Property Jargon

Here is a list of terms relevant to buying or renting a house or flat in the United Kingdom...

When reading the property-related classified advertisements in newspapers and magazines, it can help to know some of the key jargon terms:

  • Asking price: The listed price of the property, which may be negotiable
  • Auction: The process by which real estate is sold to the highest bidder. Sales are binding.
  • Bdrm: Shortened version of Bedroom(s)
  • Bridging finance: Short-term loan used to cover the financial gap between buying and selling
  • Building inspection: An inspection by a licensed builder that assesses the structural and mechanical condition of a property, undertaken at the buyer's expense
  • Buyer's market: When the demand for property is less than the supply of property it is more advantageous for the buyer
  • Buy to Let: The purchase of a property for investment only purposes with the intention of letting the property out
  • Capital Gains Tax: A tax levied on certain properties which are sold. Applies only to properties that were bought as an investment rather than a home
  • Certificate of title (CT): A legal description of a property including the name of the registered owner and any encumbrances listed against the property. This is required for the contract of sale prepared by the vendor's solicitor
  • Charge: Sometimes used to describe the security against which a mortgage is granted
  • Commission: A proportion of the sale price (generally a percentage) paid to real estate agent for acting for a party
  • Contract of sale: An agreement in writing that outlines the terms and conditions of the sale/purchase
  • Conveyancing: Traditional term for the legal processes involved in the purchase and sale of a property
  • Deeds (Title Deeds): Legal documents proving ownership or interest in a property
  • Deposit: A percentage of the purchase price paid at the time of acceptance of the offer (usually 10 percent of the purchase price)
  • Detached: A free-standing house (no walls shared with the neighbour)
  • Easement: A right that someone has to use the land that belongs to another. An example is a neighbour having the right to use the driveway to get to their property
  • Encumbrance: Easement or Mortgage or other legal interest registered against the title of the property
  • Estate Agent: Realtor or Real Estate Agent dealing with property sales and rentals
  • Exchange of contracts: The point at which signed contracts are physically exchanged, legally committing the buyer and the seller to the purchase and sale of a property at an agreed price.
  • Fittings: Objects such as furniture and appliances that can be removed from a property without causing damage
  • Flat: Apartment
  • Fixtures: Items such which are fixed to the property and cannot be removed without causing damage
  • Gazumping: When a seller verbally accepts a buyer's offer but later sells the property to another buyer offering a higher price
  • Green Belt: An area around the outside of London (or other city) protected from development
  • Ground floor: The floor of a property which is at ground level. In other countries the ground level is known as the first floor, but in the UK the first floor is the next level above ground level
  • Housing Association: Affordable housing usually offered at a lower rental price than private housing and predominantly flats and studios.
  • Jack and Jill Bathroom: Bathroom with two entrances / exits. This type of bathroom often also has 2 wash basins
  • Joint tenants: A form of co-ownership that gives each tenant equal share in the property
  • Lettings agent: Realtor or real estate agents dealing with rental properties only
  • Link detached: A property joined to another property only by a garage or other small non-residential connection
  • Listing: A written contract between an owner and a real estate agent, authorising the agent to perform services for the sale of the property
  • Local authority search: Procedure where by a buyer's solicitor makes an enquiry to the local council regarding any outstanding enforcement or future development issues which might affect the property or immediate area
  • Loft: The storage area in the roof space, also known as the attic
  • Market value: The price at which a seller is happy to sell and a buyer is willing to buy
  • Off the plan: A term given to when a buyer purchases a property before it is built, having only seen the plans. This is commonly used for apartments or units under construction
  • OIEO: Offers in Excess Of. The lowest price a vendor or landlord will accept
  • OIRO: Offers In the Region Of. A price that a vendor or landlord would be willing to accept or negotiate around
  • Open listing: A type of listing agreement in which more than one real estate agent may be employed to sell the property
  • Owners corporation: The administrative body consisting of the owners of a group of units or apartments of a strata building
  • Passed in: When the highest bid at an auction doesn't meet the reserve price set on the property. In effect, the property doesn't sell at the auction.
  • Private Rental: Any property not owned/managed by the local council or other government authority
  • Private treaty: A sale of a property at an advertised price that can be negotiated
  • Reserve price: The minimum price which a seller will accept at auction
  • Sealed bids: For properties that are very popular. Potential buyers give the real estate agents an envelope containing the price they are willing to pay for the property. Highest bidder wins.
  • Semi-detached: A property which is joined to one other house via a shared wall
  • Sole Agency: Indicates that only this real estate agent is dealing with this property. A different percentage commission will be paid when selling via multiple agencies
  • Settlement: The sale of a property is finalised by the parties legal representatives and the new owner takes possession of the property
  • Stamp duty: A state tax on conveyance or transfer of property calculated on the total value of the property
  • Strata title: The most common title associated with townhouses and apartments. Individuals each own a portion of the title, known as a "lot" and share common property.
  • Studio: A flat consisting of one main room or open-plan living area incorporating cooking and sleeping facilities and a separate bathroom/shower room
  • Survey: An examination of a property by a professional surveyor before purchase which should reveal any problems with the property being bought
  • Terraced house – a row of houses entirely connected by shared walls
  • Under Offer: A property which has had an offer submitted by a potential buyer but the sale is not yet complete
  • Valuation: A written analysis of the estimated value of the property prepared by a qualified valuer
  • Vendor: The seller
  • Zoning: Local authority guidelines for the permitted use of the land