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Home buying and selling glossary

Feeling confused by real estate jargon? You’re not alone. Buying or selling a home involves a lot of technical and legal terms that are tough to grasp.

Help is here. We’ve created an easy-to-use glossary that makes it simple to understand it all.

Whether you’re a first-time buyer or selling your home, use our glossary to help you through the process each step of the way.



Adopted highway: A road or path which is maintained by the local authority rather than privately.


Budget: The purchase price you can afford for a property based on your savings, income, and how much you can borrow.

Buyer: The person(s) purchasing a property.


Chain: When a series of property sales are interconnected and dependent on one another for progression.

Completion date: When the legal transfer of property ownership takes place, and the keys are handed over between seller and buyer.

Condition of sale: Terms in a property contract that must be met before a purchase can be legally complete.

Conveyancer: A qualified professional who handles the legal administrative process of transferring ownership of a property between a buyer and seller.

Conveyancing: The legal work involved in buying and selling properties.

Cost protection: No excess insurance cover to protect your upfront conveyancing, transaction, and lender fees in case anything goes wrong.

Covenant: A clause in a property deed that places restrictions or obligations that the buyer must comply with, usually passed on to all subsequent owners.


Deeds: Legal documents assigning/proving ownership of a property and/or land.

Deposit: Confusingly, this can mean two things 1. A sum of money that represents the personal capital that the buyer(s) is putting towards purchasing a property. 2. The amount you pay on exchange of contracts (usually 10%).

Draft contract: An unconfirmed version of the contract.


Energy performance certificate (EPC): This provides an energy performance rating for a specific property. Ratings vary from A (most efficient) to G (least efficient).

Environmental searches: Environmental searches check for potential contamination, flood risks, and other environmental factors that have or may impact a property.

Equity: This is the difference between the value of the property and the amount of mortgage owed.

Estate agents: Work on behalf of buyers or sellers to appraise, market, and sell properties for commission fees.

Exchange deposit: The exchange deposit is the a % of the property price you pay (typically 10%) when contracts are signed, and the sale becomes legally binding.

Exchange of contracts: A key step in the conveyancing process is where signed contracts are swapped between buyers and sellers, agreeing to make the purchase and sale legally binding.


First-time buyer: A person(s) who is purchasing a home for the first time and has never owned a property before.

Fixed fee quote: A fee for conveyancing services that means the total fee amount is set and guaranteed upfront rather than charged on an hourly basis.

Fixed-rate mortgage: A mortgage loan on a home with an interest rate that remains constant for a specific period, typically between 2-7 years, providing certainty around monthly repayments.

Freehold: Ownership that means you own the home and the land it is built on for an unlimited time.

Freeholder: The person(s) who own the freehold.


Gazumping: When a seller accepts a higher offer from someone else and withdraws from the initially agreed-upon sale of their property.

Gazundering: When a buyer lowers their offer price for a property just before contracts are exchanged after initially agreeing to a higher amount.

Gifted deposit: Money that is gifted to a home buyer, usually from friends or family, to put towards their deposit to purchase a property.

Ground rent: An annual fee that leaseholders pay to the freeholder or landlord who owns the land the leasehold property is on.


Held to order: If your deposit is held to order, we will keep it and transfer that alongside the remaining funds on completion.


Indemnity insurance: Covers unknown risk materialising related to legal ownership defects or limitations with a property that arise after purchase.

Independent financial advisor (IFA): An independent professional who provides financial advice from across the market to help a buyer select suitable options based on circumstances.

Instruction: The legal authority provided by a client to a solicitor/licenced conveyancer to act on their behalf in a property transaction.

Interest rate: The percentage charged for the money you are borrowing.

Interest-only mortgage: A home loan in which the borrower pays only the interest on the balance for a set period, typically 5-10 years.


Joint mortgage: A home loan with two or more borrowers who are jointly responsible for repaying the debt.

Joint Tenants: Where two or more people have equal rights to the whole property and the property automatically goes to the other owners if you die.


Land registry: The government database that records information on property ownership and transactions in England and Wales.

Land transaction tax (LLT): This is tax paid when purchasing a property in Wales above a certain price threshold, calculated as a percentage of the purchase price.

Landlord: An individual that owns a freehold property that they lease or rent out to a tenant to occupy.

