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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 Clause – these terms are often used in fixed term tenancies.
  • Buildings Insurance – this covers the cost of repair or rebuilding a property from scratch following structural damage or destruction.


  • Chain – a number of property sales where exchange of contracts must take place at the same time, because they’re linked together.
  • Completion Date – the completion of the legal transaction, with the money and documents all distributed, and keys are released.
  • Contents Insurance – covers 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.
  • Conveyancing – the legal work behind buying and selling properties.
  • Covenant – the terms of any given tenancy agreement, including obligations of the tenant and the landlord.


  • Deeds – the legal documents that assign ownership of property.
  • Deposit – the lump sum that the seller pays towards the cost of the property.
  • Disbursements – expenses 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.
  • Equity – the difference between the value of a property and the amount of mortgage owed.
  • Exchange of Contracts – this is the point at which the sale becomes legally binding and neither party can withdraw without financial penalties.


  • Fixed Price – offers for the price shown only.
  • Fixtures and Fittings – non-structural items included in the purchase.
  • Freehold – ownership of the property and the land that the property is situated on.
  • Full Structural Survey – this looks at the main features of a property, including walls, roof, foundations, plumbing, joinery, electrical wiring, etc.


  • Gazumping – this is where the seller accepts one offer only to reject it later for a higher offer.
  • Gazundering – this 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.
  • Guarantor – this 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 Association – this is a not-for-profit organisation that lets you buy a percentage of the property and pay the rest on rent.


  • IFA – Independent 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 Tenants – two 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 Agency – where two estate agents work together on marketing a property.
  • Joint Mortgage - where more than one individual is responsible for the mortgage.


  • Land Certificate – a land registry certificate proving ownership of property.
  • Land Registry – the government organisation that holds records of all registered properties in England and Wales
  • LAUTRO – Life Assurance Unit Trust Regulatory Organisation
  • Leasehold – To 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 Search – a 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 Charge – this is a charge made towards the upkeep of a leasehold property to the landlord.
  • Mortgage Deed – a 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 Equity – this is when the value of the property is less than the outstanding sum owed on a mortgage.


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


  • PCM – this 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.
  • Repossession – if you fail to repay your mortgage, then the lender can repossess the property and sell it to make back the debt.


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


  • Tenancy Agreement – also known as rental agreement, this is the terms and conditions of a tenancy.
  • Tenants – people living in a property owned by a landlord.
  • Title – the 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.


  • Vendor – also known as the seller.