Jargon Buster (Buying & Selling)


Advance - A mortgage loan - an additional loan is referred to as a further advance.

Architect’s Certificate - A certificate provided by an architect, which confirms their overseeing of the construction of a building. Building societies are unlikely to lend on a new-build house in the absence of either an architectðs certificate or an NHBC warranty or equivalent.

Arrangement fee - The cost that a lender applies to secure a product.



Bridging Loan / Bridging Finance - A temporary loan advanced to help somebody buy a new property before they have sold their existing one. Beware - it can prove very expensive in an uncertain market.

Buildings Insurance - Buildings insurance covers loss or damage to the physical structure of your home, for example, the roof, walls and floors. The value of you buildings insurance will be be less than the value of your home as it is the cost to rebuild alone, not the cost of purchase.

Building Regulations - The health and safety requirements that any new construction must meet.

Building Society - A mutual institution owned by its investors and borrowers that provides a range of savings and mortgages.



Charge - An interest in the ownership of a property; usually a mortgage or some other debt secured against the property.

Completion - End of the purchase process. The seller moves out, the buyer moves in and ownership is transferred once the money is paid to the seller.

Contents Insurance - Insurance against accidental damage or theft of all moveable contents, including furniture, appliances and soft furnishings.

Contract - A document that describes the agreement under which the property will change hands.

Contract Race - This occurs when two parties have made an offer on the same house, usually at the same price. The vendor will sell to whichever party exchanges contracts first. All parties must be aware that more than one contract has been issued.

Conveyancer - A person other than a solicitor who may conduct the conveyancing.

Conveyancing - The process of transferring property from one party to another, usually managed by a solicitor or a licensed conveyancer. Click here to see the buying process.

Covenant - A condition, contained within the Title Deeds or lease, that the buyer must comply with, which is usually applied to all future owners of the property. A restrictive covenant is one that prohibits the owner from doing something.



Deeds - Legal documents that show who owns a property or piece of land.

Deposit - Sum of money which the buyer puts down to secure the mortgage loan after exchange of contracts, usually 5 to 10 per cent of the purchase price.

Direct Debit - A Direct Debit is an instruction from a customer to their bank or building society to make regular payments direct from their account.

Disbursements - All the various costs for carrying out the legal work in relation to buying or remortgaging your home.



Easements - A term given to a right which someone may enjoy over another property. These can be rights of way, drainage rights, or more likely access to a neighbours land in order to carry out repairs to their own property.

Equity - The difference between the value of a property and the amount of mortgage and / or secured loans owed.

Exchange of contracts - The point at which both buying and selling parties sign their copies of the contract which are exchanged by their respective legal representatives and are legally binding. The buyer usually pays a deposit at this point and the date of completion is agreed.



Fixtures and Fittings - Non-structural items included in the purchase of a property ranging from curtains to white goods and disclosed in the fixtures and fittings list.

Flying Freehold - This can occur when first floor accommodation forming part of one freehold is located over ground floor accommodation forming part of another freehold. The first floor freeholder does not own the land beneath the property, and is then said to own a ðflying freeholdð.

Freehold - Legal title that gives you absolute ownership of the land your property is on.

Full Structural Survey - A full structural survey looks at all the main features of the property, including walls, roof, foundations, plumbing, joinery, electrical wiring, drains, and garden. 



Gas Safety Certificate - If you are a landlord letting a property equipped with gas appliances you need to understand and comply with the law relating to gas safety. If you let a property, you must make sure that pipe work, appliances and flues provided for tenants are maintained in a safe condition. 


Gazumping - When a seller pulls out of a sale after accepting an offer above the asking price. Often mistakenly used by people who have made an offer below the asking price and where a higher offer is later accepted. If you don't offer the asking price, you may lose out.

Gazundering - A tactic whereby the buyer offers less than the agreed price just before exchange of contracts, usually at the last minute.

Ground Rent - The annual fee which a leaseholder pays to a freeholder.

Guarantor - A guarantor is someone who guarantees to pay your mortgage if you can't or won't for any reason.



