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Buying and selling property can be one of the most stressful periods in your life. The process is not overly complicated, however the use of "jargon" can make it sound a little more daunting than it really is. Our "jargon busting" list converts the lingo into plain English.


Agreement in principle - An agreement from a mortgage lender that a buyer qualifies for a loan up to a certain value subject to the approval of the property by the lender.

Arrangement fee - A fee charged by a mortgage lender or a mortgage broker for arranging a mortgage loan.

Auction - A form of sale whereby the property is sold to the highest bidder at an auction meeting.

Chain - The situation where several property transactions are inter-dependent of each other and will need to complete at the same time.

Completion – The date on which a property transaction is finalised and the seller receives the money and the buyer becomes the legal owner of the property.

Completion statement – a document received from the conveyancing firm detailing all costs involved in the final settlement of the sale and purchase.

Contract – The legal agreement between the buyer and seller which sets out the terms of the property transaction.

Conveyancer – An individual or firm appointed by a buyer and a seller to complete the legal elements of the property transaction.

Conveyancing – The process by which legal ownership and title of property is transferred.

Covenants – Clauses within the title deeds of property that might contain restrictions on how the property may be used.

Deeds – Original documents that evidence the legal ownership of property.

Deposit – An amount of money that the buyer pays on exchange of contracts. The deposit is typically 10% of the purchase price.

Enquiries – Questions that are raised by the buyer’s solicitor between acceptance of offer and completion. Such questions normally address any further information or concerns that the buyers solicitor has.

Energy Performance Certificate – A document that shows the energy efficiency and environmental impact of a property. See Aspire notes on EPC’s for further information.

Exchange of contracts – The date on which the buyers and sellers solicitors exchange signed contracts and the contact becomes legally binding on both parties.

Fixtures and fittings – A list of the non-structural items that are to be sold with the property.

Freehold – Ownership of land for an indeterminate period of time.

Gazumping – Where a seller agrees a sale, but subsequently receives and accepts a higher offer before exchange of contract.

Gazundering – Where a purchaser reduces their offer, usually just before exchange of contract.

Ground Rent – An annual amount paid by a leaseholder in accordance with the lease terms (see also maintenance charge). See Aspire notes on leaseholds at

Help to buy – A Government scheme that supports people with small deposits purchasing home.

Help to buy ISA – A tax free saving account to help buyers save a deposit whereby the Government makes a contribution into the account to top up contributions made by a buyer.

Interest only mortgage – Where monthly repayments cover only the interest element of a mortgage and there is no reduction in the principal balance.

Land registry – A Government database of land and title ownership including any charges against the land.

LeaseholdLeasehold is a form of tenure whereby the leaseholder has the right to use property for a period of time and in accordance with the terms of the lease. 

Listed building – a building that might carry restrictions and obligations on use and development due to its historic or architectural importance.

Loan to value – The amount a mortgage lender is prepared to lend expressed as a percentage of the value of the property.

Maintenance Charge – an amount paid by a leaseholder on an annual basis to contribute to the repair, maintenance and insurance of the building.

Mortgage deed – The document that provides the terms and conditions of the lenders loan (which will be secured against the property).

Mortgage term – The number of years over which a lender is prepared to lend. Any amount outstanding on the mortgage will need to be repaid at the end of the term.

Mortgage valuation – A report conducted by a surveyor on behalf of the lender to determine the value of a property that the lender intends to use as security for a loan.

Multiple agency – The situation where the seller instructs more than one estate agent to market a property for sale.

Offer - The amount that a buyer offers to the seller for for the purchase of the property. 

On line estate agency – An internet-based Estate Agency. These agencies typically do not undertake viewings with potential buyers.

Open house – A period of time (normally a couple of hours) whereby the estate agent makes the property available for viewing by multiple potential purchasers.

Preliminary enquiries – The process via which, on agreement of sale, the sellers solicitor sends the buyers solicitor the answers to standard questions about the property.

RICS – The Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors.

Right to buy – A Government scheme that allows eligible council tenants to buy the homes they live in at a discounted price.

Searches – Undertaken as part of due diligence by the buyer’s solicitor to determine whether there are any matters affecting the property.

Shared ownership – Where a share of a property is purchased by a private individual from a UK housing authority. The buyer pays an affordable rent on the portion of the property that they don’t own.

Share of freehold – Where the owners of property (usually flats) own shares in a Company that owns the freehold title.

Sole agency – Where one estate agent is instructed to market and sell a property (see also multiple agency).

Sole selling rights – Where the instructed estate agent is entitled to fees irrespective of who introduces a buyer (including if the seller introduces a buyer).

Stamp Duty – Stamp duty land tax (SDLT) is a tax on the purchase of real estate paid to the Government. The rate of tax is dependent on the price of the property and whether the buyer owns existing property. 

Subject to contract – Where an offer on a property is accepted, but contracts are not yet exchanged and therefore nothing is yet legally binding.

Survey – A property inspection commissioned by a buyer to understand if there are any issues with a property. There are several different kinds of survey reports that have differing levels of detail. 

Vacant possession – A property that will be purchased with nobody residing in it on completion date.

Vendor – The seller of a property.

Yield – Yield is a measurement of the return that an investor receives from a property.