Property Glossary

Property jargon buster

Getting confused by waffly terms and property speak?

Though the world of mortgages and property is filled with unfamiliar vocabulary, there is no need to be intimidated. Our property jargon buster will help you navigate the terms you’re likely to encounter.

Acceptance

A document indicating acceptance of a mortgage provider’s offer.

Affordability assessment

The process which lenders complete to establish if someone can afford to repay the loan repayments over the term of the loan.

Agreement in Principle (AIP)

A statement from a mortgage lender confirming they’ll lend a certain amount before the purchase of your property is finalised.

Annual percentage rate (APR)

A numerical value that represents the true cost of a loan or mortgage, taking into account not just the interest rate, but also the other costs, such as arrangement fees and charges.

Arrangement fee

A fee paid to your mortgage provider at the start of your mortgage.

Assign

To hand over the rights to a property from one individual to another.

Assured shorthold tenancy (AST)

A common type of rental agreement in the UK, between a private landlord (or letting agent) and ten-ant. ASTs are periodic or fixed-term contracts that can be terminated by the landlord without stating a reason.

Base rate

An interest rate set by the Bank of England. Mortgage interest rates are often linked to the base rate.

Break clause

A contractual clause in a tenancy agreement that allows either party to terminate the arrangement after a fixed term, for example, six months into a 12-month contract.

Bridging loan

A short-term loan designed to help the borrower to buy property for a short period, for example, be-fore they have arranged a mortgage, or if they intend to sell the property soon afterwards.

Building inspection

See ‘Survey’.

Buy-to-let

A property bought with the sole intention of letting it to tenants.

Chain

A string of property sales dependent on one another to progress.

Completion

The final stage of a property sale and the point at which a buyer receives the keys and becomes the legal owner.

Completion statement

A solicitor’s record of the transfers and transactions conducted as part of the completion.

Conditions of sale

Items in a contract relating to the responsibilities of the various parties involved.

Contract

An agreement and accompanying legal document between two parties. In a property context, these are usually the buyer and seller of a specific property.

Conveyancer/conveyancing

The individual who undertakes the legal procedures involved in property sales on behalf of the buyer and seller, and the work they undertake.

Credit search references

Third-party checks on a tenant’s credit history to establish their suitability to rent a particular proper-ty.

Decision in Principle (DIP)

See ‘Agreement in Principle (AIP)’.

Deeds

The legal documents establishing the ownership of a property.

Deposit

A lump sum of money a buyer (mortgage deposit) or renter (tenancy deposit) pays to a property owner to secure the right to own or rent their property.

Deposit protection scheme (DPS)

An authorised scheme to hold and protect a rental tenancy deposit.

Dilapidations

Items requiring repair or replacement at the end of a tenancy due to damage by the tenant.

Disbursements

Costs and expenses incurred and paid during the conveyancing process, such as search fees and stamp duty.

Discounted-rate mortgage

A mortgage deal where the interest rate is a set amount less than the mortgage lender’s standard vari-able rate (SVR).

Draft contract

An early version of a contract that may be updated before the contracts are exchanged.

Early repayment charges (ERCs)

Penalty fees charged when someone leaves a mortgage during a specified period, usually the period of the initial deal.

Easement

A right to cross or use an area of land, that may affect a property owned.

Endowment mortgage

You pay money into a type of investment called an ‘endowment’ to pay off an interest-only mortgage at the end of the term.

Energy Performance Certificate (EPC)

A document that displays a property’s energy efficiency rating and environmental impact. Legally re-quired for the sales and lettings process.

Equity

The value of a property owned by an individual (versus the value they are still required to make mort-gage repayments on).

Exchange of contracts

The moment at which a property sale is final, and the buyer and seller have both signed the contract of sale, which can no longer be amended.

Fittings

Items current within a property that do not constitute part of the property and are not included in the sale, such as furniture.

Fixed-rate mortgage

The mortgage interest rate stays the same for the initial period of the deal.

Fixtures

Items attached to the land or property that are included in its sale.

