Glossary

Here’s a list of various words and phrases related to selling your property, and what they mean:

(please let us know if you can’t find the word or phrase you’re looking for and we’ll add it!)

Advance
The amount lent on a mortgage or secured loan.

Auction
Method of selling a property to the highest bidder. More info

Bailiff
Used to evict following a possession order if you do not vacate the property. The Lender will apply to the Court for a Warrant for Possession so that a Bailiff can evict you. More info

Balance Outstanding
The amount owed on a mortgage or loan at a point in time.

Below Market Value
Mainly used in the context of selling a property for less than the open market value to achieve a quick sale from a Cash Buyer. More info

Bridging Loan
A short term secured loan, normally taken to enable purchase of a property before the existing one has been sold. More info

Buildings Insurance
If you have a mortgage your Lender will require you to have Buildings Insurance as a term of the loan. The sum insured must be sufficient to cover rebuilding the property and adjoining properties if terraced.

Even if you don’t have a mortgage it makes sense to insure your most valuable asset. You become responsible for the insurance from when you exchange contracts (not when you complete on the purchase). More info

Building Survey
A survey carried out by a Chartered Surveyor with a detailed report of the structural condition of the property and details of any defects. More info

Cash Buyer
Someone who does not need a mortgage or loan to buy your property and so can usually proceed much faster. More info

Chain
A number of linked property sales. Exchange of contracts on each transaction will be timed to take place simultaneously.

Charging Order
Granted at a court’s discretion to a lender after a borrower defaults on an unsecured loan. A charge is placed on a property, which can only be removed by the debtor repaying the amount due. Typically it remains until the property is sold with the lender being paid from the sale proceeds. More info

Closing Date
A date set for submission of offers whereby a property is offered on a Sealed Bid basis or where more than one party wants to buy.

Comparables (comps)
Information on properties of a similar size, location, etc, that are used to assess the open market value of a particular property. More info

Completion
When all the legal formalities relating to the sale and purchase have been completed, the Buyer has paid in full (with a mortgage if necessary) and keys have been handed over.

Contents Insurance
Insurance against damage or theft of a property’s contents. Contents Insurance is not compulsory, you decide whether you want it or not. More info

Contract
The legal document setting out the details of the property, the terms of the sale and the parties involved. More info

Contract Pack
A set of documents compiled by the Seller’s solicitor and sent to the Buyer’s solicitor at the start of the conveyancing process. It contains the draft contract, the title deeds, Property Information and Fixtures & Fittings forms and any Guarantees, Building Approvals and Planning Consents.

Conveyancer
A solicitor or licensed conveyancer who deals with the legal aspects of buying and selling properties. More info

Conveyancing
The legal process of transacting a property. More info

Covenant
Regulations and restrictions relating to a property that are outlined in the title deeds or lease. A restrictive covenant is one that prohibits the owner from doing something.

Credit File
A record of someone’s borrowing, late payments and insolvency events.

Deeds (or Title Deeds)
Legal documentation regarding the ownership of a property.

Delayed Completion
Where a Buyer and Seller exchange contracts but delay the actual completion. This can be by agreement – see here – or can be a tactic to stall for the benefit of either the vendor or buyer – see here.

Deposit
The amount of money you pay on the exchange of contracts, often 10% of the purchase price.

Disbursements
Additional costs incurred when selling or buying a property in addition to the standard fee charged by a Solicitor or Conveyancer.

Draft Contract
The initial contract sent by the Seller’s solicitor to the Buyer’s solicitor.

Early Repayment Charge
A charge made by the lender if the borrower redeems a mortgage before a specific date as specified in the mortgage terms.

Easement
The right to use land, usually for a specific purpose, e.g. for access to neighbouring property.

Energy Performance Certificate (EPC)
A record of the energy efficiency of a property. A legal requirement when selling.

Equity
The difference between the value of a property and the amount owed on mortgages and secured loans.

Equity Release
Mainly available to over 55’s, enabling them to release money and stay in their home without selling (usually until death). More info

Estate Agent
A company who markets properties for sale. More info

Exchange of Contracts
Legally binds both parties to the transaction. Both Buyer and Seller sign a copy and these are returned to their respective solicitors who exchange them. The Buyer pays the deposit at this stage. More info

Freehold
Permanent ownership of property or land.

Fixtures & Fittings Form
This is a standard form provided by the vendor’s conveyancing solicitor and completed by the vendor, stating specifically what items are included in the sale of a property

Flying Freehold
Occurs where one freehold overhangs or projects into another. Commonly exist above archways that allow access between adjoining properties.

Gazumping
Where a seller has verbally accepted an offer and then subsequently accepts a higher offer from another buyer.

Gazundering
Where a buyer reduces a verbally agreed offer before exchange of contracts.

Ground Rent
The fee levied by a freeholder to a leaseholder.

Homebuyer Report
Report required by a lender before confirming the mortgage to assess the overall state of a property and to determine its value. More info

Indemnity Insurance
Insurance arranged by a solicitor, taken out if a property is sold without relevant guarantees or approvals (usually because they were lost). This covers a vendor against future claims.

Joint Agency
Where two estate agents work together to market a property. More info

Joint Tenants
Ownership of a property by two or more people. Joint tenants share equal ownership of the property and have the equal, undivided right to keep or dispose of the property.

Land Registry
The governing body that records the ownership of land & property throughout England & Wales.

Land Registry Office Copies
The official copy of your property’s record held by the Land Registry, consisting of a Property Register and Title Plan.

