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).


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