Property Dictionary

With so much information, so many different terms we have came up with an easy to follow dictionary to help shed some light on what certain terms mean;


Agent Fee

The amount paid to the estate agent, either as a fixed amount or a percentage of the value of your property.

Agreement in Principle

Supplied by your mortgage lender in order to show a seller that you can obtain a mortgage to cover the purchase price.

Annual Percentage Rate (APR)

The total cost of a loan, including all interest charges, fees and costs. Shown as a percentage and is easily comparable to interest rates in mortgages.


An estimate of the value of a property carried out by an estate agent.


A process to sell your property to the highest bidder.


Banker’s Draft

Guaranteed by your bank, this can be seen as more secure than a personal cheque.


The perimeter area of a property that may have the usage of a fence, wall, hedges etc. Be sure to check these if a property comes with land.

Bridge Loan

Provided by the bank as a temporary loan to secure the purchase of a second property before the first one has sold.

Building Survey

Carried out by a registered surveyor, a building survey can be used for any property and shows if there has been any structural problems or if the property has been poorly maintained.

Buildings Insurance

Taken out by a homeowner to cover the costs of bricks and mortar should a problem arise. Such as a fire or flood.


Catchment Area

An area surrounding a school in which you must live if you would like your child to attend.

Caveat Emptor

A translation that means ‘buyer beware’. The buyer is responsible for carrying out all surveys and searches and understanding the problems that may arise before purchasing a property.


Where there are a number of buyers linked together and are all relying on the completion of each other’s property. Chain sales will complete simultaneously.

Closing Date

Not all that common, however, a closing date may be given where all parties must have shown their interest before a deadline.


A means to overcome the difficulties of a leasehold property where there are shared facilities. Such as a block of flats or student residence.


The date where money exchanges hands and title deeds are updated to become the legal owner of a property. Keys will be handed over on this date.

Contents Insurance

A worthwhile insurance to cover against any accidental damage or theft of all contents that is not fixed.


The legal document to be signed in order to commit to the selling or purchase of a property.


An individual who may conduct the conveyancing, other than a solicitor.


This is a term for the legal work carried out by the conveyancer when involved in the purchase and sale of a property.

Council Tax

Depending on the band of council tax, this can be a high or low amount of money to be paid to the local council in order to cover the cost of services and amenities.


Rules and conditions, contained within the title deeds or lease, that a buyer or future owner must adhere to. These can be restrictive covenants, such as prohibiting the owner from doing something.


Damp Proof Course

A method of preventing damp from rising up the wall or around windows by installing an impervious material, such as mineral felt PVC.


The legal documents to show proof of ownership of a property.


In most cases this is about 5-10%, paid by the buyer to the seller on exchange of contracts.


Relevant fees such as Stamp Duty Land Tax, searches and land registry fees. Paid for by the buyers solicitor on behalf of the buyer.


Paying off the sum of a mortgage.

Domestic Energy Assessor (DEA)

A qualified individual who can carry out an energy assessment on a property in order to produce an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC).

Draft Contract

A preliminary contract, that can be edited as necessary.



A right which someone may enjoy over another property. For example, a right of way or drainage rights).

Energy Performance Certificate (EPC)

Received from an DEA, the EPC provides information about a property’s energy efficiency. It provides a current performance rating and lasts for 10 years from the date it is produced.


The difference between the value of a property and the mortgage owed.

Exchange of Contracts

A giving and receiving of contracts by both parties in a transaction. Once they are signed they become legally binding.


Failed Valuation Survey

When the surveyors valuation report indicates that the property is not worth the value it’s being sold at, the mortgage lender will turn down your mortgage application.


First Time Buyer

Someone who has not owned a property before and is being for the first time.

Full Structural Survey

An in depth survey that looks at the main features of a property, including walls, roof, electrical wiring, plumbing, drainage, joinery, foundations and garden.

Fixtures and Fittings

The interior non-structural items included with the purchase of a property.

