Domain Editor Alice Stolz knows a thing or two about the Australian property market. Actually, scrap that - she knows pretty much everything there is to know about buying and selling here at home. So no wonder producers tapped her on to be The Block’s latest judge. We chat to Alice about her new role...
Tell us a little about what you’ll be doing?
I’ve been involved with The Buyers’ Jury for the past two years, but this year the producers offered me the opportunity to do a bit more. In reality, we’re actually selling houses here, and I think buyers are more discerning than ever. Agents will say this: ‘Gone are the days when a great house will sell itself.’ You have got to think about that buyer, right from the start.
And that’s where you come in?
Yes. I think what the producers realised had been a bit lacking, historically, was that the contestants were creating a space they thought would sell - but not necessarily thinking about who that buyer is; what works, and what buyers want.
And that can be harder than it sounds...
It’s important to look at what is happening in the wider market. Even though it’s a national show, what we are seeing in Melbourne is very reflective, particularly of what is happening in Sydney, and the Brisbane market. So we are trying to bring it home, and say, ‘We know you are creating amazing houses - but you need to be able to sell them.’
Will you be doing a walk-through each week?
Yes. I walk through with Shelley and Scotty every Friday, when the contestants are three quarters of the way through. But a lot can happen Friday to Sunday. When I walk through, they usually have the shell all in place, they know what they are doing - hopefully - and they are starting to get their furniture coming in. Having said that, when I go through the following week, I look back on what they did, and it’s often very different from what I was picturing.
So talk us through what’s at stake for them...
I am giving out points, so the winner each week also gets $5000 from Domain - $2,500 in cash, and $2,500 that goes towards their marketing spend on Domain. The more they put in their marketing spend, the more bells and whistles they’ll have online, and the wider the reach. The winner overall, with the highest points, will be on the cover of Domain magazine. We have an audience of two million nationally, and the past two seasons of The Block, that house that has got on the cover of Domain has gone on to win overall.
That’s a huge!
Yes, it is. We feel strongly about the power of editorial to really sell a property. You can spend a lot on a marketing campaign, which is great, but the endorsement that editorial gives anything - that’s huge.
You could say the stakes are higher than ever…
They are really high. It’s really fun doing those walk-throughs each week, and looking at who is really thinking about the bigger picture.