The first thing I had to do in London was to find somewhere to live, if possible a small, one-bedroom (a)__________. I didn’t want to share a kitchen or toilet; I wanted to be independent in my own (b)__________ place. I decided I could pay a (c)__________ of £ 50 a week. I couldn’t find what I wanted in the newspaper (d)__________ so I went to an (e)________. They offered me a nice place. It was in a modern (f)________ on the third floor. I had to pay the agency a (g)_________, and the (h)_________ wanted a big (i)_________ and (j)_________ from my employer and bank manager.
Buying a House
an estate agent / estate agency
to charge for one’s services
a giveaway leaflet
to inspect the details of the houses on offer
to make an offer to smb.
a building society
to save one’s money with
a savings account
to pay interest
an interest rate
a long-term loan
the official asking price
the original price of the house
Read the following passage about two types of organizations involved in house buying and selling.
Buying a House
There are two types of organizations which are central to the buying of houses and flats.
The first is the estate agent. An estate agency is, essentially, a shop which arranges for the sale of homes.
Let us imagine that Mr and Mrs Smith want to sell their house. First, they ask one or more local estate agents to visit the house and tell them how much they should be able to sell it for. They will also want to know how much the agent will charge for his services (usually between 1% and 2% of the selling price). If the Smiths are happy with his proposals, the agent will publish details of the house in the form of giveaway leaflets and possibly in the local or even national newspapers. The leaflet will describe the house in detail, describing the position, number and sizes of its rooms, the garden and so on.
Mr and Mrs Smith then wait for prospective buyers to arrive.
Imagine that Mr and Mrs Johnson want to buy a house in the same area. They go to the estate agency and inspect the details of the houses on offer. If they are attracted by the description of the Smiths’ house, they will visit the property to look at it. If they are still interested after seeing the house they may make an offer to the Smiths via the estate agent. Often the offer will be slightly less than the official asking price. If the Smiths agree, the house can be sold.
But the Johnsons probably do not have enough money to pay for the house immediately, so what do they do? They go to the second type of institution involved in house buying and selling – the building society.
A building society’s main function is to lend people like the Johnsons enough money to buy a house. Banks also offer a similar service.
Building societies make their money by borrowing money from some members of the public – their “depositors” – and lending it to others. Many British people have building society savings accounts. They save their money with a building society, which pays them interest. The society then lends this money to people who want to buy a house or flat and charges them a higher interest rate on the amount borrowed. This long-term loan is called a “mortgage”.
So Mr and Mrs Johnson go to a local building society where they will be asked a number of questions – what type of jobs do they have? How much do they earn? What are their monthly expenses? And so on. The society will also inspect the house to see if it is worth the money they are being asked to lend. All being well, it will offer to lend the Johnsons up to about 90 per cent of the price of the house, to be paid back with interest over 25 years, or sometimes less. When all is agreed and the papers signed, the money is paid to the Smiths or to their legal representative – usually a solicitor – and the Johnsons can move in.
Over the 25 years, the Johnsons, because of the interest on the loan, will pay far more than the original price of the house – but since they are paying it in fairly small sums once a month they are, at least, able to afford it.
1. What is an estate agency?
2. If Mr and Mrs Smith want to sell their house, what will they do first?
3. What will they want to know from an estate agent first?
4. What will the agent start his work with?
5. How can Mr and Mrs Johnson know about the houses on offer?
6. Can the price be negotiated?
7. Where can people get money to buy a property?
8. How do building societies function?
9. What is a mortgage?
10. What questions will Mr and Mrs Johnson be asked at a local building society and why?