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Property terms explained - Your go-to property jargon buster

Selling your house, but baffled by all the property jargon?

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The perfect companion to your property sale

Property jargon explained, so you're not left in the dark

It's not easy selling a property, especially when there's SO MUCH property jargon to wrap your head around.

Take it from us, selling a property isn't always as easy as it sounds and can be daunting if you're not clued-up on all your property jargon.

Fail to do so and you risk making a bunch of school boy errors that could cost you both financially and in your negotiation stance. Not ideal!

So, to help make sense of property sale and teach you all the relevant terminology, we've created one of the most comprehensive property jargon busters on the internet...

Our property jargon buster is updated regularly.

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A - E


In the unfortunate event that someone dies, this document transfers the legal ownership of any properties into another person's name.


An estimate of a property's current value in the eyes of an estate agent or surveyor.


When payments (typically related to a mortgage) are NOT made on time. Arrears is a dark place.

Not only is it the start of a downward debt spiral, but it's also far from kind on your credit score - something that could prevent you from securing future finance.

Live below your means though, and arrears shouldn't be an issue (phew).

Asbestos Survey

A survey that identifies if a property contains any traces of asbestos - a deadly material that was used extensively in insulation, flooring and roofing.

Since 1999, asbestos has been banned in the UK as asbestos fibres can gradually damage the lungs over time.


A form of property sale where potential buyers bid for a property, with the highest bidder taking home the keys.

Auctions are a great way to sell your property quickly, especially if it's in need of a substantial restoration.

Selling a property at auction is a lot different than a traditional property sale, so it's vital you do your research first!

Breach Of Contract

Making a U-turn after contracts have been exchanged and not completing on the agreed completion date - something we'd not advise you to do!

Breach of contract be costly, especially if you're in a chain, as it'll gives other parties the opportunity to sue you for any damages.

Well, either that or they could repair their chain overnight using a 'sell house fast' service like us.

Building Survey

A detailed report of a property and its construction that's typically carried out by an accredited surveyor to identify any areas of concern.

Sometimes these are also referred to as a structural survey.

Caveat Emptor

A Latin turn of phrase which roughly translates as 'buyer beware' - i.e. the house will be 'sold as seen'.

So, if you come across a property with one of these, be sure to do your due diligence... don't say we didn't warn you!

Chain Break

A situation where a property chain breaks because a buyer pulls out from a sale.

In such an instance, the seller will have to replace the buyer before the sale can continue.

Being a cash buyer of property, we can repair broken chains in a jiffy!


Nice and easy one here. Chattels are basically a technical term for the fixtures and fittings that you as a seller can pick up and take with you.

So that's furniture like a sofa and freestanding lamp, or appliances like a dishwasher and tumble dryer.


Nice and easy one here. Chattels are basically a technical term for the fixtures and fittings that you as a seller can pick up and take with you.

So that's furniture like a sofa and freestanding lamp, or appliances like a dishwasher and tumble dryer.

Chartered Surveyor

Someone who's accredited to the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors and carries out surveys on properties to ensure the buyer is clear about what they're buying.


Fees payable to the company who sells a property. While with an estate agent, commission may be a couple of thousand pounds, with us it's always £0 - we don't charge it!


The last piece of the puzzle of the property buying process.

At completion, you become the legal owner of your property and move in. The day on which completion occurs is known as your completion date.

Conditions Of Sale

A document that outlines the rights and duties of the buyer and seller.

Conservation Area

An area of specific architectural significance where changes to buildings and the landscape are restricted by law.

For anyone with a fetish for character properties, this is definitely one restriction to watch out for.


A legally binding document that's signed by both the buyer and seller to complete a property purchase.


Legal and admin work that's required to transfer the ownership from one person to another. This is usually carried out by a solicitor or a licenced conveyancer.


A person (usually a  solicitor or property lawyer) who guides buyers and sellers through the conveyancing process.

Council Tax Band

An alphabetical rating that determines how much tax you pay for your house.

Tax bands in England range from A-H - A being the cheapest and H being the most expensive.

Although for those in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland the way they're calculated does differ. If you think you're paying too much council tax, don't worry - this is something you can contest. 


Legal documents that homeowners must provide to prove that they have the legal right to sell a property or any accompanying land.

Also known as Title Deeds, these include mortgage documents, conveyancing documents, contracts and wills.

Deeds are stored in different places - some will be with the HM Land Registry while others should be held by your solicitor.


When you sell your house to move into something smaller. Usually this is because your children have flown the nest or that we're simply looking to cut our costs. 


An easement allows a landowner the right to use a nearby piece of land for their benefit - basically a posh term for right of way.

Early Redemption Fee

The fee charged by a mortgage lender if you either pay off your mortgage early, or surpass your limit for over payment.

In essence it's a penalty for cutting your mortgage deal short. The more you exceed the limits of your mortgage, the higher this charge is likely to be.

Energy Performance Certificate (EPC)

A measure of how efficient your property is that's ranked from A - G with A being the most efficient.

