Helpful guides and advice on selling your home

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Estate Agent Terminology Explained

When it comes to selling your home, estate agents and the language that they use can be confusing. That’s why we’ve put together a comprehensive list of all the estate agent terms and property jargon that will help you understand what your estate agent means.

Take a look at our terminology glossary and if there’s anything you think we’ve missed, let us know.


  • - Advance – the amount of money that your lender agrees to lend you.
  • - APR – Annual Percentage Rate. This is the amount of interest you will pay on your loan.
  • - AST – Assured Shorthold Tenancy. It gives the landlord the right to claim their property back after a specific period of time.
  • - Auction – one of the quickest ways of buying a home. Exchange is seen as having happened when the auctioneer’s hammer comes down for the winning bid.


  • - Balance Outstanding – the amount of loan owed.
  • - Bridging Loan- a temporary loan given to help buy a new property before the existing one has sold.
  • - Break Clause/Release Clausethese terms are often used in fixed term tenancies.
  • - Buildings Insurancethis covers the cost of repair or rebuilding a property from scratch following structural damage or destruction.


  • - Chaina number of property sales where exchange of contracts must take place at the same time, because they’re linked together.
  • - Completion Datethe completion of the legal transaction, with the money and documents all distributed, and keys are released.
  • - Contents Insurancecovers accidental damage and theft of all moveable contents of your property.
  • - Contract the formal agreement between buyer and seller, prepared by the solicitor or conveyancer, detailing the terms and conditions of the sale.
  • - Conveyancingthe legal work behind buying and selling properties.
  • - Covenant the terms of any given tenancy agreement, including obligations of the tenant and the landlord.


  • - Deedsthe legal documents that assign ownership of property.
  • - Depositthe lump sum that the seller pays towards the cost of the property.
  • - Disbursementsexpenses paid by the solicitor on behalf of the purchaser.


  • - Early Repayment Charge – a charge made by the lender if the borrower pays off the mortgage before the terms of the loan.
  • - Equitythe difference between the value of a property and the amount of mortgage owed.
  • - Exchange of Contractsthis is the point at which the sale becomes legally binding and neither party can withdraw without financial penalties.


  • - Fixed Priceoffers for the price shown only.
  • - Fixtures and Fittingsnon-structural items included in the purchase.
  • - Freeholdownership of the property and the land that the property is situated on.
  • - Full Structural Surveythis looks at the main features of a property, including walls, roof, foundations, plumbing, joinery, electrical wiring, etc.


  • - Gazumpingthis is where the seller accepts one offer only to reject it later for a higher offer.
  • - Gazunderingthis is where a buyer reduces their offer just before the exchange of contracts.
  • - Ground Rent ground rent is an annual sum paid by the leaseholder to the freeholder of a property.
  • - Guarantorthis is a person who will agree to guarantee that they will repay a loan or debt if you cannot pay it.


  • - HMO – House in Multiple Occupation. They are treated differently to the average property, with more rules and regulations.
  • - Home Buyers Report a comment of the structural condition of the parts of the house that are readily accessible.
  • - Housing Associationthis is a not-for-profit organisation that lets you buy a percentage of the property and pay the rest on rent.


  • - IFAIndependent Financial Advisor
  • - IMRO - Investments Managers Regulatory Organisation
  • - Instruction this is when a seller tells an estate agent to market a property.
  • - Inventory – an inventory is a list of all the contents of a property, as well as the condition of a property and the structural fixtures, generally used for AST rental properties.


  • - Joint Tenantstwo or more people co-live in the property. If one were to die or leave, their share of the property passes to the other/s.
  • - Joint Agencywhere two estate agents work together on marketing a property.
  • - Joint Mortgage - where more than one individual is responsible for the mortgage.


  • - Land Certificatea land registry certificate proving ownership of property.
  • - Land Registrythe government organisation that holds records of all registered properties in England and Wales
  • - LAUTROLife Assurance Unit Trust Regulatory Organisation
  • - LeaseholdTo be given ownership of a property but not the land that it is built on, normally requiring the payment of ground rent to the landlord.
  • - Local Authority Searcha number of different searches to find out if there are any Local Authority Notices with respect to the building that you intend on buying and the surrounding area.


  • - Maintenance Chargethis is a charge made towards the upkeep of a leasehold property to the landlord.
  • - Mortgage Deeda document that details the conditions of a mortgage secured on a property.
  • - Mortgage Offer a letter from the lender offering you the loan and its conditions.


  • - Negative Equitythis is when the value of the property is less than the outstanding sum owed on a mortgage.


  • - Offerwhen you make an offer for a property, you put in a bid of the price that you’d like to pay for the property.


  • - PCMthis stands for Per Calendar Month and refers to the rent due each month on a rental property.


  • - Repayment Mortgage – monthly repayments pay off the capital and the mortgage/loan.
  • - Repossessionif you fail to repay your mortgage, then the lender can repossess the property and sell it to make back the debt.


  • - Searcheschecks of local council records for planning applications and restrictions.
  • - Stamp Dutya government tax paid by the buyer on completion of the sale.
  • - Subject to Contracta term associated with an agreement to purchase a property before the exchange of contracts.
  • - Surveyan inspection of a property made by a qualified surveyor. This can be a valuation report, a homebuyers report and full structural survey.


  • - Tenancy Agreementalso known as rental agreement, this is the terms and conditions of a tenancy.
  • - Tenantspeople living in a property owned by a landlord.
  • - Titlethe legal right to ownership of a property.


  • - Under Offer this is when the seller has accepted an offer on their property but the contracts have not been exchanged yet.


  • - Vendoralso known as the seller.