Property jargon-buster

The property industry can be a minefield of jargon for those who aren’t in the know, so get clued up with our guide below.


Accidental Damage Home insurance term indicating sudden, unexpected and visible damage which has not been caused on purpose.

Appraised Value The value of a property as estimated by a surveyor.

Appreciation The increase in the value of a property as a result of changes in market conditions, such as inflation.


Buildings (Insurance) Home insurance term, which at MORE TH>N refers to the home, fixtures and fittings, patios, paved terraces, footpaths, tennis courts, swimming pools, garden ponds, statues and fountains (permanently fixed into the ground), drives, walls, fences, hedges and gates. It does not include aerials and satellite receiving equipment.

Bridging Loan A short-term loan commonly used to cover or 'bridge' the gap between the purchase of a new property and the sale of an existing one.


Chain When a buyer or seller needs to sell their existing property before purchasing a new one, creating a ‘chain’ situation.

Common Areas Areas which are shared between more than one resident, such as out-buildings and parking areas.

Completion Date The day in which a buyer becomes the legal owner of a new property (hooray!).

Conditions of Sale The terms agreed between the buyer and seller.

Contents (Insurance) At MORE TH>N Contents insurance covers household goods, personal items, jewellery, watches and items of precious metals, personal documents, clerical business equipment, aerials and satellite receiving equipment, bicycles and money up to a specified amount (detailed in a content insurance policy).

Conveyancer A property lawyer or solicitor who manages all of the legal aspects of selling or buying a property.

Conveyancing The legal process of buying or selling a property and transferring ownership.

Covenants An agreement where a buyer of a property agrees to comply with the rules and conditions affecting the property as set out in the Lease.


Deed(s) Legal documents proving ownership of a property.

Depreciation The decline or reduction in the value of a property caused by changes in market conditions.

Disbursements Fees paid by the buyer's solicitor on the buyer's behalf such as stamp duty, land registry and search fees.


EPC Energy Performance Certificates provide information about a property’s energy use and typical energy costs, rated from A (most efficient) to G; valid for 10 years.

Equity Also known as capital, Equity is how much of the property you own (the difference between the value of your home and the mortgage you still owe).

Exchange of Contracts When signed contracts are physically exchanged, legally binding the seller and buyer to the sale and purchase of a property at the agreed price.


Flying Freehold When one part of a property extends over, or under, a neighbouring property.

Freehold If you own a property on a freehold basis, you own the property and the lands that it stands on.


Gazumping When a seller accepts a higher offer from a third party despite agreeing to sell to someone else (prior to the exchange of contracts).

Gazundering When a buyer reduces their agreed offer prior to the exchange of contracts.


Heave Upward and or lateral movement of the site on which your buildings stand, caused by swelling of the ground.


Joint Tenants A form of ownership when a property is equally owned by two or more people, who have the equal, undivided right to keep or dispose of the property. The property automatically goes to the other owner(s) if one of them dies (regardless of the terms of the deceased owner's will).


Land Registry The government office that stores records of land ownership and any charges against the property, such as a mortgage.

Land Registry Fees Fees paid to register the ownership of property with the Land Registry.

Leasehold A type of ownership in which a person owns a property, but not the land on which it is built. The owner of the freehold grants a lease on the property for a specified period of time (how many years you’ll own the property).


Mortgage A loan taken out to buy property or land, ‘secured’ against the value of your home until it’s paid off. Most run for 25 years but the term can be shorter or longer.

Mortgage Deed The legal document that confers ownership or title to a property.


Searches A method of checking matters that may affect the value of the property; a Local Authority Search (covering items such as road maintenance and planning applications) is compulsory when you purchase a property.

Stamp Duty You'll have to pay Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT) if you buy a property in the UK over £125,000. The amount of stamp duty you have to pay depends on the value of the property, but there's a quick guide here and Stamp Duty calculators to help.

Subsidence Downward movement of the site on which your buildings stand by a cause other than the weight of the buildings themselves.

Survey This is done by a qualified building surveyor to check the structure for any faults.


Tenure Conditions under which a property is held (such as the length of lease).

Title Deeds Documents showing the legal ownership of a property. If there is a mortgage on the property then the deeds will be kept by the mortgage lender until fully paid.

(First published 2nd March 2015)

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