Auctioneer Damien Cooley’s insight to The Block 2015 auction

Belinda Punshon 30 November 2015

The block 2015 interview with Damien Cooley

If you’re still buzzing after the grand finale auctions of the eleventh series of The Block, check out what Damien Cooley (who auctioned Dean and Shay’s winning penthouse) had to say about the auction atmosphere, strategies and what went on behind the scenes.

Most of us were in “Block shock” as we watched the intense, fast-paced and unpredictable auctions that unraveled on this season of the show. With each team blitzing their reserves and pocketing over $300,000 tax-free it’s safe to say that (unlike other seasons on the show) auction day was a success for the Blockheads.

We spoke with Damien Cooley from Cooley Auctions who gave us insight about the atmosphere and strategies of his auction-- including how he interacted with the registered bidders-- as well as some exclusives about his experience in auctioning Dean and Shay’s lux South Yarra penthouse, which went under the hammer for $2,300,000 (miles beyond the written $1,645,000 reserve).

Holding the Australian record for the highest sale of $23 million for a single dwelling, Cooley has appeared eight times over the show and has now conducted the winning auction on The Block six times.

ALSO READ: The Block grand finale auction results

ALSO READ: Did auction clearance rates affect The Block results?


The atmosphere of this block was absolutely electric. I mean Dean and Shay did an incredible job, a beautiful renovation, and we were really fortunate, we had the penthouse apartment, and we certainly had the best view, we had the best aspect, and we had the best elevation in the building. And in my humble opinion, we really did have the best apartment, and the best apartment that I guess was entertained by more purchases. The style really adapted to more people in the marketplace and we had lots of interest and lots of interest at the highest possible price. Ultimately selling for such a strong figure of $2,300,000 which was not only a great price for Dean and Shay but a really good price for the apartment.

It was really fast paced. The first bid that we received was, I think it was 1,650,000 and then that was from Nicole, one of the buyer's advocates. And then Frank, one of the other buyer's advocates came straight back in at about 1.8 or 1,820,000 and the bidding really took off fast. We then got to a period of circa $ 2,000,000 where it really started to slowdown. And that's for me as an auctioneer, that's where I feel that I add value. It's about making sure that I can keep the momentum going. I try and always ask for higher increments.

If I'm not getting those high increments and that was a big thing that the buyers' advocates learned from the previous series where I've asked for high increments and I've been able to get those, ultimately getting a really good price. This time, I was a lot more challenged by my bidding strategy and their bidding strategy. I needed to think on my feet, and it was really all about getting as much as I possibly could for Dean and Shay. Before I started the auction, I knew that our target was, I had to get over 2,050,000 because we knew what the other two properties had sold for.

So I was always trying to target myself selling for around 2,100,000 based knowing on where I had to get to and when it surpassed that, it was then all about well, how much further can I take this? And it really slowed down. What you didn't seen on the TV was when the bidding basically stopped at 2,285,000, and then it was all about just being able to get that purchaser who was the under bidder on our apartment to bid that extra 5,000 to then get in a call with the buyer's advocate who was bidding on behalf of her client to pay $2.3 million to me. That was a great win and ultimately, it ended up being the $15,000 that won Dean and Shay the result.

Dean and Shay's decision to be third on the order of sale was absolutely strategic. I've been really fortunate on the last three series to work with a gentleman by the name of Andrew McCann from Jellis Craig Real Estate. Andrew is really one of the best agents that I've worked with and I have worked with a number of agents doing 6,000 auctions a year for our company. We get to see a lot of good agents and a lot of agents that can certainly improve. Andrew is not one of the ones that can improve, he's exceptional and he's very measured about his approach and he's very strategic about the way that he goes about selling real estate.

Choosing to be third in the order of sale was heavily influenced by Andrew. We had a good chat about it, but it was Andrew's ultimate decision that said I think that if we go third, we're going to be able to let somebody else set the benchmark of where pricing might be. If we're able to get another auction in between there, going third was going to be the best strategic place. We did have concerns over how many buyers there would be. So for us, it was a preference of being third. If not third, maybe fourth or second. We preferred not to go first and we preferred not to go last. So third ultimately ended up being a great decision.

Yeah, we saw Dean and Shay not immediately after the auction, but once all of the auctions were finished, we had the opportunity to go upstairs up onto the top terrace and the balcony, and we had our chance to celebrate with them. A couple of quiet beers were consumed and a couple of bottles of champagne were sprayed around the place. But it was a really exciting atmosphere, and it was so pleasant that everybody made a lot of money because there had been other series that I've been involved with where contestants haven't made a lot of money. And I can tell you right now, the after party on the series where they make a lot of money, everyone's happy. On the series when no one makes a lot of money, there's usually some people that are thrilled because they've made some money and others that are really disappointed.

I felt a lot of pressure this series. A lot of pressure because I've won the series previously four times. Andrew McCann and the team at Jellis Craig and myself had been auctioning for two years prior to the series...two series prior to the series that we've just completed. So we felt a little bit of extra pressure, not only because we were auctioning the penthouse apartment but also because we were going for our third win. It was all about just doing as best result we possibly could for Dean and Shay, representing them as best as we possibly could and we knew we had a great product. We knew we had good interest and it was all about the culmination of all Andrew's hard work and Jessica's hard work that they put into the series over the course of the past five and six weeks. And it was really ultimately at the end of the day all up to the auction to get the best result.

But what you don't see on the TV is the tireless amount of work that the agents put in, and they really work hard to get the buyers positioned in the right spot, get the best out of those buyers, and to be absolutely frank, market the property in such a way that ultimately brings the best buyers to the penthouse apartment.

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