Kent-born property expert Phil Spencer has been helping house buyers on our television screens for nearly 15 years.
Alongside Kirstie Allsopp, he has presented Channel 4 hits Location Location Location and Relocation Relocation, while he currently fronts Phil Spencer: Secret Agent.
Phil is a patron of chYps, the Kent-based children’s hospice at home, which is part of EllenorLions Hospices. In 2013 he cycled 69 miles for the charity.
Next month is urging people to wear purple for Hospice Week from June 13 to 20.
Vibe caught up with Phil to pick his brains on the housing market, chYps ant the worst things he’s seen on viewings...
Why is it so important to you to support a charity like chYps?
Being told your child is seriously ill must be an incredibly scary time for all involved, but having the support of chYps must make a positive difference. It is important to me because I can see just how important it is for the families that chYps looks after.
What do you miss about living in Kent?
I was born and brought up on my parents’ farm in Kent and although I live in London, Kent will always be in my heart and my home.
I’m a country lad through and through and as much as possible my wife and I and our two boys get out of London and spend time with family on the farm.
My love of the county was also the reason why I was so keen to support a Kent charity.
Last year Phil rode 69 miles for ChYps in the Castle Ride
If you were back in your mid-20s, single, on an average wage in south east London, what would be your strategy – where would you live and would you try to buy, rent or house share?
It’s not easy but I would always encourage people to buy, because I believe in the long-term health of the property market.
We live in an island, an increasingly crowded island, we are leaving home early and getting married later and we are divorcing more often and living longer. All of this contributes to the increase in demand.
As a nation we do not build enough homes and if you look at the number of people in relation to homes, we have a massive shortfall. I would encourage everyone to get on the property ladder as soon as possible as its much better to pay off your own mortgage than someone else’s.
In terms of where I would want to buy, I would say somewhere like New Cross.
It is the kind of area that is attracting a lot of artists and creative people because of Goldsmiths University of London.
You often find that these people lead the way in making an area become cool, with quirky shops and new bars.
Looking back historically, this is what happened to places like Hoxton, Shoreditch and Chelsea.
I think New Cross has potential and is an up and coming area. And of course, I would always recommend buying anywhere in Kent.
What’s the worst thing you have been confronted with at a viewing?
Filming Secret Agent I often get confronted with an awful lot of things when visiting houses that are for sale.
Pets seem to cause a big problem, whether its smells, poo or hair.
I once viewed a kitchen which had a hole in the floor where a cat had continually urinated.
You often see dirty washing, clutter and teenagers in their dressing gowns late in the afternoon smoking dope. It’s often things that can easily be rectified by owners.
What are you working on now?
I’ve just finished a long run of Secret Agent.
One of the episodes was actually filmed in Gravesend. I’m also working on another 10 episodes of Location, Location, Location and Kirstie and I have been filming in Tunbridge Wells.
Why do you think you work so well with Kirstie?
We are very fond of one another and are great pals.
We’ve worked 15 years together on Location, Location, Location. There have been tears, but mostly triumphs, and lots of great memories as we’ve trail blazed the UK together.
We are fairly different in our approach to things and that creates some healthy competition between us.
We now have our own production company called Raise the Roof Productions.
We spend half of the year filming Location, Location, Location for Channel 4 and the other half of the year working on our own projects for our company.
It is a great privilege to work at close quarters and to have influence over one of the most important financial and emotional decision people take in their lives - choosing and buying a home.
It gives us a terrific buzz when we get it right. At the end of the day we've had a lot of shared experiences, we enjoy the work that we do and particularly enjoy doing it together.
Phil with chYps patient Cameron Edmonds at the chYps' charity carol service at Tonbridge School Chapel
How does property hunting in Australia, where you have presented Relocaton: Phil Down Under and Secret Agent Down Under, compare with property hunting in England?
Well for starters it’s a lot warmer!
The architecture over there is also very difference because there is a lot more space.
Many properties are single level and they are valued on the land plot, rather than the size of the house.
A lot of people build their own homes and many Australian properties sell at auction.
You often see buyers and neighbours outside a house on a Saturday morning auction ready to give their bid. I’m actually working on an idea for a new television programme to see if this model of buying would work over here in the UK.
It is certainly a faster and more transparent method of both buying and selling houses.
Contracts are exchanged there and then on the day, so there is no doubt or uncertainty during a conveyancing process.
Everyone is tied into the deal from day 1 so people can’t change their minds and deals can't collapse. There's lots of emotion during an auction. I think it’s pure theatre!
chYps provides end-of-life, cancer and respite care to seriously ill babies, children and young people living in north Kent and Bexley.
For more information and to find out how you can help visit www.chyps.org