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Property Jargon

Property can be a complicated topic, check out the glossary below for any terms you don’t understand.

Application Fee – Costs involved in processing a mortgage application, paid by the buyer to the lender.

Annual Percentage Rate (APR) – Total cost of the loan over the entire term, to including interest and fees, shown as a percentage rate. The APR is intended to help you compare different types of mortgages from different lenders.

Applicant – person or party looking to rent a property.

Appraised value – estimated value of a property by a surveyor.

Appreciation – increase in the value of a property due to market conditions.

Auction – public sale in which a property is sold to the highest bidder.

Blog - an online journal displaying new entries in a reverse chronological order. Can be used to launch something of particular, link to other sites of interest e.g. new reports, reply to comments made by the general public.

Break Clause – a term in a tenancy agreement that allows a tenant to leave before the tenancy period comes to an end, without incurring a financial penalty.

Bridging Loan - short-term loan used in the interim until the next stage of financing can be obtained.

Building Survey – most detailed type of survey that’s completed by a chartered surveyor, arranged by the buyer. Normally undertaken if buying an older property, one which needs substantial refurbishment or where there have been structural problems in the past.

Buildings Insurance – covers your home and its fixtures and fittings against loss or damage caused by events such as a fire, storm, flood and subsidence. It also covers less common causes of damage such as theft, vandalism or damage to your property caused by vehicle collision.

Buy-to-Let Mortgage – specifically designed for investors to borrow money to purchase property in private rented sector in order to let it out to tenants.

Capital – also known as equity, amount of money/ deposit put into buying a property.

Capped-rate Mortgage – the interest rate is linked to your lenders standard variable rate but with a guarantee that it won’t go above a set level (‘cap’) for a set period, but equally won’t go below a set level for an agreed period of time.

Chain – when a buyer is dependent upon completion of the sale of their existing property in order to complete on the purchase of a new property and so on in a sequence of linked house purchases.

Commission – a sum paid to the agent for business undertaken.

Common Areas – areas available for use by more than one resident/tenant e.g. driveways, gardens, corridors, stairways, elevators.

Completion date – contractually bound date, agreed between buyer and seller, where the buyer receives the keys to the new property and the money is forwarded to the seller’s solicitor.

Conditions of Sale – contractual obligations between buyer and seller.

Contents Insurance – covers household goods and personal belongings against loss or damage caused by risks such as fire, theft, storm or flood.

Contract – legal agreement between buyer and seller prepared by a solicitor, detailing the terms and conditions of the sale.

Conveyancing – transfer of legal title of property from one person to another, normally subject to a fee for the legal process necessary for the transfer of ownership.

Covenants – conditions governing the property, contained in the title deeds or lease.

Credit Scoring – procedure that the lender carries out on your mortgage application. This helps them decide whether to accept your application, the amount they are prepared to lend you and what rate of interest you’ll pay. This works by awarding points based on your circumstances. You will generally earn more points if you’ve been in your job longer, own your own home and have paid off all your loans on time in the past.

Deeds – a formal document that confirms or transfers interest or right of ownership of a property from one person to another.

Deflation – decrease in the general price level of property.

Deposit – a returnable sum of money paid to cover possible loss or damage, paid to the landlord by the tenant prior to moving in.

Depreciation - reduction in value of a property over a period of time.

Dilapidations – a rented property in a state of disrepair or ruin.

Disbursements – amounts paid for goods and services on behalf of the buyer usually by their solicitor e.g. stamp duty, land registry and search fees.

Down valuation – whereby a surveyor undervalues a property and the lender restricts amount you can borrow.

Draft contract – initial version of the contract drawn up before final version is agreed.

Early Repayment Charge (ERC) – a charge you may have to pay if you want to pay off your mortgage before the end of a set period.

Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) – introduced to improve the energy efficiency of buildings, measured on a A-G scale. With ‘A’ being the most energy efficient and ‘G’ being the least. If you are buying or selling a home you now need a certificate by law.

Equity – the difference between the market value and the unpaid mortgage balance of a property.

Excess – sum paid on making an insurance claim.

Exchange of Contracts – when the contracts have been signed and physically exchanged, committing both the buyer and seller to this legally binding agreement.

Financial Services Authority (FSA) – regulator of all providers of financial services in the UK.

