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Property Glossary


Welcome to the House Buy Fast Property Glossary. We've defined every conceivable property related word or legal term and put them all in one place for you.

Begin typing a word into the search box or use the alphabetical buttons below.


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A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

  1. A

  2. Acceptance


    Document confirming to a lender that a borrower wishes to accept a mortgage offer.

  3. Additional Security Fee


    Fee charged by some lenders to protect them against the borrower defaulting. Also known as Mortgage Indemnity Guarantee and Mortgage Indemnity Premium.

  4. Addendum


    An amendment or addition to the conditions whether contained in a supplement to the auction catalogue. This may be a written notice in the catalogue, or announced at the auction.

  5. Auction


    A public sale in which property or items of merchandise are sold to the highest bidder.

  6. Auctioneer


    The person who conducts an auction. The auctioneer introduces each lot offered for sale, acknowledges bids, and announces whether lots are sold or unsold and their final bid prices.

  7. Auction Catalogue


    The catalogue gives a description of the property, details on how to view each property and the General Conditions of Sale. These are prepared by the auctioneer, stating the basis on which the auction is carried out.

  8. Actual Completion Date


    The date when completion takes place or is treated as taking place for the purposes of apportionment and calculating interest.

  9. Advance


    Monies provided by a lender to a borrower and secured on the property as part of the mortgage debt.

  10. Agreement


    Document outlining the terms agreed between the buyer and the seller and binding both parties to complete the sale/purchase transaction. Also known as Contract.

  11. Annual Percentage Rate (APR)


    Total cost of a loan expressed as an annual interest rate. Provides a useful comparison when reviewing mortgage offers.

  12. Arrangement Fee


    Fee charged by some lenders to cover the administration of arranging a loan.

  13. Arrears


    Amount that is overdue in relation to a mortgage, which may result in action by a lender to repossess the property.

  14. Asking Price


    Price set by the seller of a property as what they hope to achieve.

  15. Assignment


    Transfer of a right or claim to a property from one party to another.

  16. Adverse Possession


    Occupation of land inconsistent with the rights of the owner, without the permission of the owner.

  17. Alienation


    The transfer of property from one party to another.


  18. B

  19. Base Rate


    Interest rate set by the Bank of England. Variable mortgage rates will often be adjusted depending on movements in the Base Rate.

  20. Borrower


    Person who is obligated to repay a loan in accordance with its terms.

  21. Break Clause


    Defines the point at which a contract may be terminated.

  22. Bridging Loan


    Temporary loan designed to enable a property to be purchased prior to the sale of another property.

  23. Buildings Insurance


    Insurance policy required by lenders and designed to cover any structural damage to a property.

  24. Building Survey


    Detailed report on the construction and any defects of a property, following a thorough inspection carried out by a Chartered Surveyor. Also known as a Structural Survey.

  25. Beneficial Interest


    The rights of a beneficiary in respect of property under a trust. It is a particular type of equitable interest.

  26. Buyer


    Person who is buying a property. Also known as the Purchaser.

  27. Buy To Let Mortgage


    Mortgage designed for buying property that is intended to be rented to tenants for investment purposes.

  28. Bid


    The offer to buy property at a specific price.


  29. C

  30. Capital


    Amount borrowed on which interest is calculated.

  31. Chain


    Occurs where successive buyers and sellers are linked together and reliant upon one another to complete the transaction.

  32. Charge


    Security in the property relied upon by lenders when granting a mortgage.

  33. Chartered Surveyor


    Suitably qualified person employed to carry out a Building Survey and report on the condition of a property.

  34. Collateral


    Property pledged as a guarantee for the repayment of a mortgage.

  35. Commission


    Fee payable to an estate agent, usually a percentage of the property price, for providing certain services in relation to the transaction.

  36. Completion


    Point at which legal transfer of property ownership passes from one party to another.

  37. Conditions Of Sale


    Terms defined in the contract and which determine the rights and duties of the buyer and seller.

  38. Contents Insurance


    Optional insurance policy designed to cover any loss or damage to possessions within the property.

  39. Caveat Emptor


    Latin for let the buyer beware.

  40. Chattel


    An item of personal property (as opposed to real property).

