Purchasing their dream house on the Internet nearly turned into a nightmare for Nicky and Harvey Lyons.
Nicky and Harvey decided they wanted to move from their small two-bedroomed terraced house in Liverpool to a cave in southern Turkey. ‘We had talked about moving to Turkey for ages, and wanted somewhere really interesting to live after we’d retired,’ Harvey explained. ‘As we weren’t able to travel to Turkey for long enough to go house-hunting, we decided to research our dream house on the Internet, and found loads of relevant sites. We actually first saw our new ‘cave house’ in our living-room in Liverpool, just browsing. We had looked at some fascinating properties, ranging from wooden huts to mini-castles, but we both adored the cave houses we came across!’ Having found a couple of attractive- sounding cave houses — ‘all mod cons, freshly decorated, spacious, light and airy and well-situated for shops and beaches’ — they decided they had to go and see them. However, as it turned out, they didn’t actually manage to get to Turkey as they’d had some family problems. Then, one of the caves was taken off the market for some reason, and then they were informed that some very good offers had been placed on the second one. ‘It seemed very affordable,’ said Nicky. ‘We would be getting a four-bedroom house for half of the asking price for our two-bedroom Liverpool home! It looked cool and calming. So, we decided to be rash and agreed to buy it without seeing it; thereby taking the biggest risk of our lives!’ ‘We contacted the Turkey-based agency who sent us more details and photos of the property. We were even more impressed with how it looked in the photos, so we quickly made an offer before anyone else snapped up our bargain buy. Our first offer was turned down so we immediately increased our bid and a few days later received a contract to sign. A couple of weeks later, when the sale was completed, we arranged to come out and see our new home,’ said Harvey. ‘When we first saw it for real, we were so excited. It looked like a small, attractive bungalow from the front, but the back of it was built into the hillside. We were not so excited when we went inside though — in fact, we were devastated! It was cold and damp, with no running water or electricity and the paint was peeling off the walls and ceiling. In fact it looked nothing like it did in the pictures. It turned out that the agency had used pictures taken in our neighbour’s houses to show what it could be like! We found out that there was nothing we could do about it legally. Buying a house on the Internet is not like buying a laptop — you can’t just exchange it or return it because it’s faulty!’
The cave also cost them quite a lot more than they’d agreed to pay. This was a result of all the hidden costs, such as agency fees and administration charges that they were unaware of at the time of signing the contract. As there was little choice in the matter, Nicky and Harvey decided to stay and make a go of it. ‘It was still a bargain at the price,’ said Nicky. ‘So we moved out there and spent a tough year renovating and decorating. Our new neighbours were wonderful and helped us out at every opportunity. In the end, it has worked out fabulously for us and we truly feel we now have our dream house — though it was so nearly a nightmare. We do miss our children and grandchildren, but they love coming to stay. We certainly never want to go back to the UK.’
1. Mark these sentences T (true) or F (false). Then, check your answers with a partner. Harvey and Nicky decided they wanted to spend their retirement abroad. They wanted to live in a mini-castle. They searched for suitable properties on the Internet. They made an offer on two caves that they found. They arranged to go and see the properties in person. Their first offer was accepted. They went to Turkey to see their cave before they signed the contract. They found out that the photos they’d seen weren’t actually of the cave they bought. The price they agreed on was what they finally paid. They had a lot of support from their new neighbours.
2. Find these words in the text.Try to guess their meaning. Compare your answers with a partner then check in your dictionary. 1 be taken off the market 2 asking price 3 rash 4 (be) turned down 5 devastated 6 turn out