Jargon Buster

Appreciation

The increase in value of a property as a result of changes in the market conditions.

Arrangement fees

Fees charged to arrange a loan on certain products. Usually applied to loans where a special interest rate applies e.g. fixed or capped rates.

Asset

Any form of property owned by a person, including currency, stocks and enforceable claims against others.

Assignment

The transfer of ownership of an insurance policy or lease.

Auction

The sale of a property to the highest bidder.

Administration/Application fee

This is the charge levied by the lender to cover the costs of processing a mortgage application. If an application is not completed, the fee may not be refunded.

Annual Percentage Rate (APR)

The APR is a compound interest rate figure used to compare different mortgages. Defined by law, it includes repayments on the loan plus any mortgage fees such as booking, arrangement or basic market appraisal fees. The APR shows the true cost of borrowing over the entire term and should appear on all mortgage illustrations.

Applicant

The person or party applying for a property to buy.

Appraised value

The value of a property, as estimated by a surveyor.

Bridging loan

A short term loan commonly used to cover or ‘bridge’ the overlap between the purchase of a new property and sale of an old one.

Building survey (formerly full structural survey)

A full inspection of the property, conducted by a charter surveyor, who will write a detailed report setting out the soundness of a property and any property defects. Suitable for any house, particularly older properties and those that have been poorly maintained as well as properties than have been extensively altered or extended, or any property due to be altered or extended.

Building Insurance

An insurance policy that pays the cost of repair or rebuilding in the event your property is damaged or destroyed. Most mortgage lenders will require buildings insurance to be taken out as a condition of their loan.

Buy-to-let mortgage

A type of mortgage specifically designed for people buying a property with the intention of letting it out.

Capital

The amount of money either put into buying a property or the deposit placed on a property. Also known as equity.

Capped rate mortgage

A capped rate mortgage sets a maximum rate of interest that the lender can charge, but only for a specified period.

Chain

The situation that occurs when a buyer is reliant upon completion of the sale of their existing property in order to complete on the purchase of the new property.

Commission

The estate agents fee for selling the property.

Common areas

Area of land or buildings, such as gardens, hallways, recreational facilities and parking areas, where more than one resident shares access.

Comparative search

A search that looks at the actual sale values of similar properties in the same area as your property. This search is normally carried out by a surveyor and should give an indicative sale price for a property.

Completion date

The completion date is the day on which money is transferred from the buyers to the seller’s solicitor. It is the date that the buyer becomes the legal owner of the new property.

Conditions of sale

The details that determine the rights and duties of the seller and buyer. These may be national, statutory or the Law Society’s condition.

Contents Insurance

Insurance that covers the contents of a home, including electrical goods, carpets, furniture and curtains.

Contract

A legal agreement between the seller and buyer of a property, which binds both parties to compete the transaction.

Converted flat

A flat or apartment that has been created by the subdivision of a larger property.

Conveyancer

A qualified individual such as a solicitor or licensed conveyancer who deals with the legal aspects of buying or selling a property.

Conveyancing

The legal process surrounding the transfer of ownership of a property from seller to buyer.

Conveyancing fee

The charge made by a solicitor or conveyancer for undertaking the legal process necessary for the transfer of ownership of a property.

Council of Mortgage Lenders (CML)

The council of Mortgage Lenders devised the mortgage code to ensure lenders treat customers fairly.

Covenants

Rules and regulation governing the property, contained in its Title deeds or Lease.

Credit check

The procedure by which a check is made on the credit history of an applicant, usually conducted by one of the large dedicated credit rating agencies. The check will reveal history of credit card repayments, outstanding debts, arrears and county Court judgements.

Credit History

A history of individuals open and fully repaid debts. Checking a credit history helps a lender to assess the likelihood that a prospective borrower will maintain their mortgage repayments.

Deeds

Legal documents proving ownership, generally held by the mortgage lender.

Deeds release or discharge fee

The fee charged by lenders at the end of a mortgage term to cover the administrative costs of transferring the property ownership documents to the borrower.

Deflation

A situation in which prices are falling (the opposite situation to inflation).

Deposit

A sum of money paid by the buyer on exchange of contracts.

Detached

Term used to describe a property that stands alone or separated from all others

Development

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

Discharge

Paying off a mortgage.

Discount mortgage

Mortgages charged at a rate discounted from the published bank standard variable rate for a set period of time. The rates are variable and are subject to go up or down in line with any changes to the Bank of England base rate.  

Down market appraisal

When the lender restricts the amount you can borrow after the surveyors market appraisal report indicates the property is not worth the sum bought.

