Glossary of Property Terms

You might hear a lot of unfamiliar words when selling or buying a property, especially if it's for the first time. Thanks to our handy glossary you can brush up on the jargon and hold your own the next time a solicitor or estate agent lays on the gobbledygook, instead of staring like a rabbit in the headlights.

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Acceptance

If you wish to accept a lender’s mortgage offer this document will need to be signed and return to the lender.


Additional Borrowing

The term used when a customer increases their borrowing to release some of the equity available in their property.


Amortisation

The gradual elimination of a liability, for example, a mortgage through regular payments over a set time period or the amount paid by way of capital or principle repayments on a loan annually.


Annual Equivalent Rate (AER)

A notional rate that is often quoted on interest paid on savings and investments. It aims to demonstrate what your interest return would be if the interest was compounded and paid annually instead of monthly (or any other period).


Annual Percentage Rate (APR)

The APR is a figure that is used to compare different mortgages. Defined by law, it includes repayments on the loan plus any fees such as booking, arrangement or redemption fees. The APR shows the true cost of borrowing, and should appear on all mortgage illustrations and quotes.


Applicant

The name given to a potential purchaser, often used by estate agents/auctioneers.


Arrangement Fee

This is a charge levied by the lender to cover the costs of administering and reserving the funds for certain types of mortgage. May be paid separately or added to the loan amount.


Auction

A means of selling a property whereby it is listed at an auction and if the property does not reach the reserve price then it is not sold. If it does then the auctioneer's hammer falls that represents an exchange of contracts and the successful bidder is legally obliged to pay a 10% deposit and sign a memorandum of sale before leaving the auction. Completion usually takes places 28 days later and the buyer is not in a position to re-negotiate any of the stipulated terms and buys the property "as seen". Structural surveys and searches would have to be made in advance by a bidder.


Bank of England Base Rate

The Bank of England Base Rate is set by the Bank of England. HSBC Tracker mortgage interest rates are linked with a margin above this Base Rate.


Beneficial Owner

Refers to a person who owns land and is entitled to it for his own benefit. Not, for instance, a trust that holds the land for the benefit of another.


Bridging Loan

Under certain circumstances, a purchaser may wish to complete the purchase of a property before his own has been sold. If necessary, lenders will advise as to whether the necessary temporary finance can be made available and the purchase can go ahead earlier. Some people use this means for a few days to enable them to move from property A to property B over a couple of days.


Booking Fee

A non-refundable fee charged on some mortgages to secure a particular mortgage deal.


Broker's Fee

The fee charged by a mortgage broker for locating the most appropriate mortgage.


Capital

The amount of money either put into buying a property or the deposit placed on a property. See 'equity'.


Capital and Interest Repayment

Your monthly payment covers the interest and also reduces the total balance outstanding.Capped Rate

The maximum interest rate you will pay on a mortgage for an allocated period of time, usually the first few years of the loan.


Charge

If a property owner uses his security in the property to service a loan, a charge is registered and certified. This entitles the lender to be regarded as a secured creditor who will be paid from the proceeds of a sale in the event of a default on the loan.


Charge Certificate

A certificate issued by the Land Registry to a lender giving evidence of the lender's charge over the property.


Collateral

Property pledged as a guarantee for the repayment of a loan.


Commission or Fee to the Estate Agent/Auctioneer

The sum of money paid to the agent, usually on completion, although legally it is payable on exchange of contracts.


Completion

The finalising of the sale when all monies are exchanged and the purchaser gains access to the property.


Completion Fee

A fee to cover the cost of electronically transferring the mortgage funds to the borrower.


Contract

Entered into by the vendor and purchaser of a property that only becomes binding upon exchange of contracts.


Contract Race

This involves two or more purchasers who want to buy the same property. Either purchaser or vendor can instigate it although usually it is the latter. The winner is the first purchaser to exchange contracts.


Conveyancing

The legal process transferring ownership from vendor to purchaser.


County Court Judgement (CCJ)

Whenever someone fails to pay for something and is subsequently taken to court, the magistrate may issue a County Court Judgement against that individual to pay the outstanding debt that will only be removed when the debt is cleared.


