A. Read the text and do the exercises after it
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 then 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 soon.
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.
Tasks to the Text
Task 1. Make up questions to which the following sentences might be the answers:
1. Usually an estate agent charges between 1% – 2% of the selling price of the property for his services.
2. The ad (advertisement) will describe the house in detail, describing the position, number and sizes of its rooms, the garden and so on.
3. Then Mr. and Mrs. Smith will wait for prospective buyers to arrive.
4. If the Johnsons are attracted by the d4escription of the Smiths’ house, they will visit the property to look at it.
5. The offer will be slightly less than the official asking price.
6. Many British people save their money with a building society, which pays them interest.
7. The society will inspect the house to see if it is worth the money they are being asked to lend.
8. Johnson can move in when the papers are signed and the money is paid to the Smiths or their solicitor.
9. Over the 25 years, the Johnsons, because of the interest on the loan, will pay far more than the original price of the house.
10. They can afford to buy a house because they pay the money back in fairly small sums once a month.
Task 2. Match the words and phrases in column A with those in column B.
Task 3. Imagine you have enough money to buy a house. Say what formalities you will have to go through with a real estate agency in your country. What house would you prefer?
TASKS FOR DISCUSSION
A. Read the following advertisements about selling houses. Choose a house for yourself. Justify your choice.