Draft contract

Preliminary version of the contract.

Early Repayment Charge (ERC)

A charge levied by the lender as a penalty if a mortgage is paid off within a specified period.

Endowment mortgage

Interest-only repayments combined with monthly premiums into an endowment policy designed to pay off the loan at the end of the term.

Energy Performance Certificate (EPC)

An EPC measures the energy efficiency of a property using a scale A-G. It is a legal requirement to have a valid EPC commissioned before a property can be marketed.

Equity

The amount of money either put into buying a property or the deposit placed on a property which exceeds the amount borrowed against the property. Also known as capital.

Excess

The initial sum paid on an insurance claim.

Exchange of contracts

The point at which signed contracts are physically exchanged, legally binding the seller and buyer to the sale and purchase of a property at the agreed price.

Financial Services Authority (FSA)

An independent body that regulates the financial service industry in the UK.

Fixtures and fittings

All non-structural items included in the purchase of a property.

Flexible mortgage

An arrangement whereby you can increase or decrease your mortgage.

Flying freehold

A flying freehold exists when one part of a property extends over, or under, a neighbouring property.

Gazumping

When a seller accepts a higher offer from a third party on a property that they have already agreed to sell to someone else prior to exchange contracts.

Gazundering

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

Ground rent

The annual charge levied by the freeholder to the leaseholder.

Guarantor

The lender may sometimes require a borrower to appoint a guarantor. This is someone who promises to pay the borrowers debt if the borrowers default.

Higher lending charge

An Up-front one off fee paid to the lender to protect them against the borrower defaulting on the loan. Usually charged on mortgages over 75% of the house value.

Homebuyers survey and market appraisal

This is a survey report, which is not as detailed as a structural survey, carried out by a chartered surveyor to assess the state of a property and its value.

Household Insurance

An insurance policy that protects against loss or damage to the property caused by fire, some natural causes and acts of vandalism. Also see Buildings insurance and Contents insurance.

Houses in Multiple Occupancy (HMO)

A building of three floors or more which is occupied by three or more people and where these people live as more than one household and share facilities such as bathrooms, toilets or cooking facilities.

IFA

Independent Financial Advisor.

Individual Savings Account mortgage (ISA)

An interest only mortgage linked to an Individual Savings Account fund, which is designed to pay off the loan at the end of the period.

Inflation

The general rise in prices over time.

Interest charge

The charges that banks make on a loan, calculated as a percentage of the amount borrowed.

Joint income

The total gross income of the two borrowers in a joint mortgage.

Joint tenants

A form of ownership for two parties whereby if one of them dies, their share of the property will automatically transfer to the remaining party, giving them full ownership (regardless of the terms of the deceased owners will).

Land registration

The process of registering the legal title of an area with the Land Registry, typically handled by a Solicitor.

Land registry fee

The fee payable for the above.

Lease

A legal document by which the Freehold (or leasehold) owner of a property lets the premises or a part of it to another party for a specified length of time, after the expiry of which; ownership may revert to the freeholder or superior Leaseholder.

Leasehold

A type of ownership in which a person owns a property, but not the land on which it is built. The owner of Freehold will grant a lease on the property for a specified length of time.

Legal charge

A mortgage on the property.

Lender

The party, typically a bank, building society or mortgage company, offering the loan.

Lenders arrangement fees

Charge passed on to the buyer by the lender for arranging a loan.

Listed building

A building officially listed as being of special architectural or historic interest, which cannot be demolished or altered without prior local government approval.

Loan to value (LTV)

The proportion of the value of the property on which the lender is prepared to loan.

Local authority search

Procedure whereby a buyer’s solicitor checks with the local council regarding any outstanding enforcement or future development issues that might affect the property or immediate area.

Maintenance charge (or service charge)

The cost of repairing and maintaining external or internal communal parts of a building charge to the tenant or leaseholder.

Maisonette

A self contained apartment (usually on two floors) in a larger house with its own entrance from the outside.

Mortgage

An amount of money advanced by a lender such as a bank or building society on the security of a property and repayable over a long period of time.

Mortgage payment protection (MPP)

This is an insurance designed to pay your monthly mortgage for a limited period, usually a year if you are unable to work through illness, disability or redundancy.

Mortgage Broker

Someone who advises buyers on the types of loans available and helps to process any subsequent application.

Mortgage deed

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

Mortgage rate

The standard variable interest rate quoted by all mortgage lenders which normally varies in line with the Bank of England base rate. All discounted rates are based on this mortgage rate.

Mortgage term

The period of time over which a mortgage loan must be repaid.

