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Exam Preparation: Housing in English-Speaking Countries

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Preparing for an IELTS, TOEFL or Cambridge ESOL exam means lots of reading practice. On your English language test you will probably be given a long text to read and then tested to see how well you have understood. Try this exam-style comprehension exercise. How many of the 10 questions can you get right?

Homes Too Pricey

Venture a guess at the following question. Among English-speaking countries, which has the least affordable homes?

You're wrong if you guessed the US, even with the housing bubble and sub-prime woes. And it's not the UK, where a housing shortage has raised prices. According to a recent survey of 227 cities around the globe, you must go south of the equator to Australia to find the priciest homes.

The report determined a city's housing market with the following guidelines. A home was categorized as "affordable" if it needed three times or less of the average family's income to purchase.

An "unaffordable" home required four times average earnings. A "seriously unaffordable" home necessitated five times a family's income. In Australia, homes in the least affordable city cost approximately 9.5 times the average family income. Sydney, Perth, and Melbourne were only a little under this figure.

Australian officials didn't offer many comments, only a general statement about the gloomy results. The high prices mean that many Australians will probably never own a home. Land rationing and excessive development costs have raised prices. Only urgent action by the government will solve the problem.

Some American cities were also included on the least affordable list, four of which were in California. America is still in the middle of the mortgage crisis, which affects the prices of homes. Yet several US cities were awarded "affordable" status, namely Dallas and Kansas City. Australia had no cities listed in the top fifty places with affordable houses.

The survey suggests that you can find affordable homes in most places, just not if you're Australian and opt to live down under.

Comprehension Questions

  1. Which country's homes are the least affordable?
  2. What does the article say about homes in the UK?
  3. How were the categories determined in the survey?
  4. According to the article, what is the reason for the problem?
  5. What does the article say about homes in the US?
  6. How many cities were involved in the survey?
  7. According to the article, how much did it cost for homes in the least affordable Australian cities?
  8. What do they high prices mean for many Australians?
  9. What will solve this problem?
  10. How many cities were listed in the top fifty places with affordable houses?

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