Four renovating lessons from The Block

The Block was  a hugely popular TV show last year.the-bock-logo-may-28

Three grueling months of sleeplessness and renovations paid off handsomely for the four couples who, on the face of it, sold their terraces for substantial profits.

This will no doubt encourage a new generation of property investors to turn their hands to renovation.

But did they really make a commercial profit?

The simple answer is NO!

If you ran the renovations of The Block as a business and added stamp duty, buying and selling costs, interest for the holding period and payments for labour, there was no commercial profit in doing these renovations. 

But then we know that Reality TV is not “real life” don’t we?

Are renovations a good strategy?  

Now don’t get me wrong – I think renos are a great property investment strategy in our current flat real estate markets.

They increase the value of your property, make it more appealing to tenants, increase the rents and manufacture depreciation allowances.

But my strategy is to buy, renovate, refinance and hold for the long term.

It’s just too hard to make money out of a “buy, renovate and sell” strategy.

So where do you start?

And how do you ensure you don’t end up over-capitalising, as many investors do?

Here are four rules to follow to make the most of a “renovate-for-profit” property investment:

1.  Determine the “right” purchase price.

Buying a renovator’s delight at the right price is crucial in ensuring you are going to make some money when you finish your refurbishments.19383767 - house outline dollar

If you pay too much for your property at the outset, you will be chasing your tail trying to make the refurbishment profitable.

Start by determining what the end value of the property will be when you have completed all planned works.

You can do this by researching the value of similarly renovated properties in your area.

Once you have the end value in mind, draw up an initial project budget to calculate your approximate renovation expenses.

You should also consider getting a building and pest inspection on the property so you know exactly what you’re getting yourself into, to help plan your budget accordingly.

Now, subtract all your costs from the end value, allow for a profit margin and this will give you a fair idea of how much you can afford to pay for your property in order to make your investment financially viable.

2. Be realistic with your budget

Fact is, the job will usually cost more than you expect and take longer than you planned. calculator coin money save debt

With today’s shortage of good labour, it’s hard to get tradespeople to quote on renovation jobs.

We’ve all heard stories of how the budget blew out and the project took weeks longer than expected.

It’s never as easy as they make it look on TV.

And, funnily enough, the tradespeople never look as good as they do on the shows either.

I am yet to encounter a tradesperson wearing neatly pressed overalls!

3. Consider the type of tenant you wish to attract

Think about the type of tenants you want to lease your property to and renovate with them in mind.

Talk to your property manager to determine the predominant demographic seeking accommodation in the area and plan your renovations accordingly.

4. Don’t get personal!

Another mistake I see investors make is that they become too personal about the renovation project they are undertaking.36674385_l

Remember, you won’t be living in the place; so putting your own personality into the property is not necessarily a good idea.

If you keep things simple and the decor neutral, to simply make the property liveable and functional, you can’t go wrong.

Property renovating is not a licence to print money.

It’s hard work, if you intend to do it yourself, but it’s a great way to increase your rental returns and manufacture capital growth in our flat property markets.

Also published on Medium.

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Michael is a director of Metropole Property Strategists who create wealth for their clients through independent, unbiased property advice and advocacy. He's been voted Australia's leading property investment adviser and his opinions are regularly featured in the media. Visit

'Four renovating lessons from The Block' have 6 comments

  1. July 2, 2012 @ 10:13 am opinder singh

    Good Morning Michael,
    Where could I get hands on to your book “How to build multimillionaire property portfolio”.
    Which bookshop I could get one from.
    Thanks again


  2. July 2, 2012 @ 9:58 pm Bernie Kroczek

    Great article Michael. It is easy for people to get sucked into the hype generated by such TV shows. BTW it is easy to get hundreds of thousands over the reserve price and then claim it as an outstanding success. Just set the reserve at an unrealistically low level. Voila, success guaranteed!


    • July 3, 2012 @ 7:33 am Michael Yardney

      Bernie – you’re right
      They learned from their mistake last year and set their reserves to ensure they made the show look good – and they succeeded. But it gives the wrong impression


  3. July 2, 2012 @ 11:13 pm opinder

    Thank u sir..


  4. July 7, 2012 @ 6:23 pm Peter Z

    Spot on Michael! once all costs are factored in there would be very little profit margin left, plus i noticed the buyer of the most expensive dwelling was doing it as a publicity stunt for his business.. its all about markeing and entertainment!


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