SAFER THAN HOUSES
The secrets to Lifestyle’s Selling Houses as it celebrates 10 years on air
Two years into a new life in Australia, English-born Andrew Winter got the kind of phone call every aspiring celebrity dreams about. The real estate expert, who had shifted his family to Queensland for the sunshine and property potential, had been the host of a UK television show, Selling Houses, and producers here wanted him for a local version. “They just phoned me up one day and said ‘hello, I gather you’re now living in Australia’ and I said ‘yes’ and they said, ‘we’d like to do an Australian version (of Selling Houses), would you like to work on it’ and I said, ‘yes please’ and that was that.” That was 10 years ago and without even auditioning, Winter took the lead on one of the most successful and popular shows on Foxtel’s Lifestyle channel. An eccentric presenter, whose wry wit and fondness for sarcasm can polarise viewers, Winter (pictured right with Shayna Blaze and Charlie Albone), recalls the next two parts of that original puzzle weren’t quite the right fit – at least for him, he says in jest. “Foxtel wanted to do the same (UK) format but they didn’t want to do it the same, which I thought was brilliant. They immediately tweaked it, unfortunately by getting Charlie (landscape designer) and Shaynna (interior design specialist) to share my limelight. In Britain, I used to host it mostly on my own, I didn’t want those two stealing my thunder.” Of course, while he jokes about the trio, the combination has been award-winning: taking on unsellable properties, making them over with a limited budget and putting their handiwork to the auction test. Over the decade, the show has tackled everything from dilapidated farm houses to pricey city pads in need of a polish. They have also reached out to needy causes, notably one family whose only real asset – their Brisbane river home –had been destroyed by the 2011 floods. There are many moments Winter takes pride in, but his favourite was the jackpot the program helped deliver for a postman and his wife who had gone against the crowd back in the 1970s to buy a coastal cottage in South Maroubra (a beachside suburb of Sydney), gambling it might deliver them a nice nest egg on retirement. With just a few extensions to the property over that time, the Selling Houses Australia team got what Winter describes as the “grotty little cottage” ready for sale and stunned its owners when it sold for $3 million. “They were able to pay off their kids’ mortgages and buy a flat for retirement and an RV (motor home). It was an incredible story. No greed, no nothing, purely they made the right decision, at the right time,” Winter says. For those who love Winter’s work, there’s more to come including a new season of Selling Houses and another property program which teams him with The Block judge and lifestyle star, Neale Whitaker, in another local adaptation of Canadian franchise Love It Or List It (in production now).
WATCH SELLING HOUSES AUSTRALIA, LIFESTYLE, WEDNESDAY, 8.30PM