Leasehold: Where a person(s) purchases a property for a certain period, but not the land it is built on. Leaseholders do not own their property outright.

Local authority search: A search into public records held by the local council that tells you about planning permissions, building regulations, conservation areas, listed buildings, and highways.


Maintenance or service charge: A periodic payment made by leasehold owners to contribute towards the upkeep, maintenance, and repair of common areas or shared facilities.

Mining search: A search to check whether the property could be impacted by past or present mining.

Mortgage broker: A professional who is hired to facilitate loans by assessing a borrower’s financial situation and matching them with appropriate lenders and loan options.

Mortgage deed: A legally binding document that confirms you are entering into a contract with your mortgage provider, secured against your property.

Mortgage deposit: Your mortgage deposit refers to the total amount of cash you’re contributing towards a home purchase.

Mortgage offer: Official confirmation from a lender that they will lend you the money to purchase a property.

Mortgage: A loan that is used to finance the purchase of a property.


New build: Where a property being bought or sold is a brand new property.


Offer accepted: When a seller has agreed to the terms presented by the buyer in their offer to purchase a property.

Offer: A bid is made from a buyer to a seller to purchase their property.


Planning permission:  Approval by the planning authority for the construction or extension/alteration of a property or a change of its use.

Post-completion: The stage after a property sale is legally finalised and you have had the keys. During this period a buyer is registering their purchase at the Land Registry and the seller’s conveyancer might need to assist them with that.

Pre-completion: This is the stage after contracts are signed and exchanged but before the official completion of the sale.

Pre-exchange: The stage before contracts have been signed and exchanged, where the buyer conducts surveys, applies for mortgages, and negotiates the offer.

Property lawyer: A legal professional who specialises in real estate law and provides services related to property transactions.


Registered title: Where the Land Registry holds a computerised copy of your deeds.

Remortgaging: The process of switching a mortgage from one lender to another, is typically done to obtain better loan terms or rates.

Reservation fee: An initial non-refundable payment to a builder or developer for a new property.


Sale agreed: This means the seller has accepted an offer from a buyer to purchase the property under specific terms and conditions. 

Searches: Inquiries made into various public and private records regarding a property to uncover potential risks or issues.

Seller: The current owner of a property who wishes to transfer ownership and sell their property to a buyer.

Shared ownership: Allows buyers to purchase a share of a property, typically 25% to 75% and pay rent on the remaining share not owned.

Snagging: The process of checking a new build for any defects, incomplete work, or faults just before completion of purchase.

Sold subject to contract (SSTC): This indicates that a property sale has been agreed upon but is pending signed contracts so not yet legally binding.

Stamp duty land tax (SDLT): This is tax paid when purchasing a property in England above a certain price threshold, calculated as a percentage of the purchase price.

Survey: An inspection by a qualified surveyor to evaluate the condition of a home for potential issues, defects, risks, and repairs needed.


Tenants in common:  Two or more owners of the property own specific shares in a property and the property does not automatically pass to the others if you die.

Title deeds: The legal document which shows the ownership of land and property. 

TP1: A Land Registry form that is used to transfer part of a property rather than the whole thing.

TR1: A land registry form that is used when the whole of a title must be transferred or when a property is being registered for the first time.

Transfer deeds: The legal handing over of a property's title deed documents from the seller to the buyer upon completion of a sale.

Transfer of equity: The change of names on a property's mortgage title without an actual property sale taking place, such as removing or adding a spouse's name.


Unregistered title: Where your title is not computerised at the Land Registry, and you must prove ownership based on original paper deeds.


Variable rate mortgage:  A loan with an interest rate that fluctuates periodically in line with market rates, meaning payments could go up or down over the loan term.

Water and drainage search: Conducted to let you know whether the property is connected to main water and sewerage, and who owns them. If it isn’t, then there could be a private water supply or sewerage and your conveyancer will find out who owns it and what rights the property has.


Need help with conveyancing?

Whether you've just started looking at buying a home, you've already placed an offer, or you've had an offer accepted, you'll need to instruct a conveyancer.

At Eden, our conveyancers are all in-house and fully qualified, you'll have a dedicated person to help you from start to finish.

you'll also have access to MyEden, our 24/7 online platform, where you can check on progress whenever, wherever.

Get a quote today.

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