Flying Freehold

A part of a freehold property that overhangs another freehold property or land.


A tenure where the owner of the property also owns the land it sits upon.


The person who owns the freehold.



When a seller accepts and offer, but then receives and accepts a higher offer at a later date, it is called gazumping. This can happen to anyone, however, it is frowned upon.


If a buyer reduces their offer just before the exchange of contracts, in order to force the seller to sell at a lower price, then this is called gazundering. This can happen to anyone, however, it is frowned upon.

Ground Rent

The fee payable by the leaseholder to the freeholder.


Home Buyer’s Survey

Carried out by a chartered surveyor, it is not as in-depth as a full structural report and only includes basic information to assess the state of a property.



When a seller informs an estate agent that they wish to market a property with them.


Joint Agency

Where estate agents will work together to sell a property. This can also mean paying two lots of fees.


Land Registry Fee

A fee payable to the Land Registry in order to formally register ownership of a property.


A tenure in which the owner of the property does not own the land it sits upon. The Leasehold owner has the right to occupy the property, however, will have to pay a fee to the landlord.

Listed Building

These are protected by law and have strict planning permissions when wanting to carry out any work.

Local Authority Search

An application made by the buyer’s solicitor to the local council requesting any details of any planning or other matters that may alter the value of a property.


Memorandum of Sale

A document issued by the estate agent to both the buyer and seller, as well as both solicitors. It includes information at what price the property is being sold and the names of the solicitors dealing with the transaction.

Mortgage Advisor

A qualified individual who will discuss your financial situation and help find you the best mortgage deal available.


The bank or building society who the mortgage is taken out with.

Mortgage Offer

A formal written offer from a bank or building society to show an approved amount an individual can receive against a property.

Multiple Agency

The instruction of marketing a property between a number of estate agents. This can incur the possibility of having to pay more than one fee.


Negative Equity

When the value of a property decreases below the amount of mortgage owed.



When you buy a new home before it has been built. You buy these based on the plans drawn up and an artists impressions. These can sometimes have discounts applied to them.


A bid made by a potential buyer. This is not legally binding.


An independent professional body that investigates complaints on behalf of a customer. For example, this can be against an estate agent, solicitor and insurance companies.


Part Exchange

This is where a new home developer may offer to buy your home and put it towards the cost of buying a new development. This can sometimes mean accepting a lower offer in order for the developer to make a profit.

Preliminary Enquiries

These must be answered by the seller before the exchange of contracts.

Private Treaty

The process in which most house sales are completed in England and Wales.



The term given to a mortgage being fully paid.


If you do not keep up repayments of your mortgage then the mortgage provider will take possession of your home.

Right of Way

The legal term given to the right to use someone else’s property, i.e. a shared driveway or footpath.


Sold Subject to Contract

When an offer is made to purchase a property, but all dealings are subject to the actual exchange of the contract itself. Nothing is binding on either the buyer or seller until the contracts are exchanged.

Sole Agent

When a seller has instructed only agent to market their property.


The legal person who is appointed to handle the documentation for the sale and buying of property.

Stamp Duty

Government Land Tax that is applied to the buying of property over the price of £125,000. Certain percentages are calculated to obtain the overall sum to be paid.

Subject to Contract

When a decision is not yet legally binding.


An inspection of a property carried out by a qualified surveyor.


A qualified individual who will carry out an inspection, in order to produce a report that will indicate any maintenance problems with a property. They are usually a member of the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS).


Title Deeds

Documents showing the legal ownership of a property.

Transfer Deeds

A document from the Land Registry that shows the transfer of ownership from the seller to the buyer.


Under Offer

When a seller has accepted a bid from a buyer, the status of the property will be ‘Under Offer’



The amount that a property is valued at after a basic survey has been carried out to satisfy mortgage lenders.


The term given to anyone who is selling a property.

Verbal Offer

A bid from a potential buyer to a seller that is not legally binding.



The process of commencing legal proceedings.