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The Block: hammer falls

Property reporter Toby Johnstone attended the invite only auction. Here's his take.

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The hammer has fallen on the final episode of The Block All Stars with favourites Phil Rankine and Amity Dry taking home $295,000 profit as well the $100,000 prize money.

The couple's property sold for $1.67 million - well above the $1,375,000 reserve.

All four semis on Tasman Street, Bondi, sold at auction on Tuesday night with prices starting at $1.37 million.

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Winners: Phil Rankine and Amity Dry, who made $295,000 profit on their property, and $100,000 prize money, with fellow contestant Duncan. Photo: Danielle Smith

In line with the Sydney property recovery, the Bondi median house price has increased by 2.8 per cent to $1,393,500 in the past 12 months.

The winning property managed to sell $276,500 above the median.

Auctioneer Damien Cooley fetched the highest price on the night but is convinced that those buying properties were the real winners.

Under the hammer.

Under the hammer.

''If you look at the core investment of what was put into those houses they were good value for the purchasers,'' he said.

Mr Cooley estimates that the terraces unrenovated would have cost about $1.3 million.

Hence, at $1.37 million, the semi sold by Sydneysiders Duncan Miller and Mark Bowyer was definitely ''the buy of the night''.

The other contestants pocketed more than $200,000.

Big profits have become part of Channel Nine's winning formula.

Last year the producers switched up the auction format following a disastrous 2011 series finale when three out of four properties passed in at public auction.

They now conduct secretive in-room auctions with only registered bidders allowed to attend.

The winners last year pocketed a total of $606,000 when their South Melbourne terrace sold for $506,000 over reserve. Combined, the 2012 contestants racked up $1,743,000 in profit.

There was speculation after the 2012 series that the producers had set unrealistic reserves to ensure big profits for the season finale.

That could be why investigators from the NSW Office of Fair Trading turned up at the auctions in Bondi on Tuesday night.

Senior Investigator Steve McGuire said, ''We're here to let people know that The Block isn't out there on its own; it is monitored by the industry.''

Specifically, the officers said they looked at ''allegations of underquoting''.

The total profit of $815,000 this year was more modest than 2012.

Mr Cooley said ''one of the biggest things to come out of the results is that good quality finishes and styling has a huge impact on sale price.''

However, he warned that reality TV is far from the reality of the property market.

''People like success and the public want to see these properties sell,'' he said. ''It is obviously very important that the contestants make money so The Block continues and so people want to go on it.''