Lease extension
Leases can be extended and if a mortgage is required, must be of the minimum length required by the Lender – for details of individual Lender’s requirements see CML website

Lease Option
An agreement for someone to have an option to buy a property and to lease it to a third party. It is a way for an owner to vacate a property, with someone else being responsible for mortgage payments, and with a possibility of a sale in the future. More info

Leasehold property
A property (but not the land on which it stands) owned for a fixed period of time. Leaseholders (lessees) have a legal agreement with the landlord (sometimes known as the ‘freeholder’) called a ‘lease’. This states how many years the property will be owned for before the lease expires. Leases can be extended and it is rare for a landlord to be able to end the lease and evict the leaseholder.

On a leasehold property the lessee will usually be required to pay Ground Rent and a service charge.

Licensed Conveyancer
An alternative to a solicitor used to buy and sell property. More info

Mortgage
A loan secured on a property. More info

Mortgagee
The entity who provides the mortgage e.g. the Bank or Building Society.

Mortgage Broker
Someone who arranges a mortgage. More info

Mortgage ComparisonTable
An easy way to compare currently available mortgages online. More info

Mortgage deed
A legal document relating to the mortgage lender’s interest in the property.

Mortgage in principle
Following initial application this is issued by a Lender, although it is subject to confirmation when property details etc are available.

Mortgage Offer
A formal written offer made by a Lender to advance a specific amount of money. For a buyer this means they can proceed with a purchase although mortgage offers can sometimes be withdrawn.

Multiple Agency (multi agency)
The selection of two or more estate agents to act on the seller’s behalf.

Negative equity
When a property’s value is lower than the borrowings on it.

Online Estate Agents
Estate Agents who do not operate from traditional shop premises. More info

Open market value (or full market value)
The current value of a property if offered to the open market i.e. via an Estate Agent.

Option
The right, but not the obligation, to buy a specific property or piece of land, normally backed up by a legal agreement. More info

Pre-Completion Searches (when buying):
Used to check that a buyer hasn’t become bankrupt since a mortgage offer was made and that the property is still owned by the seller.

Private Treaty
The method by which most house sales are completed in England and Wales i.e. not by auction.

Property Information Form
This is a questionnaire given to the vendor about their property.

Property Ombudsman
A government-approved organisation providing consumer protection for home buyers and sellers.

Redemption Settlement
The amount required to repay a mortgage, including any penalties for early repayment, any arrears and any fees due to the lender to close the mortgage.

Referral Fee
A fee paid to someone for referring or recommending a companies’ products or services. Most Estate Agents earn a significant amount of their income from these types of fees. More info

Registered Property
Where the title to the property is registered at the Land Registry and is guaranteed by the state. Since 1998 compulsory registration of all property has been required when it is sold.

Remortgage
Replacing a mortgage on a property with another one, to benefit from a lower rate or to release equity. More info

Repossession
When a lender takes legal possession of a property following a breach of the mortgage conditions (usually missed payments). More info

Searches
Checks carried out by a solicitor on behalf of a buyer. Most of these are to the Local Authority regarding planning permissions, road proposals, environmental health issues, etc. A title search is also done to confirm ownership of the property, any restrictions on use, etc.

Second Charge
In addition to the mortgage, if a further loan is secured on a property this is a second charge loan. It ranks behind the mortgage i.e. if a property is repossessed the mortgagee (first charge lender) will take priority for repayment.

Secured Loan
Any loan secured on a property.

Service charge (or Maintenance charge)
Contribution made by a Leaseholder, paid to the Freeholder, for maintenance of common areas etc.

Shortfall
The amount owed by someone if a property is sold for an amount lower than the amount of the mortgage and/or secured loans. Normally this is because the Lender has repossessed the property and sold it. More info

Sole Agency
Where one Estate Agent is instructed to market a property for sale. More info

Sole Selling rights
This means that an Estate Agent is entitled to charge a fee whether or not the Buyer is introduced by them. More info

Stamp Duty (Stamp Duty Land Tax or SDLT)
A tax paid by the buyer of a property. Stamp Duty rates follow the sliding scale below:

Up to £125,000                             0%
£125,001 to £250,000                 1%
£250,001 to £500,000                 3%
£500,001 to £1,000,000              4%
£1,000,001 to £2,000,000           5%

Structural survey
A detailed report carried out by a Chartered Surveyor of the general structure and condition of a property. More info

Subject to Contract
Sale and purchase agreements that have not yet been legally completed.

Surveyor
An accredited person, normally a member of the RICS (Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors) who is qualified to assesses the condition and value of property or land. More info

Tenants in common
If two or more people own their home as “tenants in common”, each person owns a stated share in a property and their individual proportion is distributable as part of the owners estate.

Title Deeds
Document that provides proof of ownership of a property.

Transfer Deed
A document signed in the presence of a witness by the person selling a property that transfers the ownership of the property to the buyer.

Under Offer
When an offer has been accepted but exchange of contracts has not yet taken place.

Unregistered property
Land or property not yet registered on the Land Registry database. The title can only be proved by a copy of the title deeds and a solicitor will need to check the property’s documentation to certify it. Since 1998 compulsory registration of all property has been required when sold.

Unsecured loan
A loan that does not require a property as collateral.

Vacant Possession
A property bought with no other person, e.g. a tenant, in occupation.

Warrant for Possession
A court order allowing a lender to take possession of a property. More info

Free Property Selling Advice

Get all this and more in our Weekly email full of Information, Tips and Advice

  • Price Trends in Your Postcode
  • Estate Agents You Should Avoid
  • How to Get 10% More Than Your Neighbour