  41. Commonhold


    A system of freehold ownership of units suitable for interdependent buildings such as blocks of flats, based on Australian strata title.

  42. Common Law


    Rules of law developed from the decisions of the courts of common law.

  43. Constructive Trust


    A trust imposed by equity (qv) to protect the interests of beneficiaries under a trust.

    Unlike an implied trust, it is not normally based on the presumed intention of the parties, but is a device to prevent injustice.

  44. Contingent interest


    An interest that can only come into existence on the occurrence of a specified event, e.g. marriage.

    It cannot be a legal estate, but takes effect as an equitable interest under a settlement.

  45. Covenant


    A promise contained in a deed (e.g. a clause in a lease). The person with the benefit is the covenantee, the person with the burden is the covenantor.

  46. Contract


    Document outlining the terms agreed between the buyer and the seller and binding both parties to complete the sale/purchase transaction. Also known as Agreement.

  47. Contract Race


    Occurs when two or more parties attempt to purchase the same property and the Vendor will sell to the first party to exchange contracts.

  48. Conveyancer


    Suitably qualified person, such as a solicitor or licensed conveyancer, who handles the legal and administrative process of transferring ownership of a property from one person to another.

  49. Conveyancing


    Legal work involved in transferring the ownership of a property from one person to another.

  50. Covenant


    Legal requirement incorporated in the Title requiring the owner to do, or not to do, something in relation to the property.


  51. D

  52. Declaration Of Trust


    Document that binds joint owners of a property with regards to the division of proceeds upon completion.

  53. Deed


    Legal documents proving ownership of a property. Also known as Title Deeds.

  54. Deposit


    Amount of money paid by the buyer to the seller on exchange of contracts in order to secure a property. Also known as Down Payment.

  55. Property Deeds


    Title deeds are paper documents showing the chain of ownership for land and property. They can include: conveyances, contracts for sale, wills, mortgages and leases.

  56. Determinable Fee


    An interest in land which will automatically come to an end on the occurrence of a specified event. After 1925 it can only exist as an equitable interest.

  57. Disposition


    A creation or transfer of an estate or interest in land.

  58. Detached


    Property that stands alone and has no shared walls with an adjoining property.

  59. Development


    Property that is either newly built or has been recently refurbished.

  60. Disbursements


    Third party costs relating to transaction paid out by solicitor to cover items such as Stamp Duty, Land Registry, Local Authorities, etc.

  61. Discharge


    Termination of a mortgage obligation when no further payments are required.

  62. Down Payment


    Amount of money paid by the buyer to the seller on exchange of contracts in order to secure a property. Also known as Deposit.

  63. Draft Contract


    Early version of the contract, which is then edited by the acting solicitors.


  64. E

  65. Early Redemption Charge


    Financial penalty charged by some lenders if the borrower terminates a mortgage early.

  66. Easement


    Right granted to someone other than the owner of a property such as a right of way over land or a right to maintain services under land.

  67. Endowment Mortgage


    Mortgage designed for monthly repayments to be paid into an endowment (life assurance) policy, which is used to pay off the loan at the end of the term.

  68. Engrossment


    Final copy of a document prepared by a solicitor for signing by the parties.

  69. Equity


    Owner's financial interest in a property, calculated as the difference between the market value of a property and the balance outstanding on the mortgage.

  70. Estate Agent


    Property professional who markets property on behalf of sellers and who charges a fee, usually a percentage of the selling price.

  71. Excess


    Fixed initial sum that the insured party must pay on any insurance claim.

  72. Exchange of Contracts


    Point at which signed contracts confirming the intention to transfer ownership between buyer and seller are physically exchanged and the parties become legally bound by the terms.

  73. Easement


    The right of the owner of one piece of land (the dominant tenement) to a benefit from other land (the servient tenement).

  74. Equitable interest


    A right recognised by the courts of equity, as distinct from a legal interest recognised by the courts of common law, e.g. an interest under a trust.

  75. Equity


    The part of English law originating from decisions of the Lord Chancellor, and later the Courts of Chancery, which grew up to provide a remedy where the common law was inadequate. It is now a regulated set of legal principles.

