Jargon Buster



Here at HPS we understand how confusing and stressful buying a property can be, whether you are a first time buyer or an experienced investor the process can still be confusing and unfamiliar.

One of the main causes of confusion is the terminology used by solicitors, surveyors and estate agents throughout the transaction. We understand that for anyone not in the property industry, there are terms that are not used on a daily basis. To help you out we have compiled a short list of terms to help assist you in the buying process…

Acceptance - Usually issued by lenders, acceptance is a document buyer’s need to sign in order to ‘accept’ the lender’s mortgage offer

Additional Mortgage Security Fee - a one-off premium which is paid to a broker up-front, commonly when the loan exceeds 75% of the property value

Advance - The amount a lender is willing to lend

Agricultural Covenant - A planning condition which permits the building of a property for residential purposes providing that home is occupied by someone who is going to work the land surrounding it in some way

Appraisal - Usually conducted by an estate agent, an appraisal is determines the value of your home (see ‘Valuation’ below)

APR (Annual Percentage Rate) - The rate of interest payable on your mortgage annually

Arrangement Fee - An administrative fee that is sometimes charged by lenders for the arrangement of a mortgage

Assignable Contract - A contract of exchange that permits the sale of a property before the date of completion

Auction - A method of purchasing property where buyers go head to head with others and bid in order to determine the sale price

Base Rate - The benchmark interest rate set by the Bank of England that is commonly used by most lenders to set their own rates

BMV - This stands for Below Market Value and means pretty much what it says, that a property is valued below what it could potentially fetch on the open market

Booking Fee - Same as an arrangement fee (see above)

Bridging Loan - A loan that allows the buyer to purchase a new property prior to the sale of their existing property being sold

Buildings Insurance - Cover for your property that includes structural issues you may incur during your ownership

Buyer - The person who is purchasing a property

Buy-to-let - Term used for either a property purchased for the purposes of renting (letting) or a mortgage associated with said purchase

Capital and Interest Mortgages - See Repayment Mortgages below

Chain - Properties linked together that need to exchange contracts at the same time in order for a sale/purchase to go through

Chain Free - A sale or purchase that is not reliant on other parties exchanging contracts at the same time

Collateral - A guarantee of sorts, usually the value of the property, that ensures the lender will have their loan repaid by the sale of the home should you default on your payments

Completion Date - The date that sees the property transaction finalised and ownership is transferred from seller to buyer

Compulsory Purchase Order (CPO) - a legal order which grants local authorities that need to obtain land or property the power to do so without the owner’s prior consent

Contract - A formal agreement between seller and buyer, usually prepared by a conveyancing solicitor, which details the terms and conditions of the property sale

Conveyancing - The legal process behind the transference of property

Deeds - Legal documentation associated with a property that confirms ownership

Default - Failure to make pre-arranged mortgage payments

Deposit - A financial lump sum paid from buyer to seller, usually held by solicitors, as a pledge of contract

Disbursements - Expenses paid by the conveyancing solicitor on behalf of the buyer

Discounted Tracker Rate Mortgage - A variable rate mortgage that is discounted for a designated period and usually based on the current interest rate set by the Bank of England.

Early Repayment Charge (ERC)A charge incurred by the borrower to the lender should they decide to pay off their loan before the agreed term expires (may also be referred to as an Early Repayment Penalty in some instances)

Easement - This is where a landowner has the right to make use of a piece of land, which is close to theirs, for their own benefit

Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) - A way of measuring the efficiency of a property in terms of energy usage with a scale that runs from A through to G (with A showing the greatest efficiency and G showing the least)

Equity - The difference between the market value of a property and the outstanding loan amount owed on the home

Exchange of Contracts - The time when a sale becomes legally binding and neither party can pull out without financial penalties

Fixed Price - No offers accepted other than those which match or exceed the asking price

Fixed Rate Mortgage - A mortgage with a rate that doesn’t change for a designated period of time

Fixtures and Fittings - Any items that are not deemed structural

Flying Freehold - This occurs when part of a freehold property overlaps part of a different freehold property or piece of land

Freehold - ownership of the property and the land that the property is situated on.

