Expensive Housing

in London



afford term (3) deposit (2)
allow boom (2) commute
lease property  spend (2)
tough scour (2) couple (2)
tenet borough demand (2)
covet spur on skyrocket
escape ruthless fall in love
end up scale (3) down payment
rental intention left out in the cold
lonely stranger match-making
loan decision collaborate
wish consider homebody
ladder hunt (2) match (3)
estate share (2) prospective
agent convince investment
fussy rush off out of reach
chance average fast-paced
horrific space (2) get to know





The Browns have to get up early to commute to London: it takes three hours.

But they can’t afford a place closer in.

They’d like to buy a home, if only to escape the horrific conditions in their rental contract.

Eirin Brown: There’s a term in our lease, at the moment: We’re not allowed to have children living in the property. So if we were to have children here . . .”

Journalist: “You’re not allowed to have children here?”
Colin Brown: “No.”
Journalist: “Ooh. That’s tough.”
Mr. and Mrs. Brown: “Yeah.”

Spurred on by poor tenet protection laws, and the popularity of home owning in Britain, every weekend, Eirin and Collin scour another neighborhood in search of a place they can buy.

But the closer that they get to the London center — and as every month goes by — home prices increase.

The northeastern London borough Walthamstow has never been a highly coveted address. Until recently.

Now home prices are skyrocketing here too.

With demand high, it’s a seller’s market.

This little house would be perfect, one bedroom for the couple, and one for the children’s room.

They might fall in love with it — but then comes the price: equal to some €730,000. And a 15% down payment.

Eirin Brown: “It’s £525,000. Which is a lot! A lot, certainly for two bedrooms.”
Collin Brown: “£75,000 deposit. Yeah.”

London continues to boom: construction’s going on everywhere.

South of the Themes, 18,000 new flats are under construction as part of one large-scale project.

But most are likely to end up as luxury space for investors who have no intention of living in them.

London’s middle class, like the Browns, are left out in the cold.

Where there’s a need, there’s a potential business idea.

Emma Leicester and her partner Ian Hawthorne spent weeks developing and perfecting it.

If internet matching-making works so well for lonely hearts, why not for home buyers?

Emma Leicester, Online Platform for Property Buyers: “We can definitely offer a service to people that can collaborate together to get on the property ladder. It’s one of the reasons for coming to us anyway, is that they can’t get a loan.

So I do think we’re addressing the right problems.”

They’ve found what they hope will be a perfect match for Eirin and Collin: Javier.

Emma Leicester, Online Platform for Property Buyers: “Javier plays football. And so does Collin. So they’re very quite sporty. And Eirin is a little bit of a homebody, and is really happy to do the cooking and the cleaning.

So it really worked out quite well.”

Now, the three go house-hunting together.

But now that’s three people whose needs and wishes have to be considered. And who have to make a decision — fast.

The estate agent gives them just three minutes to look around; he’s got many more prospective buyers.

That’s three minutes to decide if the strangers will be able to share this house or not.

Soon, the three are back outside and the agent has to rush off to his next showing . . . he’ll need the decision TODAY.

London is fast-paced — and ruthless.

Eirin Brown: “The three of us bought this property together, and then in a couple of years or within a year’s time, if we decide that we’re ready to move on, and things have changed, and then we expect to sell it just as quickly.”

Javier doesn’t seem convinced.

Journalist: “Are you looking for a home or an investment?”

Javier Mitchell: “Me personally, I’d probably be looking for a home. But at the same time, I can’t really be too fussy.”

London has long been one of the world’s major financial capitals. Its real estate is in high demand, and quite often serves more as an investment than as an actual living space.

That drives prices out of reach, for all but the wealthy.

These days, a couple takes an average of 25 years to save up the down payment for a home of their own in London.

By that time, they may no longer need a children’s bedroom.

So these three will be spending their weekends house-hunting and getting to know each other.

It looks like their only chance of getting a foot on the property ladder.

*     *     *     *     *     *     *


1. The Browns’ current lifestyle is very convenient for them. Yes or no?

2. During the weekend, Collin Brown plays and watches football, while Eirin Brown cooks and cleans. True or false? Why are they doing this?

3. What is happening in London? Has it always been like this?

4. Is it easy for the Browns to buy a house in London?

5. What have Emma and Ian done? Where did they get this idea?

6. Can prospective home buyers take their time and think everything through before making a decision?

7. Will the Browns and Javier be living in the same house for the rest of their lives?

8. Why is London so expensive? Is there an irony or paradox about buying and owning homes in London?


A. Are there any problems with housing in your town or city?

B. Are houses in your town or city cheap, medium-priced or expensive? Do they vary in different parts of your city and country?

C. Are more people moving in or out of your city? Are many foreigners moving in?

D. How does housing effect different socio-economic classes of people? What strategies do they have regarding accommodation?

E. What will happen in the future?

F. What are some solutions to housing shortages or other problems?


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