  76. Estate


    The character and duration of a person’s ownership of land.

  77. Estate Contract


    An agreement to create or convey a legal estate, e.g. an option to purchase.

  78. (Equitable) Estoppel


    A principle which prevents a person going back on a representation. A proprietary estoppel, which prevents a landowner denying that a claimant has acquired rights in his land where he (the landowner) has acquiesced and the claimant has incurred expenditure.

  79. Execution


    The process of signing, witnessing and attesting a deed.



  80. F

  81. Failed Valuation Survey


    When a lender turns down a mortgage application as a result of the surveyor's report.

  82. First Time Buyer


    Buyers who have not previously purchased a property.

  83. Fixed Rate Mortgage


    Mortgage with interest rates initially 'fixed' for a defined period.

  84. Fixtures & Fittings


    Those non-structural items in a property that should be listed to be included in a sale.

  85. Flying Freehold


    Where part of a freehold property overhangs a different freehold property or land.

  86. Freehold


    Absolute ownership of both a property and the land on which it stands indefinitely.

  87. Full Structural Survey


    Detailed report on construction and any defects of a property, following a thorough inspection carried out by a Chartered Surveyor.


  88. G

  89. Gazumping


    Where the seller has agreed an offer in principle on a property but then subsequently accepts a higher offer from another party.

  90. Gazundering


    Where the buyer has made an offer that has been accepted but then subsequently reduces the offer immediately prior to exchange of contracts.

  91. Guide Price


    A guide price gives an indication of the price that the property is expected to sell for and what the vendor is hoping to achieve.

  92. Ground Rent


    Fee paid annually by the leaseholder to the freeholder in order to occupy the land on which a property stands.

  93. Guarantor


    Person responsible for repaying a debt if the borrower defaults as required by some lenders.


  94. H

  95. Home Buyers Report


    Standard report conducted by a surveyor on behalf of a buyer to assess value and condition of a property, highlighting major defects.

  96. Home Condition Report


    An optional part of a Home Information Pack (HIP) providing an objective report on the condition of a property.

  97. Home Information Pack


    Previously compulsory information pack compiled by the seller prior to marketing a property for sale, containing specified information relating to a property.

  98. House Price Index


    Statistical method of representing changes in house prices over time.

  99. HMO (Home Of Multiple Occupation)


    An HMO is a House in Multiple Occupation, usually known as a flat let house.


  100. I

  101. Improvement Grant


    Grant made by a local authority towards the cost of repairing or improving a property.

  102. Independent Financial Advisor (IFA)


    Qualified person using specialised knowledge of the marketplace to select financial products to best suit the needs of their client.

  103. Individual Savings Account (ISA) Mortgage


    Mortgage designed for monthly repayments to be paid into an Individual Savings Account, which is used to pay off the loan at the end of the term.

  104. Instruction


    Engagement by a property owner of an estate agent to market the property.

  105. Insurance


    Protection against a specific loss over a period of time secured by payment of a regular premium.

  106. Interest Charge


    Fee charged by a lender on the borrower, calculated as a percentage of the amount borrowed.

  107. Interest Only Mortgage


    Mortgage where only the interest charges are repaid initially. Monthly instalments are invested by the buyer and repaid in full at the end of the term.


  108. J

  109. Joint Agents


    Two estate agents jointly instructed by a seller to market a property, usually with a shared fee.

  110. Joint Tenants


    Equal holding of a property between two or more persons. If one party dies, their share passes to the survivor(s).


  111. L

  112. Land Registry


    Government department responsible for recording ownership of land in England and Wales. Searches will be requested from the Land Registry by conveyancers as part of any property transaction.

  113. Land Registry Fees


    Set fee paid to Land Registry to register ownership of a property.

  114. Lease


    Possession of a property owned by another party for a specified time period. Also known as Tenancy.

  115. Lease Agreement


    Legal document detailing terms whereby the owner of a property grants rights to another party to occupy it for a specified period of time. Also known as Tenancy Agreement.

  116. Leasehold


    Ownership and right to occupy a property by way of a lease agreement for a given period of time subject to an annual payment of rent to the owner of the freehold.

