The difference of opinion between Kirstie Allsopp and Phil Spencer is part of the appeal of their show Love It Or List It, but a point on which the duo agree wholeheartedly is that the programme should really be called: ‘Love It Or List It But Whatever Happens Chuck Half The Stuff Out’.
‘It’s got to the point where people are paying to store clutter,’ says Kirstie. ‘So it’s no wonder they can’t make up their minds about how to improve their homes.
‘We counted 90 mugs for a family of five in one programme – and they were complaining about a lack of space!’
Property gurus: Love It Or List It’s Kirstie Allsopp and Phil Spencer share their expert advice
Kirstie and Phil are talking exclusively to the Mail before the next series begins on December 30. This will be the sixth series of the show, during which Kirstie and Phil go head to head (Kirstie on team Love It, Phil on team List It) to convince homeowners either to improve their home or sell up.
What they had not quite bargained for during filming was that a pandemic would throw everything upside down. Like most homeowners, both are worried about how Covid-19 will affect the market next year.
‘We are going to see a rise in unemployment, and that means banks will start to question what they are prepared to lend, and then it will become awkward. The perfect storm,’ says Phil.
Kirstie is not impressed by reports that on average house prices have risen by 6.5 per cent in 2020.
‘Yes, there are snippets of the country where prices have gone up, but all this tells you is that there is a greater division between the haves and the have-nots.’
So what advice do they have for first-time buyers at one end of the property ladder, and potential downsizers at the other?
‘If you can find what you want now, then go for it while mortgage rates are so low and before the stamp duty holiday ends,’ says Phil. ‘First-time buyers should remember that if you take London and the South-East out of the equation, you can get a lot for your money. We were filming in Stoke and came across a five-bedroom detached house with huge garden for £275,000.’
When it comes to downsizing, Kirstie says: ‘If you have started to think about it, do it – and do it now.
‘We meet couples all the time who say, ‘We should have downsized five years ago’. My advice is to move while you still have the energy and can enjoy it.’
L ove It Or List It – which is based on a Canadian show – first aired in 2015 and is seen as a natural spin-off of Location, Location, Location, which launched Kirstie and Phil’s TV careers in 2000 and which has featured 357 sets of house-hunters. So which is their favourite of the two?
‘Love It Or List It is a great show, but I don’t get to do the deal,’ says Phil.
‘And I’m very interested in the use of space,’ says Kirstie. ‘I love nothing more than poring over a floorplan, and so Love It Or List It gives me a huge buzz.’
When it comes to selling a home, Phil says the photographs you put online are crucial – but often estate agents use too many. ‘You want to create some intrigue with the pictures,’ he adds.
‘Less is more is a good principle. You don’t want people thinking that they’ve seen so much of a property online that they have no need to see it in person.’
One of the biggest changes in the world of property recently is the importance of fast broadband, especially now that many of us are having to work from home – in fact, a recent survey by broadband provider TalkTalk found that ‘more than half of workers expect they will never return to working five days a week in the office’.
‘I’m not saying superfast broadband will sell a home,’ says Phil. ‘But it will be a big factor in not selling it if you don’t have it.’
Kirstie and Phil have noticed how people want more from their homes now that going to an office is not such a key part of their lives.
‘The pandemic came just as commuting was becoming insufferable, and there is no question that people are going to work far more from home,’ says Phil.
‘In addition, they want fresh air, green spaces and a sense of community.’
Kirstie thinks open-plan design has had its day and that people might even start putting up walls rather than taking them down, ‘creating new spaces to reflect the extra time you spend at home’.
One of the silver linings of this ‘ghastly’ year, adds Kirstie, has been that ‘local shops have done a roaring trade and that has to be good news for villages and communities up and down the country.
‘And that’s something that should carry forward into next year.
‘It could also be the case that, because people have not been spending money on commuting or going on holidays, they will be encouraged to have a lifestyle change, which invariably means either moving home or making better use of your existing home.’
- Kirstie And Phil’s Love It Or List It begins on Wednesday, December 30 at 8pm on Channel 4.