Renovating for your demographic

What The Block can teach us by Greville Pabst, property expert and buyer’s jury judge on The Block

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Greville Pabst, CEO and executive chairman of WBP Group, and buyer's jury judge on Channel 9's The Block
Greville Pabst, CEO and executive chairman of WBP Group, and buyer's jury judge on Channel 9's The Block

Greville Pabst, CEO and executive chairman of WBP Group, and buyer’s jury judge on Channel 9’s The Block, says it’s important to know your demographic when renovating to ensure you appeal to your most important audience – the buyer. 

Over the years I’ve given advice and feedback to contestants on The Block to ensure they are renovating to their demographic and considering attributes that will add value come auction day. Many renovators make the mistake of overcapitalising and spending too much in areas where they will not get the return when they sell.

Even if you’re not planning on selling straight away, it pays to plan for the future when considering your renovation plans.

So, what should you think about?

Know your market

Before launching into a renovation it’s important to stand back, do some research on your area and think about who will potentially live there, for example are they downsizers or young families. And also think about who your buyers are, whether they’re investors or owner-occupiers. If you’re in a family area, a renovation should be approached with children in mind. Pay special attention to the kitchen and living rooms, the backyard, and make sure there is a good flow through the house. Ronnie and Georgia have done this well by creating an open plan kitchen, living and dining area – it’s a large space with a nice flow that is perfect for a family.


Certain attributes are expected in certain areas, for example a pool in Brighton is expected and people are willing to pay for that, but further out in the suburbs, people don’t expect it and it might not add any value. Four out of five contestants on this season of The Block have gone with pools, which will appeal to families and add value on auction day. If you’re in an area with more young professionals, perhaps a study is more important than a third bathroom. Josh and Elyse are the only couple who have a proper study in their house. A home office trumps an extra living area any day in today’s market, as many professionals work from home.

Greville Pabst with Domain’s Alice Stolz
Greville Pabst with Domain’s Alice Stolz

The all-important layout 

A functional floorplan is so important as this impacts whether the property is going to be sold or which tenant wants to rent it. In many older houses, bathrooms and toilets tend to be out the back but that’s not functional or practical anymore. Common problems with layout include not placing the living and kitchen areas – where people spend the most time – on the northern side of the building that gets the sun, having the kitchen tucked away in a separate room, or having a bathroom that comes off the kitchen, not the hallway. Overall, it’s about creating a good flow with an abundance of natural light throughout the home. Jason and Sarah’s wide hallway and cathedral ceiling draws in the natural light which will appeal to buyers.

Cost effective updates

Again, consider your area and ensure you don’t overcapitalise based on the values of properties in your area. The most important advice, and what The Block contestants have done well, is to retain original features of the home, for example cornices and original stained-glass windows. These updates, combined with modern touches, will be what buyers expect for properties of this callibre. I always say that kitchens, bathrooms and outdoor living areas sell houses so keep that in mind when renovating. And updates can be made to these spaces without blowing your budget. Sometimes it’s simply a coat of white paint or new tapware and fixtures that make all the difference. Other cost friendly updates include polishing timber floors, updating light fittings, replacing door and drawer handles, painting the home’s exterior, and landscaping.

PropertyDuo by WBP Group gives home buyers and sellers the advice they need to make informed decisions. Don’t risk a guess, chat to one of their trusted associates to the get the information you need before starting your property journey. 

Written by Greville Pabst
October 06, 2017