  117. Legal pack


    The vendor's solicitors prepares a legal pack containing copies of all the legal papers that you and your solicitor are likely to need to make an informed decision about your lot.

    The pack should include (where applicable) copies of: special conditions of sale, title deeds, leases, office copy entries, searches, replies to pre-contract enquiries.

  118. Lender


    Institution that lends funds in order to assist the borrower with a property purchase.

  119. Lender's Legal Fees


    Fees incurred by the lender in arranging a mortgage and that are passed on to the borrower.

  120. Lessee


    Someone who holds the lease on a property. Also known as Tenant.

  121. Lessor


    Someone who grants a Lease on a property. Also known as Landlord.

  122. Lien


    Legal right or claim against a property as security for a debt.

  123. Listed Building


    Building that has been registered as being of special interest and has preservation orders on it.

  124. Loan To Value (LTV)


    Percentage indicating the ratio of a mortgage loan on a property to its market value.

  125. Local Authority Search


    Enquiries made to the local council regarding any future development issues that might affect a property and/or the surrounding area.

  126. Lot


    Each separate property described in the catalogue or (as the case may be) the property that the seller has agreed to sell and the buyer to buy.

  127. Land Charge


    An obligation imposed on a landowner in favour of a third party’s interest in the land.

    Registrable under the Land Charges Act 1972 at the Land Charges Registry if relating to unregistered land. Registrable at the Land Registry if relating to registered land.

  128. Legal Estate


    Freehold or leasehold ownership of land.

  129. Legal Interest


    A limited category of interests in land specifically stated by s.1(2) Law of Property Act 1925 to be legal interests, e.g. a legal mortgage.

  130. Licence


    (In land law.) Permission to enter or occupy land for an agreed purpose. The licensor gives such permission, the licensee is in receipt of the permission.

  131. Life Interest


    An interest in property which only lasts as long as the life of a particular person. It creates a settlement and can only exist as an equitable interest.


  132. M

  133. Maintenance Charge


    Charge to a tenant or leaseholder made by a landlord to cover costs of maintaining a property. Also known as Service Charge.

  134. Maisonette


    Property that comprises a portion of a larger building, usually arranged over more than one floor with its own private entrance.

  135. Mortgage


    Long-term loan used to fund the purchase of a property where the property is held as security.

  136. Mortgage Agreement in Principle (MAP)


    Lender's expression of intent to provide funding subject to certain conditions being met.

  137. Mortgage Deed


    Document containing the terms and conditions of a loan secured on a property.

  138. Mortgagee


    The lender of a mortgage.

  139. Mortgage Indemnity Guarantee (MIG)


    Fee charged by some lenders to protect them against the borrower defaulting. Also known as Mortgage Indemnity Premium (MIP) and Additional Security Fee.

  140. Mortgage Indemnity Premium (MIP)


    Fee charged by some lenders to protect them against the borrower defaulting. Also known as Mortgage Indemnity Guarantee (MIG) and Additional Security Fee.

  141. Mortgage Rate


    Standard variable interest rate quoted by all mortgage lenders. This varies in accordance with the Bank of England base rate.

  142. Mortgage Term


    Period of time over which a mortgage will be repaid.

  143. Mortgage Valuation


    Report commissioned by the lender to assess property value and determine maximum amount to be loaned on the security of a property.

  144. Mortgagor


    The borrower of a mortgage.

  145. Multiple Agency


    Where two or more estate agents are instructed by a seller to market a property. Only the agent who introduces a successful purchaser is paid.

  146. Minor Interest


    Interests in registered land which must be protected by registration.


  147. N

  148. Natural Rights


    Fundamental rights which automatically belong to a landowner, breach of which will be actionable in nuisance, e.g. right to support from the soil.

  149. Negative Equity


    Occurs when the market value of a property falls to a value less than the mortgage loan balance.

  150. NHBC (National House Building Council) Scheme


    A guarantee offered on some newly built homes for structural defects occurring within a specified time after construction.


  151. O

  152. Offer


    Indication from a potential buyer of a willingness to purchase a property at an indicated price. An offer is not legally binding in England and Wales and can be withdrawn or changed at any time prior to exchange of contracts.