Covenant

A legal requirement of the owner to do, or not to do, something in relation to the property. For example; restrictions on its use, changes to its appearance.


Credit Check

The procedure by which a check is made on the credit history of a mortgage applicant, usually conducted by one of the large dedicated credit check agencies on behalf of a prospective lender. The check will include items such as credit card repayments, outstanding debts, arrears and County Court Judgements.


Credit History

A history of an individual`s open and fully repaid debts. Checking a credit history helps a lender to assess the likelihood that a prospective borrower will maintain their mortgage repayments.


Credit Rating

An assessment of a person`s likelihood of keeping up - or otherwise - on the repayments on thier loan. A credit rating is usually based on a person`s credit history.


Credit Reference Agency

A company that collects and stores financial and public records dealing with the payment history of a prospective borrower. Most lenders will employ a Credit Reference Agency to check your payment records as part of their assessment of your application.


Credit Report

A report prepared by a Credit Reference Agency and which details the credit history of an individual. The credit report will be used by a lender to help assess the applications of prospective borrowers.


Debt Service Cover Ratio (DSCR)

The ratio of net operating income to debt payments on a investment real estate. It is a popular benchmark used in the measurement of an income-producing property's ability to cover its mortgage payments. The higher this ratio is, the easier it is to borrow money for the property.


Deed

The legal document that sets out your ownership or title to a property.


Delayed Completion

Completion can take place anytime after exchange of contracts. If this takes longer than 28 days it is referred to as delayed.


Discount Rate Mortgage

A mortgage with an interest rate lower than the lender's SVR (Standard Variable Rate).


Drive By Survey

A 'survey' where the surveyor just visits the site of a property to check it exists.


Early Repayment Charge

An Early Repayment Charge (ERC) is a charge you may have to pay if you repay the whole or part of your mortgage, by paying it back early (which includes if you move to a different product or move to a different lender) during a certain period. Early repayment charges do not apply to tracker mortgages.


Easement

A legal right that a person has over a property he doesn’t own. A positive easement is a right to do something on another person’s property. A negative easement is the right to prevent the owner of the property from doing certain things.


EBITDA

Earnings before Interest, Taxes, Depreciation and Amortisation. EBITDA equates to operating revenue minus operating expenses plus other revenue.


Engrossment

The formal and final version of a document prepared by a solicitor ready for signing and sealing following agreement of the final draft between the parties.


Equitable Interest

Legal rights in a property that do not include the right to sell its legal title.


Equity

The monetary difference between a property's actual value and the mortgage held against the property.


Equity Release

The mortgage taken out on a home that is already fully owned, typically in order to make use of the capital tied up in it.


Exchange of Contracts

The stage when the buyer and seller exchange signed, binding contracts of purchase and sale. Both then become committed to complete the transaction.


Execution

Signing, sealing and delivering a deed in front of an independent witness.


Existing Liabilities

Your financial outgoings, such as loan repayments, regular fees or child maintenance before taking out a mortgage. Borrowers are obliged to disclose all such outgoings as part of the mortgage application process.


Exit Fee

A closure administration fee payable to service providers when you fully repay your mortgage.


Fee Saver Mortgage

Fee Saver means no booking fee, no completion fee. We will cover the cost of one standard valuation fee. Other fees and charges may apply including, but not limited to, legal fees, you may also be liable for any charges levied by your current lender.


First Time Buyer

Someone who is buying their first property.


Fixed Rate Mortgage

A fixed rate mortgage provides the security of fixed mortgage repayments until an agreed date, no matter what happens to interest rates.


Fixed Until

The date at which a fixed rate mortgage will expire.


Fixtures and Fittings

Any items that are included in the sale of a property, e.g. carpets, curtains, curtain rails, wall lights, cooker etc.


Flying Freehold

A flying freehold is formed when part of a freehold property overhangs a different freehold property or land.


Freehold

Absolute ownership of land.


Full Repairing and Insuring (FRI)

Refers to the lease terms obliging the tenant (as opposed to the landlord) to carry out all repairs and maintenance to the building both internally and externally. Many (but not all) leases to retail or commercial tenants are on this basis.


Gazumping

A term denoting a situation where the vendor has accepted an offer but subsequently accepts a higher offer from another purchaser.