Fixed rate mortgage – monthly payment remains the same for a set period, even if other interest rates increase or decrease.

Freehold – ownership of the land in addition to the buildings on that land.

Furniture and Furnishings (Fire) (Safety) Regulations 1988 & 1993 (amendment) – regulations that set levels of fire resistance for domestic upholstered furniture, furnishings and other upholstered products. These regulations determine whether such products are compliant or not.

Gas Safety Regulations 1998 – before any tenancy or lease commences it must be ensured that a gas safety check has been carried out on each appliance by a CORGI registered engineer.

Gazumping – refusal to formalise a property sale agreement at the last minute, usually in order to accept a higher offer.

Gazundering – occurs during contract negotiation when the buyer demands a reduction in the sale price to secure the sale of the property, usually intended to prevent the seller from rejecting the lower price.

Ground Rent – regular payment required under a lease from the owner of leasehold property payable to the freeholder.

Guarantor – person appointed, on requirement by the lender, who assumes responsibility to pay the debt if the borrower defaults.

Higher lending charge – lenders sometimes charge a fee if your mortgage is a high percentage of the property’s value. This fee is used by your lender to buy insurance that protects them if they repossess your property and sell your home for less than the amount outstanding on your mortgage.

Home Information Pack (HIP) – contains important information that buyers and sellers need to know and include an index, Property Information Questionnaire, EPC, sale statement, local land charges, other information from local councils, details on drainage and water services, evidence of title. This is currently not applicable in Northern Ireland.

Homebuyer’s survey and valuation – detailed report carried out by a chartered surveyor assessing the state of a property and its value.

Houses in Multiple Occupancy (HMO) – where common areas exist and are shared by more than one household e.g. bathrooms, toilets, kitchen.

IFA – Independent Financial Advisor (link to Financial Services page).

Inflation – increase in the general price level of property.

Interest charges – fee paid on borrowed money, calculated as a percentage on the amount borrowed.

Interest only mortgage – borrower pays only the interest charged on the loan for the duration of its term, therefore not actually reducing the loan itself.

Inventory – a list of standard items provided in a furnished property. This should be agreed, signed and dated both by the landlord/agent and the tenant/tenants. It will serve as a check list when ending the tenancy should a dispute arise as to the condition of the contents.

Joint Agency – where two agents are appointed to market a property and where both receive a share of the agreed fee in the event of the introduction of a buyer, at a price acceptable to the vendor.

Joint Tenants – a tenancy agreement whereby one tenant has a right of survivorship to the property upon the death of the other tenant, giving them full ownership.

Land Certificate – certificate issued by Land Registry giving details of who owns the land.

Land Registration – registering the legal title of an area of land, applicable to a fee.

Landlord – a person who leases land or property.

Lease – a legal contract by which one party conveys land or property to another for a specified time, in return for payment.

Leasehold – the holding of a property/land by lease.

Lender – the party offering a loan e.g. bank, building society or mortgage company, applicable to a lending fee.

Let-to-Buy Mortgage – allows you to borrow money to buy a new home to move into, while your existing residence is let out to tenants.

Listed Building – building that has certain characteristics related to age, rarity, architectural merit and/ or method of construction. A listed building cannot be demolished, extended or altered without special permission from the local planning authority.

Loan to value (LTV) – calculated percentage of the appraised value of the property over the mortgage loan.

Local Authority Search – a checking procedure with the local council to obtain information on any charges, responsibilities or future developments you will be taking on when exchanging contracts.

Maintenance Charge – also known as service charge, covering the cost of repairing and maintaining the external and/or internal parts of a communal building, payable to the landlord.

Marketing Package – effective package aimed at marketing the property for sale, to include boards, brochures, newspaper advertisements, photographs etc.

Money Laundering – financial crime of processing illegally gained money.

Mortgage – a long term loan secured by a property and paid in instalments over a set period of time to the lender.

Mortgage Payment Protection Insurance (MPPI) – cover for accident, sickness, involuntary unemployment etc, in respect of your mortgage repayments.

Mortgage Broker – acting as an intermediary who sells mortgage loans on behalf of individuals or businesses.

Mortgage deed – a document which gives a lender the legal right and interest in a property.

Mortgage offer – written offer to lend money on a property, containing all terms and conditions of the loan.

Mortgage rate – the interest rate paid to obtain a mortgage or borrow funds from an lender in order to purchase property.