  153. Ombudsman


    Independent body responsible for the investigation of complaints on behalf of consumers.

  154. Open Market Value


    Price that a property would likely achieve if it were available for sale.

  155. Overreaching


    The process by which interests in land are converted on a sale of land into rights in the proceeds of sale.

  156. Overriding Interest


    A right or interest in registered land which is binding on the Registered Proprietor and third parties without being registered, e.g. the rights of persons in actual occupation of the land.


  157. P

  158. Peppercorn Rent


    Nominal ground rent usually paid annually (or sometimes not at all) and of trivial amount.

  159. Pied-A-Terre


    Property kept for temporary or occasional occupation.

  160. Preliminary Enquiries


    Initial set of questions regarding a property that the seller must answer prior to exchange of contracts.

  161. Premium


    Amount payable on an insurance policy, usually paid monthly.

  162. Principal


    Amount borrowed from a lender on which interest is calculated.

  163. Public Liability Insurance


    Insurance to cover the injury or death or damage to property of anyone on or around your property.

  164. Purchaser


    Person who is buying a property. Also known as the Buyer.

  165. Previews Or Exhibitions


    A viewing of the property held in advance of the auction. Pre-auction viewings are open to the public and may be attended at no charge.

  166. Private Treaty


    The sale of a property at a price agreed by the seller and the buyer or their agents.

  167. Proxy Bid


    The auctioneers can undertake bidding on behalf of buyers unable to attend the auction in person. The buyers must contact the auction house prior to the auction to obtain an official, proxy bidding form.

    This must then be returned to the auction house with a deposit cheque within the time specified by the auctioneers.

    The buyer writes the maximum amount they will bid to on the form and the auctioneers will bid on behalf of the buyer, up to, but not beyond, the stated price.

  168. Part Performance


    (Not to be confused with specific performance.) An equitable doctrine which allowed an imperfect contract to be perfected where it had been acted upon (i.e. partly performed) by one of the parties.

    It was particularly applied to contracts for the sale of land, but has effectively been abolished in that context by the Law of Property (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1989.

  169. Prescription


    A method of acquiring an easement by long user.

  170. Priority Of Mortgages


    The order in which two or more mortgages over the same land will take effect.

  171. Privity


    The relationship between parties which results from them participating in the same transaction or occurrence; e.g. privity of contract (same agreement) and privity of estate (same legal estate).

  172. Profit Á Prendre


    The right to take produce from another’s land or to graze animals on it.

  173. Puisne Mortgage


    A legal mortgage in unregistered land in which the mortgagee does not keep the title deeds as security, e.g. a second or subsequent legal mortgage. It must be protected by registration.


  174. Q

  175. Quantum Meruit


    An obligation to pay a reasonable amount for labour and materials, payable even in the absence of an enforceable agreement.


  176. R

  177. Rectification


    Correction of a document.

  178. Redemption


    Completion of the full and final repayment of a mortgage.

  179. Redemption Figure


    Amount required to fully repay a mortgage including interest and any penalties.

  180. Redemption (Equity Of)


    The right of the mortgagor to redeem the property on repayment of the mortgage.

  181. Registered Land


    Land of which the ownership and third party rights affecting it are registered (recorded) at the Land Registry. Proof of ownership is via reference to the Land Registry entries.

  182. Remainder


    An equitable interest in land which only takes effect in possession when a prior interest ends.

  183. Repayment Mortgage


    Mortgage with monthly repayments consisting of capital combined with interest.

  184. Repossession


    Occurs when mortgage payments are in arrears and a lender chooses to take possession of the property that secures the loan.

  185. Residential Property


    Property occupied for private or domestic purposes.

  186. Restrictive Covenant


    A covenant which imposes a restriction on the use of land.

  187. Reserve


    A reserve price is the lowest price the vendor will accept. This is agreed between the vendor and the Auctioneer.

    Most properties entered into the auction have a reserve price. This is confidential and not disclosed to any interested parties.

  188. Retention


    Amount held back by a lender until certain specified works have been completed.

  189. Reversion


    The interest in land retained by a person who has granted someone else a lesser interest.