Gazumping - This is where a seller accepts one offer only to reject it when a better offer is made by a third party

Gazundering - This happens when a buyer lowers their initial offer just prior to contracts being exchanged

Ground Rent - An annual amount paid by the leaseholder to the freeholder of a property, often with service charges payable as well

Guarantor - A person who agrees to guarantee repayment of a loan or debt for another should they not be able to make payments

HMO (House in Multiple Occupation) - As the name suggests, these are properties that house multiple residents. They are also subjected to different rules and regulations than standard rental properties

Home Buyers Report - A document covering the structural condition of readily accessible areas of the property

Instruction - Simply means that a seller has told an estate agent to place their property on the market. Can also be applied to conveyancing solicitors as well, i.e. you instruct a solicitor to carry out the conveyancing of the property transaction on your behalf

Joint Agency - Two estate agents working together to sell a property

Joint Mortgage - When two or more people are responsible for the mortgage

Land Certificate - Documentation proving property ownership

Land Registry - A governmental body that holds records of all registered properties in both England and Wales

Land Transaction Tax - As of April 2018, buyers purchasing property in Wales are charged a land transaction tax rather than stamp duty

Land and Buildings Transaction Tax - This is the tax payable by property purchasers in Scotland

Leasehold - This is where ownership of a property is obtained but not the land that it is built on. Payment of ground rent to the landlord is also a normal requirement of a leasehold property

LTB (Let to Buy) - The process of letting out a current residential property, for the purpose of purchasing a new residential property

LTV (Loan-to-Value) - The percentage of the loan amount in relation to the market value of the property at the time of purchase

Maintenance Charge - A charge made towards the upkeep of a leasehold property

Mortgage Broker - An advisor who can arrange your loan for you, potentially getting a better deal than you’d find elsewhere

Mortgage Deed - A document that lays out the conditions of a mortgage secured on any given property

Mortgage Offer - A document from a bank or building society offering you a property loan as well its terms and conditions

Negative Equity - When the property value is less than the outstanding balance of a mortgage

Offer - An amount (or bid) by a buyer to a seller indicating the price they are willing to pay for a property

Open Market Value (OMV) - A property’s likely value in an open and balanced market

Overpayment - The act of paying more than the minimum amount off of your mortgage each month in order to shorten the length of the term and lessen the amount of interest you’ll need to pay

Public Liability Insurance - Cover that provides indemnity against injury or death to anybody in or around your property

Repayment Mortgage - A mortgage that pays of both interest and principal by way of regular monthly instalments

Repossession - The unfortunate process of taking back the property in order to sell it and make good on a bad debt should the borrower be unable to pay

Searches - Usually conducted by conveyancing solicitors, these ‘searches’ are simply checks of local council records to see if there are any outstanding planning applications or restrictions in place on the property in question

Shared Ownership - Commonly provided by housing associations, Shared Ownership is a scheme that allows first-time buyers a chance to buy a share of a home (usually between 25% and 75%), and then pay rent on the remaining amount. The percentage owned can be increased by way of ‘staircasing’ until full ownership is made

Snagging - This term is most commonly associated with new build properties and simply means to ‘make good’ on minor faults, such as missed paintwork, appliances not fitted correctly, etc.

Snagging Survey - Usually conducted before the buyer moves in to a new build home so that workmanship can be assessed and issues addressed

Sold Subject to Contract (SSTC) - A term that indicates an agreement to purchase a property has been made but contracts are yet to be exchanged

Stamp Duty - A tax paid by the buyer to the government on completion of a property sale

Survey - A property inspection carried out by a qualified surveyor

Title - A legal right to property ownership

Tracker Mortgage - A mortgage with a rate that moves up or down with the Bank of England’s base rate (see Base Rate above)

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

Under Offer - When the seller has accepted an offer on their home but contracts have not yet been exchanged

Variable Rate Mortgage - A mortgage with an interest rate that can change at any time

Vendor - Another word for the person selling the property, the seller

Vetting - The process of conducting background checks on potential buyers or sellers prior to purchasing

Verbal Offer - An offer that is not legally binding made verbally by the purchaser

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