Dream Houses in English with Pete

Our special guest on this episode is Pete Smissen, who is the (hilarious) host of the Aussie English Podcast. There he speaks about Australian culture and history, but also teaches bucketloads of Aussie slang and expressions to ESL learners. Pete lives down under (in Australia) and enjoys photography and the great outdoors in his free time. Today, we talk to him about his dream house!


Hi, everyone, welcome back. Today we’re joined by my good friend Pete, who is from Australia. And we’re going to be talking about housing. Housing is a really fun topic. There are so many things to be said about buying a first home about what the housing market’s been like since COVID. But what is really interesting for me is talking about dream homes.

In this chat, you’ll hear so many different cool vocabulary words needed to describe houses – the exterior of houses, the interior of a house. Everything from the materials needed to make it, parts of the house, et cetera.

It’s a very fun topic of conversation for me, and I challenge all of you to think about your dream home. What would it look like? Can you describe it in English?

Before we begin, I wanted to share a few of the different terms that you’ll hear when listening to this conversation. Let’s begin with down payment.

When you go to buy a first home, or any home for that matter, you might make a down payment. A down payment is the money that you’re willing to pay at once or up front. For example, if I want to buy a house that’s worth five hundred thousand dollars, I might put fifty thousand dollars down. To put money down – that means you’re willing to give that money to whoever it is right away.

In the U.S., I often hear that first-time homeowners give a down payment or make a down payment of five to 20 percent of the house’s cost, but the amount you put down depends on a lot of different factors.

In the U.S., there are quite a few programs that exist to help people buy a first home. One is from the FHA, the Federal Housing Administration, and it’s called the FHA loan program. So basically, they insure that you can get a loan, have an affordable down payment and affordable closing costs.

And there are also programs by the United States government from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, the HUD.

One of them that’s worth noting, is the one that makes it possible for Native Americans, Alaskan Natives or Native Hawaiians to get into the housing market more easily.

The second term we have here is mortgage, right? A mortgage is the payment (on a regular basis – monthly usually) that you make in order to buy a home. In the U.S., it’s common to have a 30-year loan or a 15-year loan, and during that time frame, you pay your house off. In other words, you make your mortgage payments in order to own your home.

In this chat, you’ll hear Pete mention the term guarantor. Guarantor, or a cosigner, is someone who signs the papers, the official documents with you, and in effect, they take responsibility of your mortgage if you default on the loan. 

To default on a loan means to fail to make a payment. You fail to pay back the loan that you took out, right? We take out a loan from the bank. Or you could say that you borrowed money from a lender, someone who lends money.