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Property jargon A to Z

Read our jargon-busting glossary to understand what all these head-scratching words mean.

Will @ Nested
Property market insight

Whether you’re buying or selling a property, there is no shortage of words you’ve probably never heard before.

In this guide, we’ll untangle the jargon jungle and explain what everything means in plain English. Capiche?

A

Advance

Another way of describing your mortgage loan — the money you borrow from a bank or building society to buy your home.

Auction

An event where you can sell your property to the highest bidder. Ideal for quirky, unusual properties, and those in disrepair.

B

Buildings insurance

Insurance to cover structural damage to the property; for example, from storms or floods.

Bridging loan

A temporary loan which helps you secure a new property before your current one is sold.

C

Chain

The other buyers and sellers whose property transactions your move depends on.

Conveyancing

The legal side of buying and selling a home. A conveyancer is a residential property lawyer, whereas a solicitor will cover a wider area of legal practice.

Cash buyer

A buyer who can finance their property move without having to borrow money.

Completion

The last step in your property transaction, when legal documents have been transferred between solicitors and the purchase price has been paid.

Covenant

A legal condition detailed in the lease or title deeds which the owner, and future owners, must comply with.

D

Deeds

The legal documents which outline the ownership of the property and land.

Disbursements

The fees your solicitor charges which are separate from the standard legal fees; examples include Local Authority searches and Land Registry charges.

Draft contract

The initial contract for the property transaction, subject to later alterations.

Due diligence

Your own thorough analysis of a property purchase before you buy a home.

E

Escrow

Money held by a third party until the buyer and seller meet their obligations.

EPC

An Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) details how energy efficient a property is. It’s a legal requirement to have an EPC when a property is sold, and they are valid for 10 years.

Equity

The difference between the amount you owe on your mortgage and the value of your home.

Exchange

The exchange of contracts is the moment your property sale becomes legally binding.

F

Fixed-price

This means offers are invited on a property, but only at the advertised price.

Freehold

The freeholder is the person who owns the property, including the land it sits on.

G

Gazumping

If you’ve had an offer accepted, but someone makes a better offer before you exchange contracts and the seller accepts, you’ve been gazumped.

Gazundering

If you’re selling a home, and the buyer reduces their offer for no good reason before the exchange of contracts, you’ve been gazundered.

Guide price

The figure marketed by the estate agent for the property’s sale, otherwise known as the asking price.

Ground rent

An annual fee received by the freeholder for a leasehold property.

H

HomeBuyers Report

The most common type of property survey — sometimes known as the Level 2 survey — which highlights major and minor defects in the home.

I

Instruction

You formally ‘instruct’ an estate agent to market your property, just as you instruct a solicitor to work on your behalf.

Interest rate

A charge you pay for the privilege of borrowing usually reflected as a percentage of the outstanding loan.

J

Joint mortgage

A mortgage that you are jointly responsible for repaying alongside another person.

K

Keys

Every home needs a pair...

L

Land Registry

The governmental organisation that records details for all registered properties in England and Wales.

Leasehold

Referring to properties owned by a leaseholder, who owns the defined premises for a time-limited period and pays the freeholder a service charge and ground rent.

Lessor

The landlord (a person or organisation) that grants the lease. As the leaseholder, you are the lessee, or ‘tenant’.

Loan to value

The ratio in terms of the amount you borrow as a home loan relative to the value of the property.

M

Mortgage in principle

A provisional mortgage agreed by the lender which states the agreed amount you can borrow, subject to final approval.

Mortgage offer

The official confirmation from your lender that you can borrow a specified amount.

N

Negative equity

Where the value of your property is less than the amount owed on the loan.

New instruction

A property that has recently been added by an estate agent to their sales list.

No onward chain

A chain-free property, meaning the sale doesn’t depend upon the seller buying another property.

O

Offers over

This means offers are invited over the advertised guide price. It’s sometimes abbreviated to OIEO (offers in excess of). You may also see OIRO (offers in the region of).

P

Part exchange

Developers sometimes offer part exchange (PX) schemes which allow you to trade in your current property as part-payment for a new build home.

POA

‘Price on application’, abbreviated to POA, is used to advertise properties where the seller wants to keep the asking price secret.

Premium listing

An enhanced advert offered by property search sites like Rightmove for an extra fee.

Probate

A probate property is one sold by the beneficiary of the deceased owner’s estate once they have been granted legal permission.

Q

Quote

You will need to get quotes from the likes of removal companies, solicitors and surveyors during the moving process.

R

Repossession

The mortgage lender can repossess the property if the owner defaults on repayments.

Retention

When the lender withholds part of a mortgage loan until repair work has been completed.

S

Searches

Your solicitor carries out ‘searches’, or checks, for Local Authority records which show planning applications, environmental issues and other restrictions.

Shared ownership

A shared ownership scheme is where you buy a portion of the home and pay rent on the remaining share.

Sold STC

This stands for ‘sold subject to contract’, which means an offer has been accepted but the sale is not yet legally binding.

Stamp duty

Stamp Duty, officially known as Stamp Duty Land Tax, is a tax you pay in England or Northern Ireland when you buy a property for more than £125,000.

Survey

Your survey is a visual inspection carried out by a qualified surveyor, who will produce a report highlighting any defects with the property before you exchange.

T

Tender

The tender process is where the seller requests written offers on a property, with a specified closing date.

Tenure

Tenure refers to various ways you can own your property, such as freehold, leasehold or share of freehold.

Title

The title is usually attached to the title deeds, and confirms the identity of the legal owner. The Land Registry stores copies of the title deeds.

U

Under offer

A property is ‘under offer’ when the seller has accepted a bid, but before the exchange of contracts has taken place. See ‘sold STC’.

Underwriting

The process a lender uses to determine the risk attached to a mortgage application.

V

Valuation

The valuation is where an estate agent visits your property to assess the value, after which you decide whether to instruct them to manage the sale.

Vendor

The vendor is simply the legal word used to describe the seller.

W

Writ

A formal written order used by a court, for example to begin legal proceedings on the transfer of a property’s ownership.

X

Xerox

Okay, we’re scraping the barrel here... But there’s a lot of paperwork involved in property sales, so Xerox printers are your solicitor’s friend!

Y

Yahoo!

Your first words you utter on completion day when you realise the home is all yours.

Z

Zen

That feeling of satisfaction when you finally lean back on the sofa as a proud new homeowner.

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Nested puts homeowners in control of their sale. Our agents provide you with smarter insights so you achieve the best price for your home on your timeframe. When you’ve found your new home, you have the power to move chain free, while we take care of your sale. Our buying agent will even negotiate up to 5% saving on your new home, so you get more home for your money.

If you’re interested in selling smarter, get in touch today. Nested.com - The modern way to move.