Mortgage term – period of time the mortgage is to be repaid according to the lenders contract.

NHBC Scheme (National House-Building Council) – standard setting body for new and newly converted homes in the UK.

Negative Equity – if the value of your property falls below the amount you owe on your mortgage.

Offer – fundamental part of a contract, whereby the tenant offers to pay a sum of money as rent to the landlord, or whereby a buyer offers a sum of money to purchase property from the seller.

Open market value – best price which is reasonably expected to be obtained for an interest in a property, between a buyer and seller.

Payment holiday – some mortgages allow you to stop making monthly payments on your mortgage for a limited period, useful if your income falls for a period of time.

Pied a terre – a property used for occasional or secondary lodging.

Portable Appliance Test (PAT) – electrical testing by a certified engineer on any piece of equipment with a plug to inspect if they are safe in conjunction with the Electrical Equipment (Safety) Regulations 1994.

Premium – amount of money payable for an insurance policy.

Public liability insurance – insurance against damages, awarded because of injury or damage to property.

Remortgage – moving your mortgage to a new lender mainly to take advantage of a better mortgage rate.

Repayment mortgage – where your monthly payments to the lender go towards reducing the amount you owe as well as repaying the interest they charge. This means that each month you are paying off a small part of your mortgage.

Repossession – where the lender reclaims ownership of the property for which payment remains due.

Right-to-Buy – allows council house tenants to buy their property if they’re eligible.

Sale Agreed - The status of a property for sale, when the vendor has verbally accepted an offer from a buyer but contracts have not yet been exchanged.

SMS – Short Message Service and is commonly known as ‘text messaging’.

Semi-Detached – A pair of house joined by a common wall.

Service Charge - also known as maintenance charge, covering the cost of repairing and maintaining the external and/or internal parts of a communal building, payable to the landlord.

Short Let – When a property is let for a short period usually less than six months.

Sitting Tenant - When someone owns a property and rents to someone else, and then you sell that property while it is still under contract to the tenants, they have the right to remain in that property.

Sole Agent – When only one agent is authorised to sell a property.

Solicitor - A member of the legal profession who will handle all documentation for the sale or purchase of a property.

Stamp Duty – A tax paid by the purchaser of a property which is calculated depending on the value of the property.

Standard variable rate – This is a standard interest rate which a lender will set and can go up or down in line with market rates.

Structural survey - A thorough examination of a property by a qualified surveyor.

Studio Flat - A flat consisting of one main room or open-plan living area incorporating cooking and sleeping facilities and a separate bathroom/shower room.

Subject to Contract – The period during which the sale is agreed but there is not yet a legal contract.

Survey – An inspection on a property carried out by a qualified surveyor.

Surveyor – Professional person qualified to undertake a survey of a property and estimate value.

Tenancy – Occupancy of a property by a tenant for fixed period of time.

Tenancy Agreement - A tenancy agreement is a legal agreement in writing that sets out the rights and responsibilities of both landlord and tenant. It will contain details such as the length of the agreement, the rent payable, and what is and isn’t allowed in the property, such as pets.

Tenant – Someone who pays rent to possess a property for a period of time.

Terraced house – A style of property that is one in a row of similar properties joined together by their side walls.

The Property Ombudsman (TPO) – A UK government approved organisation which aims to provide better consumer protection for home buyers and sellers, landlords and tenants.

Title Deeds – Documents showing ownership, as well as rights, obligations or mortgages on the property.

Title Insurance – An insurance policy taken out by a purchaser of a property to indemnify loss or damage resulting from defects or problems relating to the ownership of the property or from the liens that exist against it.

Title search – A process that is performed to determine if there are any restrictions or allowances on the use of land and if any liens exist on the property.

Tracker Mortgage – A type of mortgage whereby the interest rate charged by your lender is linked to a rate such as Bank of England base rate. This means payments can go up or down.

Transfer Deeds – A document used to transfer a property from its legal owner to another party.

Under offer – A property that has an offer accepted by the vendor but contracts have yet to be exchanged.

Valuation – Appraisal of the value of a property.

Variable rate – an interest rate that may fluctuate over time in line with market rates.

Vendor – person selling a property.

Verbal offer – offer made on a property that is not legal binding.

Yield – income generated from a property.

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