Mortgage type

This may be fixed, variable, capped, discount, tracker or another type of mortgage.

Mortgagee

The lender of a mortgage (i.e. bank or building society).

NHBC scheme (National House-Building Council)

A type of building guarantee available on some newly built homes under which defects occurring within a specified time after construction are remedied.

Negative equity

A situation in which the value of a property has fallen to below the level of the loan secured on it.

Offer

A sum of money that the buyer offers to pay for the property.

Offer of a loan

A formal document approving the mortgage you have requested and detailing the Terms and Conditions.

Office copy entry

An official document from the Land Registry confirming ownership of and borrowing against a property.

Open market value

The price a property should achieve where there is a willing buyer and willing seller.

Payment break/holiday

An option on flexible mortgages that allows you to stop making mortgage payments.

Penalties

A specified charge that is levied by the lender under certain circumstances, usually for full or part repayment within a specific period linked to a discount, tracker, fixed or other product type.

Peppercorn ground rent

A nominal periodic rent usually paid annually.

Pied a terre

A property kept for temporary, secondary or occasional occupation.

Preliminary enquiries

The initial enquires about a property put forward to a seller, which the seller must answer before the exchange of contracts.

Premium

The monthly amounts payable for an insurance policy.

Principal

The amount of debt outstanding (excluding interest).

Public liability insurance

Insurance that covers injury or death to anyone on or around a property.

Purchaser

A person who is buying a property.

Re-mortgage

Refinancing a property by either switching a mortgage from one lender to another or by taking out a second mortgage to take advantage of any equity gained by a rise in value.

Repayment mortgage

A mortgage in which monthly charges are used to repay the interest and reduce outstanding capital.

Repossession

When the mortgage lender takes possession of a property due to non-payment of the mortgage.

Retention

The ability of a lender to hold back (retain) part of a mortgage until certain conditions are met.

Search

A request or enquiry for information concerning the property held by a local authority or by the Land Registry.

Semi-detached

A property which is joined to one other house.

Service charge

Service charges are paid by the owner and cover the cost of providing various services (i.e. maintenance and repair of the building and common parts, provision of heating, lighting and security).

Share of freehold

Where the freehold on which the property stands is owned by a limited company and shareholders of that limited company are the owners of the property.

Sole Agent

When a seller chooses only one estate agent to sell their property.

Sole occupancy

A property that is occupied (lived in) only by the mortgage applicant (s) and their direct family.

Solicitor

A legal expert handling all documentation for the sale of a property.

Stamp duty

A government tax paid by the buyer of a property, which ranges between 0% and 5 % depending on the value of the property.

Standard variable rate

Mortgage lenders standard rate of interest, which may be increased or decreased periodically by the lender depending on prevailing economic conditions.

Structural survey

This is based on detailed inspection of the property and reports on the general structural condition.

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

Legal terminology that indicates an agreement is not yet legally binding and depends upon terms yet to be agreed within the contract.

Surveyor

A professional person qualified to estimate the value and condition of land and property.

Tenants in common

A form of ownership by two or more people in which if one of them dies their share of the property forms part of their estate and does not automatically pass to the other (s).

Tenure

Conditions on which a property is held (i.e. length of lease).

Terraced house

A property that forms part of a connected row of houses.

The Property Ombudsman (TPO)

The Property Ombudsman (TPO) is a free, fair and independent arbitration service which provides sellers, buyers, landlords and tenants with an assurance that they will receive the highest level of customer service.

Title Deeds

Documents showing the legal ownership of a property

Title insurance

An insurance policy which a buyer can take out to allow a sale to complete where there is a potential problem with the documentation in proving legal ownership of some part of the land they are buying.

Title search

An investigation carried out by a conveyancer or solicitor into the history of ownership of a property. The search will check for liens, unpaid claims, restrictions or any other problems that may affect ownership.

Tracker mortgage

A type of mortgage whereby any changes in the rate of interest charged follow exactly (‘track’) another, specified, interest rate or index. Typically a tracker mortgage will track the Bank of England base rate.

Transfer Deeds

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

Under offer

The status of a property for sale when a seller has accepted an offer from a buyer, prior to exchange of contracts.

Market appraisal

A basic survey of a property to estimate its value for mortgage purposes. Mortgage lenders will insist on this before lending.

Value

The price of a property under normal conditions, i.e. when the buyer is not forced to buy and seller not forced to sell.

Variable base rate

The basic rate of interest charged on a mortgage. This may change in reaction to market conditions so monthly payments can go up or down.

Vendor

The person selling a property

Void

An empty area or space.

Yield

Income from a property calculated as a percentage of its value.