mounted wall heater in a house on The Block NZ in 2016.

the block

Both are luxuries that few can afford.

The auctions themselves were a formal affair. Held at the Rendezvous Hotel in the biggest room I’ve ever seen, hundreds of potential buyers filled the seats in the hopes of soon filling the contestants’ pockets.

During one of the auctions I was closely following, a bidding war was going on between two women, one of whom was on the phone, bidding for someone else. It was tense as they outbid each other right into the $1.4m range. Everyone else had given up already. Someone got told off for only bidding once which made me laugh because that’s exactly what I had wanted to do (for the thrill, ya know?).

As the two women continued to bid, one in particular looked physically pained each time she raised the price. I knew how she felt, I often get carried away on Trade Me and end up buying two broken Nokia phones for $70.

A room filled with people who can afford a house in Auckland
A room filled with people who can afford a house in Auckland

But what was scary was the crowd. Each time she added $5,000 or $10,000 and grimaced, the crowd cheered. “Keep going!” someone yelled out, as everyone else clapped. It was the strangest form of encouragement, like she was trying to chug a beer and everyone was cheering her on. We all knew she should probably stop, but boy did we want to see her get to the end and possibly throw up.

That’s the feeling at most auctions. Someone pays way too much for a house, and everyone congratulates them while thanking God they weren’t the ones who just bought a giant mortgage. As the seasons of The Block NZ have stacked upso too have the house prices, as illustrated in this bad graph I made.


In five years the average sale price of a house on The Block has gone up by almost $600,000. That’s right, $600,000. Not only that, the suburbs that the houses are located in each year would suggest a drop in price that is clearly not there. With the 2012 season set in Takapuna, The Block has then moved to Belmont, Pt Chevalier, Sandringham and was this year in Meadowbank.

Following the trends, I can only assume that each coming season will be set further and further from central Auckland until season 10 goes to Hamilton and the houses sell for a trillion dollars each.

You might argue that buying a house on a reality TV show means you’re probably going to pay more than what the average home buyer would have to cough up for the same house. Boy, do I have some stats for you.

Shoulda bought a house on The Block in 2012
Or a house anywhere in 2012

It’s pretty clear that the house prices on The Block NZ have been indicative of the average house prices in those areas. The fact that they selling above the Rateable Value isn’t unique either. No gets to buy Auckland homes for anything like RV – unless you have some connection to The Block.

So while people from all over the country looked on, four people bought standard homes in a slightly above average suburb for well over a million dollars. What began as a DIY show to give young people a chance to renovate a house in a well-to-do neighbourhood and sell it for a pretty penny, last night became a show where two young men made half a mil off a three bedroom house in Meadowbank.

Perhaps most disturbing is the realisation that $1.3m for a three bedroom townhouse isn’t ridiculous. In fact in today’s climate, $1.3m for a fully furnished, modern living, open-plan, freehold townhouse in Meadowbank is an absolute bargain.

Click here for the rest of our coverage of The Block NZ

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