Gazundering

A term used to denote a situation where the purchaser lowers his offer immediately prior to exchange of contracts.


Gearing

Using loaned funds to progress investments. For example, buying a house with a small deposit and the rest with a mortgage and then selling the property on at a higher price, making a profit.

Leverage is another word for gearing.


Ground Rent

Applies to Leasehold properties and is a sum paid annually to the Freeholder by the Leaseholder.


Guide Price

Usually referred to in auction catalogues. The guide prices are often subject to change and are not necessarily what the property will sell for. Sometimes the reserve price is higher than the guide price.


Home Buyer Report

A building survey which provides a more in depth report of the condition of the property.


Homebuyers Survey and Valuation (HSV)

The previous name for Home Buyer Report.


Home Mover

A person selling one property and purchasing another property.


IFA

Independent Financial Adviser.


Improvement Grant

A grant made by the local authority towards the cost of repairing or improving property.


Instruction

The term used when the estate agent is formally instructed by a property owner to market the property, usually by private treaty, in order to find a purchaser. The resulting contractual agreement confirms the terms under which the instruction is offered by the vendor and accepted by the estate agent.


Interest Calculated Daily

The interest chargeable on the outstanding mortgage balance is calculated every day rather than at the end of each week, month or year.


Interest Only

A type of mortgage where the monthly payment covers just the interest and the original capital amount borrowed remains outstanding throughout the term of the loan.


Interest Rate

This is the percentage rate at which the lender calculates the interest they charge the borrower for the mortgage.


Interest Type

Interest payable may be variable or fixed (a certain rate fixed for a given term set by the lender).


Joint Tenants (ownership)

Where two to four people own a property and each owns the whole rather than a share.


Joint Tenants (renting)

A tenancy agreement with more than one tenant's name on it. Each tenant is liable for the whole rent amount.


Key Facts Illustration (KFI)

A KFI requires all lenders to set out the details of all associated rates and fees for a mortgage product in the same format to enable customers to easily compare products.


Land Certificate

A certificate issued by the Land Registry as proof of ownership.


Land Registration

The process of registering your title to an area of land with the Land Registry, typically handled by a solicitor.


Land Registry

A Government department where details of properties with a registered title are recorded along with any charges e.g. mortgages.


Land Registry Fee

A Charge Levied by a solicitor to register ownership of an area of land with the land Registry.Lease

Ownership of property by way of a leasehold interest for a fixed term, usually with a ground rent payable annually.


Leasehold

Ownership of land, normally for a fixed period, that is subject to an annual payment of a ground rent to the owner of the freehold.


Lessor

The person/company who grants a lease i.e. the landlord.


Lien

The legal right of one person to hold the property of another as security for a debt.


Loan to Value (LTV)

The loan to value represents the percentage of the value of the property which the borrower is seeking to borrow. E.g. a £100K property with an £80K mortgage = an 80% LTV.


Local Authority Search

A check carried out by a purchaser`s conveyancer to ensure that the prospective property is not subject to any local authority issues such as road or town planning or any enforcement notices.


London Inter Bank Offered Rate (LIBOR)

The rate of interest at which banks offer to lend money to one another in the wholesale money markets in the City of London.


Lump Sum Payment

When a mortgagor makes a one-off payment to reduce the outstanding balance on their mortgage.


Maintenance Charge

The charge made, usually annually, by the landlord, to cover the costs of maintaining the property as set out in the lease.


Mortgage

A long-term loan for which property is the security.


Mortgage Deed

The document incorporating the conditions of a loan secured on a property.


Mortgagee

An entity that lends money to a borrower for the purpose of purchasing property.


Mortgage Indemnity Guarantee (MIG)

An insurance policy taken out by a lender against any loss caused by a mortgage default. MIG is typically required for loans with an LTV of 90% or higher. Also known as Mortgage Indemnity Fee and as Mortgage Indemnity Premium.


Mortgage Offer

The letter or advice from the lender offering a loan and setting out the terms and conditions upon which it is offered.


Mortgage Term

The length of time over which a mortgage is taken.


Mortgagor

The borrower and owner whose property is secured for the loan.


Multi Agency

A situation where two or more estate agents are acting on behalf of the vendor.


