Buying and Selling Glossary



Mortgage Loan.


Annual Percentage Rate of Change, the total cost of a loan, including all costs, interest charges and arrangement fees, shown as a percentage rate and easily comparable with mortgage interest rates.

The sale of a property to the highest bidder.


Balance Outstanding
The amount of loan owed at a particular time
Bridging Loan

A temporary loan advanced to help buy a new property before the existing one has been sold.

Buildings Insurance
Insurance against the cost of repair or rebuilding a property from scratch following structural damage, for example by flood, fire or storm.


A number of linked property sales where exchange of contracts must take place simultaneously.
Closing Date

The date set for submission of offers when more than one party show interest in the property.

Completion Date

Completion of the legal transaction with all monies and documents having been distributed. This is also when the seller's solicitor will instruct the estate agent to release the keys.


See under 'Subject to contracts exchanged'

Contents Insurance
Insurance against accidental damage or theft of all moveable contents, including furniture, appliances and soft furnishings.
A formal agreement between the buyer and the seller, usually prepared by a solicitor or licensed conveyancer, detailing the terms and conditions of the sale.
Person other than a solicitor who may conduct the conveyancing.
The legal work involved in buying and selling properties.
Council Tax
Levied by local councils to cover the cost of local amenities and services.
A condition, contained within the Title Deeds or lease, that the buyer must comply with, which is usually applied to all future owners of the property. A restrictive covenant is one that prohibits the owner from doing something.


Legal documents assigning ownership of a property and/or land.
Sum of money that represents the personal capital that the buyer is putting toward the purchase of the property.
Fees, such as Stamp Duty, Land Registry and search fees on top of conveyancing which you normally pay via your solicitor.
Draft Contract
Unconfirmed version of the contract.


Early Repayment Charge
A charge made by the lender if the borrower terminates a mortgage in advance of the terms of the particular mortgage. Normally occurs when the borrower has benefited from reduced payments or cash back in the early period of a mortgage.
The difference between the value of a property and the amount of mortgage owed.
Exchange of Contracts
The point at which the sale becomes legally binding from which neither party can withdraw without financial penalties - In Scotland see 'Missives Concluded'.



Financial Intermediaries Managers & Brokers Regulatory Authority.

Fixed Price

Offers are invited at the price shown

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

Ownership of the property and land upon which the property is situated.

Full Structural Survey

A full structural survey looks at all the main features of the property, including walls, roof, foundations, plumbing, joinery, electrical wiring, drains, and garden.



The practice by a seller accepting a higher price than that previously agreed with someone else.


The practice by a buyer lowering his offer just before exchange of contracts.

Ground rent

The annual fee which a leaseholder pays to a freeholder.


Home Buyers Report

The homebuyer's report comments on the structural condition of most parts of the property that are readily accessible, but does not involve in-depth investigation or the testing of water, drainage or heating systems.

Housing Association

A non-profit making body which lets you buy a percentage of the property and pay rent on the rest.



Independent Financial Advisor


Investments Managers Regulatory Organisation. Regulates investment managers.


When a seller instructs an estate agent to market a property.


Joint Agency

Where two estate agents work together to market a property.

Joint Mortgage

A mortgage where there is more than one individual named responsible for the mortgage.


Land Certificate

A Land Registry certificate proving ownership of property.

Land Registry

The Government organisation that holds records of all registered properties in England and Wales.


Life Assurance Unit Trust Regulatory Organisation.


To be given ownership of a property but not the land it is built on. This normally requires payment of ground rent to the landlord. A leasehold is normally offered for either 999 years, 99 years or shorter terms.

Local Authority Search

An application made to the appropriate Local Authority requesting details of any planning or other matters which might affect the property being sold.


Maintenance Charge

A charge made towards the upkeep of a leasehold property.

Missives Concluded

Scotland only. The solicitors must agree on the written negotiations of the sale - the 'missives'. This can only be done once a mortgage offer is received. When the missives are agreed, this is known as 'conclusion of missives'. Both parties are now legally bound to the sale/purchase.

Mortgage Deed

A legal document relating to the mortgage lenders interest in the property.

Mortgage Offer

A formal written offer made by a bank or building society to lend an approved amount to purchase a property.


The selection of two or more estate agents to act on the seller's behalf, usually incurring a higher fee than if the sale is completed by a sole agency.


Negative Equity

When the value of a property is less than the outstanding sum owed on a mortgage.



A bid made by a prospective buyer, this is not legally binding.

Offers Over

Offers are invited above the price shown.


Independent professional bodies who investigate complaints on behalf of customers against estate agents, solicitors and insurance companies.



The term used when a property is being sold, where a tenant has legal right of occupation.

Private Treaty

The way in which most house sales are completed in England and Wales.


Your home or the property you wish to sell or buy.


Repayment Mortgage

Your monthly repayment includes part interest and part capital repayment. So long as you meet all of the payments required by the lender on time, your mortgage will gradually reduce until it is repaid in full at the end of the mortgage term.


When loans are in default the mortgage lender can repossess the property and sell it so they can repay the debt.


Holding back part of a mortgage loan until repairs to the property are satisfactorily completed.


Sale Agreed

A verbal agreement from the seller.


Checks of local council records for planning applications and restrictions, etc.

Sole Agency

The seller chooses a single estate agent to act on their behalf, incurring a lower fee than multi-agency.


Legal expert handling all documentation for the sale and purchase of a property.

Stamp Duty

A tax paid to the Government by the buyer upon completion.

Subject to Conclusion of Missives

Scotland only. Words used to indicate that an agreement is not yet legally binding.

Subject to Contract

Words used to indicate that an agreement is not yet legally Binding.


An inspection made by a qualified surveyor. There are three main types of survey. Valuation report (for mortgage purposes), Homebuyers report (also comments on general condition) and Full Structural survey (examines structural detail).



People living in a property owned by someone else.


The process whereby the seller asks for written offers on a property usually with a set closing date. When a property is sold by tender, the buyer pays the fees.


The ultimate record of ownership of a property, the evidence of which is found in the title deeds.

Transfer Deeds

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


Under Offer

When the seller has accepted an offer on the property but contracts have not yet been exchanged.


Variable Interest Rate

Rate of interest payment that fluctuates over time inline with general interest rates.


The legal name sometimes used to describe the seller of the property.

Verbal Offer

Offer from prospective purchaser, not legally binding on either party.



Mode of commencing legal proceedings.





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Take control of your purchase with a My Move account.

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- Save your favourites
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