‘If you thought about it for 24 hours, it was sold’, say Kirstie and Phil of the fierce property market

From tackling Covid restrictions to working through a challenging market, it’s been an intense summer of filming for property maestros Phil Spencer and Kirstie Allsopp.

Kirstie Allsopp appears in a new series of Location Location Location. Picture: PA Photo/Channel 4
Kirstie Allsopp appears in a new series of Location Location Location. Picture: PA Photo/Channel 4

The industry (one of 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. Especially in our busy capital.

“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.

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“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 then people really needed our help.

Phil Spencer meets potential house buyers in Location Location Location. Picture PA Photo/Channel 4

“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 it for 24 hours, it was sold. So that was actually quite good for us.”

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, whom have worked together since the year 2000 and whom are both married with kids, are reunited today in honour of a brand-new run of their hit Channel 4 show Location, Location, Location.

Marking its 36th series, the primetime property show kicks off in south London, where the experts leave no floorboard unturned in their search for two couples dealing with the city’s eye-watering price tags.

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First up, Spencer is searching with Jess and Zac, who’ve viewed over 60 properties without success and know they need help to secure their first home together. Easier said than done with a good-sized private garden on their wish list.

Meanwhile Allsopp is with Rachel and Alan, who call themselves “the oldest first-time buyers in town”. They’re fed up paying £2,000 a month in rent and want their own home to put their stamp on.

Yet with the stakes higher than ever for first-time buyers, it’s a tricky task.

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“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’ve got 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 this as a long-term decision, buying a house, and what do you need in 18 months’ time? What do you need in five years’ time? Those are all just as valid and important.”

“I think the place that you can buy a bargain at the moment is in central London – 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… blah blah.”

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As usual, the pair – who earlier this year celebrated their success with reminiscent series, Location, Location, Location: 20 Years and Counting – 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.

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“I think everyone should do our job,” she declares. “Certainly all MPs should have to do our job.”

“It’s also deeply satisfying and still is 21 years later,” Spencer concurs. “You get introduced to somebody at the end of their tether and help them through that process and bring it to a conclusion. They’ll remember that.”

Though filming in the midst of a pandemic has certainly made the physical process tougher, Allsopp admits.

“The rules are just as strict, if not stricter now, which is maddening,” she says candidly. “I don’t understand it. We have a vaccine now. Why are the rules stricter? But they are, which is just doing my head in.”

“We worked very hard filming within the protocols to make it look like there weren’t any protocols. But we were following them,” Spencer adds. “So it took a lot of the fun out of the filming process, but actually the programme looks as smooth and as delightful as ever.”

The influx of restrictions has also meant they’re having to play catch up on their usual TV projects.

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“Things were delayed,” say the twosome, who are currently mid-way through shooting another series of Love It or List It.

“But it’s certainly made me appreciate every train journey and every plane journey,” Allsopp vows. “I’m never complaining about being in a station or an airport again as long as I live. I still don’t like being away from home, but the process, the conversation with the taxi driver, with people on the train, it’s so appreciated.”

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Well with the hit show showing no sign of letting up, it seems unlikely the round-country trips will end anytime soon?

“Well [property] is quite timeless, it’s deeply ingrained in our culture, in society and in our interest in housing and where we live,” Spencer reasons.

“Everybody lives somewhere, and lots of us want to live somewhere else. And it’s a complicated, stressful process, moving house, choosing a house, so as a topic, there’s always been a lot to kind of go at.

“So I always say if people keep watching it, we’ll keep making it,” he concludes. “But it needs to be relevant, it’s got to keep doing its job.”

“One of the most important things to remember is there are ratings!” Allsopp finishes. “If people don’t watch the show we’ll get fired. Channel 4 is not a charity.”



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