  190. S

  191. Sale Agreed Or Sold Subject To Contract (STC)


    An offer has been agreed by both buyer and seller and is now in solicitors hands.

  192. Sale Contract


    Legal agreement between a seller and an estate agent.

  193. Searches


    Enquiries made to the local authority and Land Registry for determining whether any matters adversely affect the property or the surrounding area.

  194. Security


    Property used to secure the mortgage loan.

  195. Seller


    Person who is selling a property. Also known as the Vendor.

  196. Semi-Detached


    Property where one side wall is shared with an adjoining property.

  197. Service Charge


    Charge to a tenant or leaseholder made by a landlord to cover costs of maintaining a property. Also known as Maintenance Charge.

  198. Sole Agency


    Where only one estate agent is instructed exclusively by a seller to market a property.

  199. Sole Selling Rights


    Where one estate agent has exclusive rights to market a property and is entitled to a fee irrespective of how the property is sold.

  200. Solicitor


    Professionally qualified legal expert who prepares documents for the sale or purchase of a property.

  201. Specific Performance


    An order of the court forcing a person to fulfil their contractual obligations.

  202. Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT)


    Tax paid to the government by a buyer on the purchase of a property.

  203. Standard Variable Rate (SVR) Mortgage


    Mortgage with interest rates that fluctuate at the discretion of the lender based on market conditions.

  204. Strict Settlement


    A trust which creates successive beneficial interests in land (usually with the object of keeping land in a particular family) and which brings it under the control of the Settled Land Act 1925.

  205. Structural Survey


    Detailed report on construction and any defects of a property, following a thorough inspection carried out by a Chartered Surveyor. Also known as a Building Survey.

  206. Studio Flat


    Flat consisting of one principle living area comprising both cooking and sleeping facilities with a separate bathroom/shower room.

  207. Subject To Contract


    Term used to indicate a provisional agreement prior to exchange of contracts that is not yet legally binding.

  208. Survey


    Report on the condition of a property.

  209. Surveyor


    Qualified expert who carries out the survey of a property.


  210. T

  211. Tenancy


    Possession of a property owned by another party for a specified time period.

  212. Tenancy Agreement


    Legal document detailing terms whereby the owner of a property grants rights to another party to occupy it for a specified period of time. Also known as Lease Agreement.

  213. Tenant


    Person (or entity) who is entitled to occupy a property under the terms of a Tenancy Agreement.

  214. Tenants In Common


    An optional method of shared home ownership (not necessarily in equal shares). If an owner dies, the owner's interest in the property is passed to the owner's heirs, rather than to the other owners of the property.

  215. Tenure


    Conditions on which a property is held, i.e. whether it is freehold or leasehold.

  216. Term Of Years Absolute


    A leasehold estate in land.

  217. Terraced


    Property where both side walls are shared with adjoining properties.

  218. Title


    Legal right to ownership of a property.

  219. Trust For Sale


    A trust under which the trustees are obliged to sell the property and hold the proceeds of sale on trust for the beneficiaries.

  220. Trust Of Land


    A trust under which the trustees have the power, but no obligation to sell the property.

    The property until sold and any subsequent proceeds of sale are held on trust for the beneficiary(ies).


  221. U

  222. Under Offer


    Status of a property from the point at which a seller has accepted an offer until exchange of contracts.

  223. Unregistered Land


    Land of which the ownership is not registered (recorded) at the Land Registry.

    Ownership is proved by reference to title deeds.


  224. V

  225. Vacant Possession


    Provision of a property that has been vacated by any previous occupants.

  226. Valuation


    Survey conducted by a suitably qualified professional such as a Chartered Surveyor to establish an estimate of the current market value of a property.

  227. Variable Base Rate


    Basic rate of interest charged on a mortgage that may change due to market conditions.

  228. Vendor


    Person who is selling a property. Also known as the Seller.


  229. W

  230. Withdrawn


    Failure to reach the reserve price or insufficient bidding. The auctioneer will withdraw the property from the auction.


  231. Y

  232. Yield


    Income generated from a property expressed as a percentage of the property value.



Disclaimer: Whilst this glossary has been compiled with considerable care, no guarantee can be made as to it's accuracy.