New Build

A building that has been built in the last 24 months which includes property bought directly from a builder or developer.


Nominal Interest Rate

An interest rate which has not been adjusted for inflation.


Non-Recoverable Expenses

Outgoings incurred by a landlord of a property which cannot be recovered from a tenant via, for example, a service charge. These may typically include property management and letting agency fees, an allowance for vacancies and rent arrears, an allowance to cover the costs of refurbishment of vacant units in order to re-let and possible certain items of maintenance cost depending upon what is referred to in the lease.


Offer

Make an offer on the purchase price with the intention of purchasing Part-Possession: The term used when a property is being sold, where a tenant has legal right of occupation.


Open Market Value (OMV)

The estimated amount for which a property should sell assuming there is a willing buyer and a willing seller involved in an arms-length transaction. This assumes there has been adequate marketing and that parties had each acted knowledgeably, prudently, and without compulsion.


Outstanding Balance

The outstanding amount owed to a lender under an existing mortgage.


Overall Cost For Comparison

See 'APR'Peppercorn Rent

A term used to denote a very small amount of ground rent.


Preliminary Enquiries

A set of questions raised by the solicitor of the purchaser and sent to the vendor via his solicitor, prior to exchange of contracts. They ask for clarification of specific points about the property that is being sold and the present vendor's ownership of it.


Private Treaty (For sale by Private Treaty)

Sale of a property by private treaty is the method employed by most estate agents, preparing descriptive details of the property and quoting a definitive asking price. Details are circulated – by post, email, website, local paper etc: potential buyers may view the property and either agree to buy at the asking price or submit an offer to purchase. Agreement to buy at this stage (for England and Wales) is subject to formal contracts being prepared and those contracts being signed and exchanged between the vendor and the purchaser.


Probate

The official process of proving the validity of a will. In many cases part of the estate will involve a property, which might need to be valued for Inheritance Tax purposes. A probate valuation is generally a negotiated value with the district valuer representing the Inland Revenue. A sale cannot proceed to exchange of contracts until probate has been granted.


Rate

The annual rate, expressed as a percentage, of interest on a loan.


Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs)

These are pooled funds allowing investors to buy into property without actually owning buildings. The funds can invest in commercial and residential property and do not pay tax on rental incomes or capital gains on properties within the fund, but the investor pays tax on dividends and unit appreciation.


Redemption Penalty

A penalty levied by the lender when the borrower pays off a mortgage.


Registered Land

Land (including buildings on it) the title to which is registered at the Land Registry and legal ownership is guaranteed.


Remortgaging

The process whereby a new mortgage replaces an old one and both use the same property as security.


Repossession

The legal procedure by which a defaulting borrower is deprived of thier interest in the mortgaged property, typically involving the forced sale of the property at public auction.


Reserve Price

Usually referred to in an auction catalogue as the minimum price at which a seller is willing to sell.


Retention

An amount held back from the initial loan by the Lender until certain repairs or improvements have been completed or in some cases to cover possible road charges on a new estate.


Right of Way

An individual's legal right to use a particular part of a property, in order to gain access to any particular part of his own property.


Searches

A term used to denote the physical and written procedure for determining any adverse effects in or on a particular property, whether already in effect or planned to take place.


Self Certification

A mortgage intended for borrowers who are unable to categorically prove their income by conventional means such as payslips and fully audited accounts, but can provide alternative evidence and thereby demonstrate the level borrowing is affordable. Typically the lender will charge higher rates of interest, or require a larger deposit.


Shared Equity

A scheme whereby a borrower purchases part of a property and the other part is purchased by a third party, such as a housing corporation. A shared equity scheme differs from shared ownership in that no ongoing rent is paid to the third party. However, any future increases to a property`s value results in the third party`s share of equity in the property increasing proportionately. In other words, a borrower does not fully benefit from future increases in a property`s value.


Sitting Tenant

To occupy the property as a tenant, and have legal rights without a lease. Any sale would be subject to any rights of a tenant who has occupation. A property with a sitting tenant can often have a much reduced asking price.


Sole Agency

Authority to sell a property lies with one agent.


