Mitch Edwards and Mark McKie admit they have broken one of their golden rules of house flipping to become contestants on this year’s series of The Block.
The couple, who have completed 15 projects together, usually only renovate in Sydney’s Eastern Suburbs — specifically the postcode 2011 covering Elizabeth Bay, Potts Point, Rushcutters Bay and Woolloomooloo.
“We focused on an area of Sydney where we knew there is demand — we haven’t taken a big risk and bought places in markets that we really don’t understand. If you don’t understand the market — you are in trouble,” Mark, said.
To prepare for their time on the television series, they spent time in St Kilda to gain some first-hand knowledge of the local area.
And while people say ‘St Kilda to Melbourne’ is what ‘Bondi is to Sydney’, the pair came to realise they are quite different markets.
“It may be the same proximity but Bondi has surf which changes the ball game,” Mitch said.
“St Kilda is more of a Bayside suburb but it has a real city vibe and I just didn’t think it was appropriate to do a Bondi style property there. I wanted it to have a bit of a Hollywood glam pool house feel rather than a beach house.”
The contestants this year are being challenged with the biggest renovation to date.
The sheer size of the project at defunct The Oslo Hotel, however, is something the couple admit they are not used to, coming from the Eastern Suburbs where properties are traditionally small and require less furniture.
Viewers of The Block can also expect Mark and Mitch to use pops of bright colour in their designs — even pairing up tones that traditionally are not supposed to be put together.
“I am kind of tired of beige and grey — where is the life — where is the kaboom?,” Mark said.
“Everyone can go safe and then have cream cushion and beige this or that but I’m over it.”
The couple, known as “the stylish grandads” on The Block, have been renovating homes for a profit for just over a decade. They embarked on the journey to get ahead financially soon after starting their relationship.
It is reported they have made around $3.5m during this time, excluding $560,000 in stamp duty.
But Mitch, 56 and Mark, 57, are keen to let other would-be house flippers know that not every project has been a huge financial success and the venture needs to be seen as a ‘long game’.
“We have done properties where we have done very well — but we have also had properties that haven’t done so well,” Mark said.
“Our philosophy is that we don’t go into flipping houses to always make a big killing. People like to see that you make all this money but sometimes you flip a property and you may just make $10,000 but that is $10,000 you didn’t have before.
“If that money sat in the bank, with the current interest rates, then you probably wouldn’t have made that $10,000.”
The couple believe the key to making a profit is in the buying not when the property is being sold.
They are meticulous in their budgeting and design even drawing up floor plans with furniture before purchasing any home. They admit in the early days mistakes were made and key costs such as labour were forgotten.
“If it isn’t going to work — don’t get emotional and walk away,” Mitch said.
“The budget is the big thing — if the numbers don’t add up and even if they do add up — add a bit more onto it before you decide you are going to go ahead.”