You are going to read an article about buying houses. Choose the most suitable heading from the list A-I for each part (1-7) of the article. There is one extra heading which you do not need to use. There is an example at the beginning (0).
A A compact solution
B Smaller houses or longer payments?
C Mortgaged for life
D Can prices get any higher?
E A nation of homeowners
F Keeping payments down
G Risking your money
H Need for more houses
I A good investment
An Englishman’s Castle
'An Englishman's home is his castle', goes the saying and the British seem more obsessed with property than some other nations. 68% of households in the UK are owner-occupied. Even though this is not the highest in Europe — in Ireland 78% of houses are occupied by their owner and in Spain the figure is 82% — the UK stands out because of the high level of mortgage debt, with a figure of 58.8%, compared to Ireland's 29.9% and Spain's 27.4%.
The cause of high levels of borrowing are high prices. House prices have been going up in every region of Britain — with last month's increase being a record. The average house price in Britain is now more than 100,000 and is going up by £28 a day. This means that it is rising at a rate of roughly 15% to 18% a year.
The race to buy your first house is made more difficult by the shortage of housing. The government says that in the next 20 years in England nearly 4 million new households will require homes. The shortfall between supply and demand drives up prices, and make people more desperate.
Now, in some cities, desperation to own a home has sparked the invention of the 'microflat'. These small microflats have 30 sq/m of living space. The flats are factory-built and assembled one on top of the other. Richard Connor and Stuart Piercy designed the microflat because although they earn £30,000-35,000 a year, this is not enough to buy a house in London. Stuart said, 'We're trying to keep the price below £100,000 per flat, compared with average London prices of about £180,000-£190,000.'
Earlier this month, there was speculation that mortgages in the UK would double in length to 50 years, so that ordinary homebuyers could afford to pay the monthly repayments. 30-year mortgages are already available from most lenders, but if house-price inflation remains ahead of salary inflation the only way mortgages will remain affordable is by increasing the term to 30, 40 or even 50 years.
If it sounds like the property situation in this country is getting out of control, spare a thought for the Japanese. Owning a property in Japan is even more expensive. Despite near-zero interest rates, some mortgages come with terms as long as 100 years. Borrowers never in fact pay off the loan, leaving the property in the hands of bank and the mortgage in the hands of the children.
And although microflats and permanent mortgages may not please every one, this is the price that some British people may have to pay if the property market doesn't change. For young people especially, the dream of having their own 'castle' seems more distant now than it used to be.
However, things may change. House prices in London have dropped slightly in the past few weeks. It is too early to say if this is just a temporary event or the beginning of a long-term decline. Some people believe that the latter may be the case. Prices may go on dropping for a number of years.