Kirstie Allsopp and Phil Spencer on the challenging housing market and the only place where you can buy a bargain right now
It’s been an intense summer for property maestros Phil Spencer and Kirstie Allsopp.
The housing industry – which they’ve lived and breathed for over two decades – has faced somewhat of a crisis due to the pandemic, “the most frantic they’ve seen in 25 years” in fact.
“Everywhere we went – north, south, east and west – was busy. All price brackets were busy. It was really, really crazy,” recalls Spencer, 51, who is talking via Zoom from his co-star’s Notting Hill home.
“It was hard to find houses, it was hard to do deals, it was hard to be accurate on pricing, and so that was quite tough – but people really needed our help.
“Though what did happen was that people understood the market conditions – they knew they didn’t have time to wait around,” he relays. “If you thought about [buying a house] for 24 hours, it was sold.”
Allsopp, 50, nods in agreement. “Usually with TV voiceover scripts, they’re like, ‘The market is hot, hot, hot’, and I get into this studio and I’m like, ‘It was not hot, hot, hot, let’s not exaggerate the market just for the sake of telly,” she quips. “But this year, literally, you couldn’t have exaggerated.”
The dynamic duo, who have worked together since the year 2000 and who are both married with kids, are reunited in the 36th series of their hit Channel 4 show Location, Location, Location.
“Through the summer, around the pandemic, everybody wanted outside space,” Spencer recognises. “Everybody was very mindful that they’re working from home, or they’re likely to have to continue to work from home. So that was different. That was a big topic of conversation: what would it have been like in lockdown if we bought this house or this flat? Would we have gone mad? Could we have worked from home? What does the future hold? Might we get locked down again?
“Therefore managing expectations is a really key part of what we do,” he notes. “There is always compromise – it doesn’t matter how much money you have or haven’t got, you will always make some level of adjustment.”
But there is a real danger that people only think of what they need right now, he says.
“To some degree that’s natural, but you also need to think of [buying a house] as a long-term decision. What do you need in 18 months’ time? What do you need in five years’ time? Those are all just as valid and important.”
“You can buy a bargain in central London at the moment – if you don’t want outside space,” Allsopp offers. “It’s the only place where you might be able to get something that you could add value to – but that’s not what people want while they go on talking about possibility of lockdowns in the winter.”
As usual, the pair continue to make their way around the UK to help those in need.
“I can’t tell you how rewarding it is,” Allsopp states. “It’s such a privilege to go around the country, meeting different people, understanding people’s jobs, understanding their relationships, understanding their housing needs, understanding what’s important locally.
“I think everyone should do our job,” she declares. “Certainly all MPs should have to.”
“It’s also deeply satisfying and still is 21 years later,” Spencer concurs. “You get introduced to somebody at the end of their tether, help them through that process and bring it to a conclusion. They’ll remember that.”
Location Location Location returns to Channel 4 on Tuesday, September 28
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