Home Buyers Report - This is an intermediate-level survey which is usually offered by the mortgage lender and prepared by their own surveyor. The homebuyer's report comments on the structural condition of most parts of the property that are readily accessible, but it does not involve in-depth investigation or the testing of water, drainage or heating systems.

Home Contents Insurance - A policy insuring household contents against theft and damage.

Home Envirosearch - A report on detailed flood, subsidence and land contamination history for each UK neighbourhood.



Joint Tenants - A form of ownership frequently used by couples which ensures that when one dies, the property passes automatically to the other. The alternative is Tenancy in Common.



Land Certificate - A Land Registry certificate proving ownership of a property.

Land Registry - A government organisation that holds records of all registered properties in England and Wales.

Land Registry Fee - A fee paid to the Land Registry to register your details if you have bought a property or changed mortgage lenders.

Leasehold - To be given ownership of a property but not the land it is built on. This normally requires payment of ground rent to the landlord.

Listed Building - A building which is listed as being of special historical or architectural interest, which cannot then be demolished or altered without local government consent.

Local Authority Search - A search of the local area to highlight anything that may impact on the property or surrounding area, e.g. planned road building, planning permissions etc



Maintenance Charge (or Service Charge) - The cost of repairing and maintaining external and / or internal communal parts of a building, which are then charged to the tenant or leaseholder.

Maisonette - Technically a maisonette is an apartment which is on two levels, with its own separate access. Although generally properties on two levels, with or without separate access, are sometimes referred to as maisonettes.

Mortgage Offer - Sum of money that the lender offers to lend you to pay for a property.



Negative Equity - When the value of the mortgage which is outstanding on the property, is more than the market value of the property.

NHBC - National House Building Council. A warranty scheme for new properties providing cover against major structural defects for 10 years.



Outline Planning Permission - This is planning consent which is subject to certain reserved matters, such as design, appearance and siting of proposed buildings.



Peppercorn Rent - A nominal rent where the landlord does not receive an annual payment in cash. When the owner of land or property wishes to grant a lease, he must charge a rent as an acknowledgement of the existence of the lease. Where the owner does not want to charge any rent but simply wishes to establish the lease exists, he can ask for a peppercorn each year as a token payment.

Planning Permission- The permission granted by the local planning authority (usually the local council) for any new building or engineering operations or change of use of a building if it meets the public's interest.

Private Sale - Sale of a property without the use of an estate agent.



Retention - Holding back part of a mortgage loan until any repairs to the property are satisfactorily completed.



Share of Freehold - Share of freehold means that when you buy a flat the lease on the property comes with a share of ownership of the building. Leaseholders in a block with several properties often choose to buy the freehold between them and so share of freehold gives them more control over the management of the property. It is important to remember that when purchasing a property with a share of free hold, the property is still a leasehold property.

Stamp Duty Land Tax - A tax you must pay on a property when you buy it. The duty must be paid at the point of completion.

Subject to Contract - Words to indicate that an agreement is not yet legally binding.

Survey - A thorough report on the property you are planning to buy. This can be a full structural survey, a homebuyers report or a basic mortgage valuation.

Surveyor - Person who conducts the survey.



Tenants - People living in a property on a non-ownership basis.

Tenure - A collective term which relates to the nature of the owners title to a property i.e. is it freehold or leasehold.

Title - The record of ownership of a property, the evidence of which is found in the title deeds.

Transfer Deeds - The Land Registry document that transfers legal ownership from seller to buyer.



Under Offer - A term applied to a property for which the seller has provisionally accepted the buyer's offer.

Underpinning - In construction, underpinning is the process of strengthening and stabilizing the foundation of an existing building or other structure. Underpinning may be necessary for a variety of reasons: The original foundation is simply not strong or stable enough; The usage of the structure has changed ; The properties of the soil supporting the foundation may have changed (possibly through subsidence) or were mischaracterized during design; The construction of nearby structures necessitates the excavation of soil supporting existing foundations; It is more economical, due to land price or otherwise, to work on the present structure's foundation than to build a new one.



Valuation - A valuation of the property for mortgage purposes to ensure that the property is worth the amount requested for a mortgage

Vendor - The seller of a property or piece of land
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