EPCs are a good indication of a property's energy consumption and the associated running costs.

An EPC is legal requirement for anyone selling a property. 


The part of your property that you've paid off. So if you take out a 75% mortgage, your equity will start off as 25% and increase as you pay down the loan.

Pay off your mortgage and your equity will be at 100%.

Your equity also increases or decreases depending on the value of your property.

Exchange Of Contracts

The point in a property sale where solicitors exchange contracts on behalf of the buyer and seller, so that the sale becomes legally binding.

Buyers: This is also when you'll pay your deposit.


The act of revoking someone's right to live in a property and removing them from the premises.

Lenders can evict you if you stop paying your mortgage, just as landlords can evict you if you fall behind on your rent. 

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F - J

Fair Market Value (FMV)

The figure a property would achieve with a willing buyer (i.e. it's price on a good day).

Get your property appraised by an estate agent and this is the figure you'll likely be quoted.

Although it's worth remembering that if the agent performs poorly and doesn't find you the right buyer, you may end up settling for a price below FMV.

Not ideal!

Financial Conduct Authority

The regulator of the financial services industry in the UK. The FCA regulate the near on 60,000 businesses and are there primarily to protect consumers. 


The rights to both the property and the land; most houses in the UK are freehold.

It's these rights that make freehold properties typically more desirable than their leasehold cousins.

Flying Freehold

When a part of a freehold property hangs over the boundary to another freehold property.

For instance, a balcony or a walkway running between two properties.

Houses In Multiple Occupation (HMO)

A property with at least 3 tenants that share communal spaces, such as a bathroom, toilet and kitchen.

Live in a HMO and you'll pay rent on a room by room basis, opposed to renting the entire house.

Good examples of HMOs are hostels, student accommodation and houses split into bedsits.

Index Map Search

A search done by a solicitor to check who owns the land on which a property is built.

They do so through the Land Registry. 

Joint Ownership

When there are two or more legal owners of a property.

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K - O

Land Registry

A governmental department that records the ownership of land across England and Wales.

It's where your buyer's solicitor/ conveyancer will go to check up on the legal aspects of your property and register the details of its new ownership.

To do so requires the buyer to pay a fee - just one of the fees we would cover if you sell your property through us.

Landlord Insurance

A form of insurance designed to protect landlords from the risks associated with buy-to-let.

Landlord insurance usually includes property owners' liability cover and buildings & contents insurance as well as cover for it a tenant defaults or can't pay the rent. 


Freehold's less desirable cousin. With leasehold properties you have a lease agreement outlining the period of time in which you can live in the property, and have to pay a form of rent to the owner of the freehold - typically a developer (in the case of flats). Leases can vary in length from as much as 999 years to less than 70 years.

Properties with less than 70 years on their lease are likely to be unmortgageable and would need to be bought by a cash buyer like us.

Legal Pack

Much like the name suggests, legal packs are an archive of information on a property that's compiled by a seller's solicitor.

Your typical legal pack features copies of documents like the title deeds, leases (if appropriate), any special conditions etc. and is typically required if you're selling a house at auction.

Got to auction without one and the figure you'll achieve is likely to be considerably less.

Loan To Value (LTV)

A ratio, expressed as a percentage (%), that shows how much equity you have in your mortgages.

For instance, if you have a 10% deposit, you’ll require a mortgage with a 90% loan to value.

Lenders use an LTV to calculate the level of risk associated with giving you the green light.

Typically, the lower LTV you’re after on a mortgage, the cheaper it’ll be.

Local Authority Search

When your buyer's solicitor checks up with the local council to assess any impending risks to a property or the surrounding area.

Mortgage Broker

Someone who specialises in arranging mortgage - in essence a middleman between you and a lender, who uses their financial expertise to find you a mortgage deal.

While some mortgage brokers do charge a fee, most are fee free and get paid commission by lenders.

Brokers are a great way to go, especially if you're uncertain about mortgage or simply don't have the time to arrange them.

Mortgage Term

The overall duration of a mortgage loan - usually this is 25 years.

Over-payments are a nifty way to reduce your mortgage term, providing they're permitted by your lender.  


When a property is ready for you to move into without the need for any major D.I.Y.

This excludes decorating (i.e. anything of personal preference).

Saying that, you can take the idea of a move-in-ready home one step further by opting for a fully furnished new build.

This rids you of any decorating and even (in some cases) furnishing your home!

Negative Equity

When the market value of the property drops below the balance of the mortgage.

For instance, if you buy a property for £200,000 with a 20% deposit (£20,000) but then hypothetically the next day the market crashes, you'd be left with a house worth £170,000 and an outstanding mortgage of £180,000 (Yikes!)

Notice Period

The length of notice you give a landlord (or vice versa) before terminating a rental agreement.

Notice periods vary, but typically they're issued in a number of weeks or months.

Signing on the dotted line without knowing your notice period is a common school boy error!

