Oliver Chandler Estate Agents in Salisbury

Jargon Buster

Like many industries, estate agency seems to have a language all of its own. It can sometimes seem very legalistic and just a bit old fashioned, like the language of a bygone age.

And whether you’re selling, buying, letting or renting property you’ve already got enough on your plate without having to decipher all this terminology.

As we believe in making the home moving process as smooth, simple and stress-free as possible, here’s a list of the terms you’re most likely to hear and what they mean.


How easy is it to get to the property for, say, the removal company? For example, how far is it from the road, is there space to park and is it easy to navigate underfoot?


The amount a borrower receives from their mortgage lender to help purchase a property.

Base rate

This is the interest rate set by the Bank of England for lending to other banks and can impact the interest rates that lenders, like building societies, charge when lending money to customers for mortgages.

Bridging loan

Generally a short-term and temporary loan to enable a buyer to purchase the home of their choice without having first sold their existing property.

Building survey

Sometimes referred to as a full structural survey, this is a detailed report into the physical state of the property.


When several property sales and purchases are inter-dependent upon each other it’s referred to as a chain, and they can get quite complicated.

Completion date

This is the time when the transaction is complete and ownership of the property passes from the seller to the buyer. At this point, the seller’s solicitor will ask the acting estate agent to release the keys to the buyer.

Conservation Area

Land and properties that have been protected usually because of architectural or historic interest.


These are provisions or promises written into a deed that can affect or limit the use of a property or the land it’s built on. See also Easements.

 A positive covenant usually needs acting upon (perhaps to maintain a boundary), while a restrictive covenant limits or prevents the owner’s use of the land in the way specified (perhaps not allowing them to keep livestock on the land).


The legal process for transferring ownership of a property seller to buyer.

Deeds(or Title Deeds)

Documents showing the ownership of a property, as well as the rights, obligations or mortgages upon it. From the year 2000, compulsory registration in England and Wales has been required for all properties mortgaged or transferred. 

Note: the details of all rights, obligations, and covenants referred to in the Title Deeds are entered on the Property Register.


These give a landowner permission to make use of another nearby piece of land that benefits his own land, for example, a shared driveway. See also Covenant.

EPC (Energy Performance Certificate)

This shows the energy efficiency of a property and helps to indicate how much utility bills are likely to cost. Shown in two graphs – one for energy efficiency, the other for environmental impact – each is graded from A (the best) to G (the worst).


Sometimes referred to as capital, this represents the amount of money that’s the difference between a mortgage on a property and its market value. 

The equity or capital amount is often referred to as the amount of money a buyer puts down to purchase a property, with the balance being made up of a mortgage or some other loan.

Exchange (or Exchange of Contracts)

This is the moment when the property’s seller and buyer are both committed to the transaction. Generally, either can walk away any time before this point is reached.


Under this kind of occupancy you own the building and the land it’s on. See also Leasehold.


When the seller of a property, having accepted an offer for it, then accepts a higher offer from another buyer.

Ground rent 

A charge paid by purchasers of leasehold property; usually, a token amount or 'peppercorn' rent charged annually.

Land Registry

The central body which holds the register of title to land in England and Wales and records all the dealings relating to it, such as sales and mortgages.


This type of occupancy is different from Freehold in that you own the property but not the land it’s built on. See also Freehold.


A building considered to be of architectural or historic significance is given special protection and is then subject to planning limitations.

Loan-to-value (or LTV)

A figure that represents the size of the mortgage as a percentage of the overall value of the property.

No forward chain

The vendor (or seller) of the property is not buying another, so a potentially speedier purchase could take place. This is often the case when a property becomes available through probate, for example.


A mortgage is a loan – usually provided for the purchase of a property - that is then secured against that property.

Fixed rate mortgage

A fixed rate mortgage means a set rate of interest is paid on a mortgage for a fixed period, so the borrower knows exactly what they'll be paying each month.

Tracker mortgage

With an interest rate linked to the Bank of England rate (or some other base rate), the interest rate charged can go up or down in line with the chosen base rate, no matter who the mortgage provider is.

Variable rate mortgage

The interest rates on these mortgages can change at any time, usually influenced by the Bank of England base rate. However, other factors can sometimes have an impact, which means the interest a borrower pays on a variable rate mortgage can change even without base rate moving or the base rate can reduce while a borrower’s mortgage repayments remain the same.

Planning permission(or Planning Consent)

The authorisation needed to be allowed to build on land, extend a building, or change the use of land or buildings. 


Simply another name for someone buying a property. See also Vendor.


These involve a search of files relating to properties or areas that are held by the Local Authority. Other searches include those relating to water and drainage, and the environment. They inform a purchaser of any potential issues that can affect a property before they decide to buy it.

Stamp Duty

This is a lump-sum tax that anyone buying a property or land over a certain price in England must pay. It can vary with the property’s value, government policy and the tax rate set.

Note: Stamp Duty is called Land & Building Transaction Tax in Scotland and Land Transaction Tax in Wales, which are both charged at their own rates.

Under offer

This means the seller has accepted an offer from the buyer but has not yet exchanged contracts with them.

Vacant possession

Essentially the property is empty which could speed up the viewing and purchase process.


The estimated amount a property is worth. Note: mortgage lenders usually send a qualified valuer to agree this amount before they will confirm the mortgage.


Simply another name for someone selling a property. See also Purchaser.

Vender suited

Used to describe a situation where the vendor (or seller) has found a property to purchase and would be keen to move quickly.

If you come across any other word or phrase that we haven’t included above or want further clarification on property terminology, contact us and we'll be happy to help.

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