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.




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


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.


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


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.

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.


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


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.

Annual Percentage Rate (APR)

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

Arrangement Fee

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


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

Asking Price

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


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

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Base Rate

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


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

Bridging Loan

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

Buildings Insurance

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

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.


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

Buy To Let Mortgage

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


The offer to buy property at a specific price.

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Amount borrowed on which interest is calculated.


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


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

Chartered Surveyor

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


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


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

Conditions Of Sale

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

Contents Insurance

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

Caveat Emptor

Latin for let the buyer beware.


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


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

Common Law

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


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.


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.

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.


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.


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


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

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


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.

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.


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


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


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

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.

Draft Contract

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

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Early Redemption Charge

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


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.

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.


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


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.

Estate Agent

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

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.


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

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.


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.


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

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First Time Buyer

Buyers who have not previously purchased a property.

Fixed Rate Mortgage

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

Fixtures & Fittings

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

Flying Freehold

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


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

Full Structural Survey

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

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


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

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.

Ground Rent

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


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

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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.

Home Condition Report

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

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.

House Price Index

Statistical method of representing changes in house prices over time.

HMO (Home Of Multiple Occupation)

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

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Improvement Grant

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

Independent Financial Advisor (IFA)

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


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


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

Interest Charge

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

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.

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Joint Agents

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

Joint Tenants

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

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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.

Land Registry Fees

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


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

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.


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.

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.


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

Lender's Legal Fees

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


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


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

Listed Building

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

Loan To Value (LTV)

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

Local Authority Search

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


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.

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.

Legal Estate

Freehold or leasehold ownership of land.

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.

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Maintenance Charge

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


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


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

Mortgage Agreement in Principle (MAP)

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

Mortgage Deed

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


The lender of a mortgage.

Mortgage Rate

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

Mortgage Term

Period of time over which a mortgage will be repaid.

Mortgage Valuation

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


The borrower of a mortgage.

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.

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Negative Equity

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

NHBC (National House Building Council) Scheme

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

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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.


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

Open Market Value

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

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.

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Peppercorn Rent

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


Property kept for temporary or occasional occupation.

Preliminary Enquiries

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


Amount payable on an insurance policy, usually paid monthly.


Amount borrowed from a lender on which interest is calculated.

Public Liability Insurance

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


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

Private Treaty

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

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Completion of the full and final repayment of a mortgage.

Redemption Figure

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

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.

Repayment Mortgage

Mortgage with monthly repayments consisting of capital combined with interest.


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

Residential Property

Property occupied for private or domestic purposes.

Restrictive Covenant

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


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.


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


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

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Sale Agreed Or Sold Subject To Contract (STC)

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

Sale Contract

Legal agreement between a seller and an estate agent.


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


Property used to secure the mortgage loan.


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


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

Service Charge

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

Sole Agency

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

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.


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

Specific Performance

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

Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT)

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

Standard Variable Rate (SVR) Mortgage

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

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.

Studio Flat

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

Subject To Contract

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


Report on the condition of a property.


Qualified expert who carries out the survey of a property.

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

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.


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

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.


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

Term Of Years Absolute

A leasehold estate in land.


Property where both side walls are shared with adjoining properties.


Legal right to ownership of a property.

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.

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).

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Under Offer

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

Unregistered Land

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

Ownership is proved by reference to title deeds.

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Vacant Possession

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


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

Variable Base Rate

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


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

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

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

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

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