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Buying and Selling Glossary of Terms

A

Advance: Mortgage Loan.

APRC: Annual Percentage Rate of Charge, total cost of the credit to the consumer, expressed as an annual percentage of the total amount of credit, including interest and other charges applying.

Application Fee: A charge by a lender to cover the initial costs of processing a loan application.

Auction: The sale of a property to the highest bidder.

B

Balance Outstanding: The amount of loan owed at a particular time.

Bridging Loan: A temporary loan advanced to help buy a new property before the existing one has been sold.

Buildings Insurance: Insurance against the cost of repair or rebuilding a property from scratch following structural damage, for example by flood, fire or storm.

C

Chain: A number of linked property sales where exchange of contracts must take place simultaneously.

Closing Date: The date set for submission of offers when more than one party show interest in the property.

Completion Date: Completion of the legal transaction with all monies and documents having been distributed. This is also when the seller's solicitor will instruct the estate agent to release the keys.

Conclusion: See under 'Subject to contracts exchanged'

Contents Insurance: Insurance against accidental damage or theft of all moveable contents, including furniture, appliances and soft furnishings.

Contract: A formal agreement between the buyer and the seller, usually prepared by a solicitor or licensed conveyancer, detailing the terms and conditions of the sale.

Conveyancer: Person other than a solicitor who may conduct the conveyancing.

Conveyancing: The legal work involved in buying and selling properties.

Council Tax: Levied by local councils to cover the cost of local amenities and services.

Covenant: A condition, contained within the Title Deeds or lease, that the buyer must comply with, which is usually applied to all future owners of the property. A restrictive covenant is one that prohibits the owner from doing something.

D

Deeds: Legal documents assigning ownership of a property and/or land.

Deposit: Sum of money that represents the personal capital that the buyer is putting toward the purchase of the property.

Disbursements: Fees, such as Stamp Duty, Land Registry and search fees on top of conveyancing which you normally pay via your solicitor.

Draft Contract: Unconfirmed version of the contract.

E

Early Repayment Charge: A charge made by the lender if the borrower terminates a mortgage in advance of the terms of the particular mortgage. Normally occurs when the borrower has benefited from reduced payments or cash back in the early period of a mortgage.

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

Exchange of Contracts: The point at which the sale becomes legally binding from which neither party can withdraw without financial penalties - In Scotland see 'Missives Concluded'.

F

FIMBRA: Financial Intermediaries Managers & Brokers Regulatory Authority.

Fixed Price: Offers are invited at the price shown.

Fixtures and Fittings: All non-structural items included in the purchase of a property.

Freehold: Ownership of the property and land upon which the property is situated.

Full Structural Survey: A full structural survey looks at all the main features of the property, including walls, roof, foundations, plumbing, joinery, electrical wiring, drains, and garden.

G

Gazumping: The practice by a seller accepting a higher price than that previously agreed with someone else.

Gazundering: The practice by a buyer lowering his offer just before exchange of contracts.

Ground rent: The annual fee which a leaseholder pays to a freeholder.

H

Home Buyers Report: The homebuyer's report comments on the structural condition of most parts of the property that are readily accessible, but does not involve in-depth investigation or the testing of water, drainage or heating systems.

Housing Association: A non-profit making body which lets you buy a percentage of the property and pay rent on the rest.

I

IFA: Independent Financial Advisor.

IMRO: Investments Managers Regulatory Organisation. Regulates investment managers.

Instruction: When a seller instructs an estate agent to market a property.

J

Joint Agency: Where two estate agents work together to market a property.

Joint Mortgage: A mortgage where there is more than one individual named responsible for the mortgage.

L

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.

Law of Intestacy: Refers to the body of law that decides who is entitled to the property under the rules of inheritance.

Leasehold: To be given ownership of a property but not the land it is built on. This normally requires payment of ground rent to the landlord. A leasehold is normally offered for either 999 years, 99 years or shorter terms.

Legal Charge: This term is used for the security that a lender relies on when granting a mortgage.

Local Authority Search: An application made to the appropriate Local Authority requesting details of any planning or other matters which might affect the property being sold.

M

Maintenance Charge: A charge made towards the upkeep of a leasehold property.

Missives Concluded: Scotland only. The solicitors must agree on the written negotiations of the sale - the 'missives'. This can only be done once a mortgage offer is received. When the missives are agreed, this is known as 'conclusion of missives'. Both parties are now legally bound to the sale/purchase.

Mortgage: A loan that is secured against your property.

Mortgagee: The lender of a mortgage.

Mortgagor: The house buyer who takes out a mortgage (the borrower)

Mortgage Deed: A legal document relating to the mortgage lenders interest in the property.

Mortgage Offer: A formal written offer made by a bank or building society to lend an approved amount to purchase a property.

Mortgage Term: This refers to the agreed period of time for your mortgage to be repaid.

Multi-Agency: The selection of two or more estate agents to act on the seller's behalf, usually incurring a higher fee than if the sale is completed by a sole agency.

N

Negative Equity: When the value of a property is less than the outstanding sum owed on a mortgage.

O

Offer: A bid made by a prospective buyer, this offer however is not legally binding.

Offers Over: Offers are invited above the price shown.

Ombudsman: Independent professional bodies who investigate complaints on behalf of customers against estate agents, solicitors and insurance companies.

P

Part-possession: The term used when a property is being sold, where a tenant has legal right of occupation.

Private Treaty: The way in which most house sales are completed in England and Wales.

Property: Your home or the property you wish to sell or buy.

R

Release of Mortgage: When your lender releases a mortgage, this means that the loan balance has been paid off. A release of a mortgage is the removal of the lender's lien on your home.

Repayment Mortgage: Your monthly repayment includes part interest and part capital repayment. So long as you meet all of the payments required by the lender on time, your mortgage will gradually reduce until it is repaid in full at the end of the mortgage term.

Repossession: When loans are in default the mortgage lender can repossess the property and sell it so they can repay the debt.

Retention: Holding back part of a mortgage loan until repairs to the property are satisfactorily completed.

S

Sale Agreed: A verbal agreement from the seller.

Satisfaction of Mortgage: This document is issued by the lender of the mortgage once the mortgage has been paid in full. This is also known as the ‘release of mortgage’.

Searches: Checks of local council records for planning applications and restrictions, etc.

Sole Agency: The seller chooses a single estate agent to act on their behalf, incurring a lower fee than multi-agency.

Solicitor: Legal expert handling all documentation for the sale and purchase of a property.

Stamp Duty: A tax paid to the Government by the buyer upon completion.

Subject to Contract: Words used to indicate that an agreement is not yet legally Binding.

Survey: An inspection made by a qualified surveyor. There are three main types of survey. Valuation report (for mortgage purposes), Homebuyers report (also comments on general condition) and Full Structural survey (examines structural detail).

T

Tenants: People living in a property owned by someone else.

Tender: The process whereby the seller asks for written offers on a property usually with a set closing date. When a property is sold by tender, the buyer pays the fees.

Title: The legal ownership of a property.

Title Deeds: The legal document which outlines the ownership of property and land.

Transfer Deeds: The Land Registry document that transfers legal ownership from seller to buyer.

U

Under Offer: When the seller has accepted an offer on the property but contracts have not yet been exchanged.

V

Variable Interest Rate: Rate of interest payment that fluctuates over time in line with general interest rates.

Vendor: The legal name sometimes used to describe the seller of the property.

Verbal Offer: Offer from prospective purchaser, not legally binding on either party.

W

Writ: Mode of commencing legal proceedings.

X

X: Exchange.

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