Occupier Consent Form

A form to be signed when you take out a mortgage by anyone who's living in your property aged 17 and above.

In the event you fall behind on your repayments. the form gives lenders the right to evict these persons as well as yourself (the borrower).


A bid put forth by someone who's interested in purchasing your property.

Offers aren't legally binding and can be withdrawn at any time.

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P - T

Power Of Attorney

A legal document that gives one person (the attorney) the authority to act in power of someone else (the principal).

The attorney’s legal authority can allow them to make decisions regarding the principal’s property. Usually this is used when a principal becomes ill, disabled or isn’t able to sign the necessary documents.

Preliminary Enquiries

The first set of questions a buyer’s solicitor puts to a property's seller.

These could be to do with boundaries, management costs, legal restrictions - a whole host of reasons!

Probate/ Grant Of Probate

The process of acquiring the legal authority to deal with/ legally secure any assets (such as property) that someone has left behind when they die - in most cases you can't sell a property without it.

Property Portfolio

The roster of houses held by a property investor and/ or landlord. Property portfolios come in all shapes and sizes.

Some may be small in number (2 -10 properties) whereas others may be larger (20 properties +).

Equally, some may contain larger family homes while others contain flats or maisonettes. The type of portfolio ultimately depends on the investor's strategy.

Redemption Figure

The cost of fully repaying a mortgage, including interest and any early redemption fees.

Refinance/ re-mortgaging

When you make changes to your existing mortgage/ credit agreement to benefit from a lower interest rate or withdraw a portion of your equity.

Redoing house payments are useful tools for both property investors and anyone looking for extra cash to start a business or fund some pricey home improvements.

Various legal fees and financial penalties may apply, however these costs are often something that your new lender is willing to cover. 


Your mortgage lender taking legal possession of your house because you've fallen behind on repayments. Evictions are often a consequence of repossessions.


An acronym standing for 'Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors' - an esteemed international body that prides itself in maintaining the highest standards in property valuation.


A collection of enquiries made by your solicitor with the land registry and local authority to ensure the property you're buying isn't under threat or going to be effected by any current or future projects in the area.

Searches are another fee that we cover if you sell your property to us - typically this cost would be between £250 and £300.

Section 8 Notice

The first step a landlord takes when looking to evict a tenant that hasn't paid their rent. If a landlord is granted a Section 8 notice, the next step is for them to take the issue to court.

Section 21 Notice

A similar notice to Section 8 (above) only a landlord does not have to give any specific reason for serving this notice.

They also can't apply for a Section 21 until at least 4 months into a tenancy.

By law landlords must supply a tenant with 4 key documents at the start of their tenancy: an AST, valid gas safety certificate, copy of the EPC and a copy of the 'How To Rent' checklist.

Fail to do this and they cannot issue the Section 21 notice. 

Share of Freehold

Owning a share of a building's freehold through a management company or in your personal name; 'share of freehold' properties are typically flats.

Owning a share of freehold property means you (and your fellow freeholders) have the joint responsibility for the building's maintenance and upkeep - a factor that most lenders regard as an added risk, which is why 'share of freehold mortgage are often hard to come by.

Smart Meter

A high tech replacement for a standard meter that enables you to monitor the efficiency of your home.

Although it is worth noting that smart meters do require you to track your own meter readings and submit them to your energy provider... bit of a nuisance.


When an owner buys more shares in their property as part of the shared ownership scheme.

The greater amount of shares they buy in their property, the less rent they pay the housing association.

Continue to do so and the owner can ‘staircase’ their way to being the outright owner of their property.

Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT)

Tax paid by the buyer on a property purchase. Stamp duty rates fluctuate and can cost anything between 1% - 12%.

You'll have to pay an additional stamp duty charge of 3% if you're buying a second house, providing it costs over £40,000.

Subject to Contract

An agreement between the buyer and seller that is not legally binding. If a property is Sold subject to contract, either party can pull out at any time.


When an existing tenant rents out all/ part of a property to someone known as the subtenant. Another word for subletting is Rent To Rent


When the land under a house sinks, causing the foundations to become misaligned; subsidence can be a larger problem is areas that have been heavily mined and can dramatically affect a property's value. Hence why properties diagnosed with subsidence are usually unmortgageable.

Tenants in Common

A form of joint property ownership where each co-owner owns a share of the property (not always an equal share).

In the event that one owner dies (god forbid) their share is inherited by their heirs, not the co-owners.


The conditions under which a property is held or occupied - i.e. is is freehold, leasehold, share of freehold?

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U - Z


All the services required to run a home, such as electricity, gas and water. Remember, even if you're not living in a house you MUST continue to pay your utility bills, even if you're selling.


Another name for a property's seller. 

Wayleave Agreement

An agreement to allow power companies to run their equipment over your property with the purpose of providing power. 


The income generated by a rental property on a yearly basis; yields are typically expressed as a percentage of a property's value. So for instance, if your property is worth £200,000 and provides you with an annual rental income of £12,000, your yield will be 6%. 

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