Freehold

A type of property ownership (see also ‘Leasehold’) that indicates that the land and building is within the ownership of an individual indefinitely.

Gas safety record

A document legally required of all landlords to demonstrate that all gas appliances have been checked by a qualified engineer and declared safe.

Gazumping

An alternative buyer makes a higher offer to buy a property that is already under offer.

Gazundering

When the buyer lowers their offer to buy a property at the last minute, just before contracts are ex-changed.

Ground rent

A charge paid by a leasehold owner to a freehold owner of a property, usually on an annual basis.

Homebuyer report

See ‘Survey’.

Interest-only mortgage

Interest is paid on the mortgage each month, without repaying any of the capital loan itself.

Inventory

A document stating the contents and condition of a property at the start and end of a tenancy period, to record any loss or damage.

Land Registry

The registry of ownership of land and property in the UK, to which a fee is paid when ownership changes hands.

Leasehold

A type of property ownership (see also ’Freehold’) that indicates that an individual has purchased the right to live in a property for a fixed period, although the land and building belong to a freehold own-er.

Listed building

A property or structure that appears on a register due to its special historic or architectural interest.

Loan-to-value (LTV)

The size of the mortgage as a percentage of the property’s value.

Market value

The estimated value that a property would sell for at the current time on the open market.

Mortgage valuation

A report on the value of a property by an independent surveyor on behalf of the mortgage provider.

Negative equity

A state in which the owner of a property owes more to their mortgage provider than the total value of the property.

Offset mortgage

Mortgage linked with a savings and, sometimes, current account. Credit balances are offset against the mortgage debt so interest is only paid on the difference, while also paying off the capital.

Remortgage

Changing a mortgage without moving property to save money, change to a different type of mortgage or to release equity from the property.

Repayment mortgage

Paying off the mortgage interest and part of the capital of the loan each month. Unless any repay-ments are missed, the mortgage is guaranteed to be paid by the end of the term.

Searches

Checks conducted as part of the conveyancing process before a property sale is made final.

Share of freehold

A form of property ownership (see also ‘Freehold’ and ‘Leasehold’) where several individuals own a portion of the property through a limited company.

Sole agent instruction

A sale or tenancy managed by a single estate or letting agent.

Stamp duty/Land and buildings transaction tax/Land transaction tax

A tax paid when buying a property over a certain value. If you’re buying a home in England or North-ern Ireland from 1 October 2021, you will pay Stamp Duty on residential properties costing more than £125,000, unless you qualify for first-time buyer’s relief. If you’re buying a second home, you’ll still pay an extra 3% Stamp Duty on properties costing more than £40,000 at the relevant rates at that time.

If you’re buying a home in Scotland you will pay Land and Buildings Transaction Tax (LBTT) on proper-ties costing more than £145,000. If you’re buying an additional property, you might need to pay an extra 4% on the total purchase price of the property, as well as the standard rates of LBTT that may apply.

If you’re buying a home in Wales you will pay Land Transaction Tax (LTT) if the property costs more than £180,000. If you’re buying your main home, you will pay no LTT on purchases under £250,000. If you’re buying an additional property, you will need to pay the higher residential rates for each band.

Standard variable rate (SVR)

The default mortgage interest rate a lender will charge after the initial mortgage deal period ends.

Subject to contract

A phase of a property sale after an offer has been made and accepted but before contracts have been signed and exchanged.

Survey

A property inspection and report conducted by a qualified surveyor to identify issues or faults with the property that may affect its safety or value.

Tenancy/tenant

A period in which an individual is granted the right to live in a specified property, subject to a tenancy agreement, and the individual involved.

Tracker mortgage

The interest rate on the mortgage tracks the Bank of England base rate at a set margin above or below it.

Transfer document

The document that legally transfers the rights to a property from one party to another.

Under offer

A phase of a property sale after an offer has been made.

Valuation

An appraisal of a property to establish its market value.

Variable rate mortgage

Interest rate on the mortgage can go up or down according to the lender’s standard variable rate.