Sole Selling Rights

Where one agent has complete control of the sale, and is entitled to his fee however the property is sold.Stamp Duty

Tax paid by the purchaser of a property to the Government in the UK. Currently based on the following rates:(from March 2006 Budget) Up to £125,000 – nil; £125,001 to £250,000 - 1%; £250,001 to £500,000 - 3%; more than £500,000 - 4%.


Standard Variable Rate(SVR)

An interest rate which is subject to increase or decrease at the discretion of the lender.


Structural Survey

A survey of the condition of a property, undertaken by a qualified surveyor, and for which the surveyor is responsible. A structural survey is the most detailed - and most expensive - of the property reports available. Also known as a "Building Survey".


Subject to Contract

A phrase, often seen on estate agents boards, used as a provisional agreement before contracts have been exchanged where either party may still withdraw from the transaction.


Sub-Prime Loans

Loans or mortgages given to borrowers with poor credit records who are often unable to obtain more conventional loans. Borrowers put down little or no cash themselves.


Superior Lease or Head Lease

This is the lease that the landlord holds. This is often the case in a property where the owner has the leasehold interest, but another individual owns the freehold. There is then this lease under which the Property owner is responsible for the obligations/covenants. When a property is let the tenant renting also has to comply with any of these obligations - e.g. not to hang out washing on a balcony etc.


Tenancy at Will or Licence

After contracts are exchanged a purchaser may seek to take possession of a property before financial and legal completion. This could be to carry out repairs and decorations or to take up residence early. This can often be organised and a licence arranged between both parties' solicitors. The purchaser paying an appropriate rate of interest on the balance of the outstanding monies (i.e. purchase price less deposit paid) instead of rental.


Tenant

A person or organisation who is entitled to occupy a property under the terms and conditions of a tenancy agreement.


Tenants In Common

A situation where each owner of a property owns a defined share. Used to minimise inheritance tax liabilities.


Tender – For Sale by Tender

This is the situation where the asking price is not actually stated, but offers are invited. Details of the property are prepared, circulated and advertised and the closing date for the tender is noted. In most cases the vendor will reserve the right to refuse the highest offer, thereby not being committed to sell. Offers tendered are usually opened in the presence of the vendor's solicitors, at a prescribed date and time. An acceptance of an offer by the vendor constitutes an immediate contract, and in most cases, the party tendering will have made their financial arrangements and have had a structural survey carried out in advance.


Tenure

Refers to whether a property is freehold or leasehold.


Title – Absolute

The highest form of tenure available.


Title – Abstract

A summary of title documentation used in the Conveyancing of unregistered properties to prove that the vendor has the right to sell.


Title Deeds

These are legal documents describing the rights and liabilities that are attached to the property and prove ownership of property.


Title Report

Solicitor's certificate confirming that the title of the property is acceptable. A Lender must have a Title Report before an advance cheque for the mortgage monies can be issued.


Title Search

An investigation carried out by a conveyancer or solicitor, into the history of ownership of a property. The search will check for unpaid claims, restrictions or any other problems that may effect ownership.


Tracker

A type of mortgage whereby any changes in the rate of interest charged follow exactly (`track`) another, specified, interest rate or index. Typically a tracker mortgage will track the Bank of England base rate.


Under Offer

When the vendor has accepted an offer for his home but contracts have not yet been exchanged. Either party may still withdraw from the transaction. The agent will often display a board saying "Sold subject to contract" at this point.


Underpayment

Situation where repayments are reduced so that the mortgage is not repaid by the end of the agreed term. Some mortgages (flexible mortgages) allow for a specified level of underpayment.


Unencumbered

A property that has no loans or borrowings secured on it.


Vacant Possession

The previous occupants must vacate the property before you move in, including any tenants.


Vendor

The owner of the property to be sold.


Valuation

A simple survey carried out on a property for the benefit of the lender. Because the report is carried out for the lender, if the surveyor makes a mistake you have no legal claim against him.


Yield

Refers to the financial income from an investment. The income yield on an investment is the annual dividend or interest payment, multiplied by 100 and divided by the market price.


Yield – Net

Rate of return on an investment after subtracting all expenses, such as commissions, costs of purchase, and taxes.


Yield – Gross

The return on an investment before deducting costs or losses incurred in procuring and managing the investment.

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