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A-Z Glossary of house buying and selling terms

Moving and Improving’s A- Z Glossary of House Buying & Selling Terms (and more importantly what they mean)

Whether buying or selling a home you are likely to come across a term, phrase or word that you haven’t discovered before or have no idea what it means. Don’t worry, we have compiled a list of home buying and selling terms and phrases to help you understand what they mean and when they may be relevant to you

Annual Percentage Rate (APR) 

The annual rate charge for borrowing. This is the total cost of a mortgage loan including arrangement fees and interest charges. It is reflected as a percentage.

Bridging Loan

 A short-term loan designed to ‘bridge’ two situations. For example, a bridging loan could be used if you were purchasing a new build home but had not yet sold your existing property.

Building Insurance 

 An insurance which covers the cost of repairing damage to the structure of your property, garage, sheds and fences. This insurance should cover the cost of rebuilding your house.


Buying a property to let out to tenants. (This requires a buy-to-let mortgage.)


When selling a home is part of a sequence of home sales which are each dependant on the previous home sale in the ‘chain’ to complete the transaction. 

Completion Date 

The point at which the buyer owns their new home. All funds have been transferred, paperwork has been completed and the keys have been handed to the new owners. 


 Fees which are shown separate to the standard legal fees from solicitors or conveyancers involved in the sale or purchase of a property. Examples include stamp duty and land registry fees.

Early Repayment Charge 

 A fee from a lender for paying off a mortgage earlier than the previously agreed repayment period.

Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) 

Provides an energy performance rating for a home. It is a requirement for a home seller to provide the buyer with the property’s EPC. However, you can also download the property's most recent EPC from the government website.

Retrieve an EPC

Fixtures and Fittings 

Non-structural items included in a property sale e.g. carpets.


Owning a property and the land it is on outright. 

Full Structural Survey (Building Survey) 

A full structural survey (also known as a building survey) is an analysis of the main features of a property such as walls, foundations, roof and plumbing etc.


When a seller accepts an offer on a property but then accepts a higher offer from another buyer.


Lower the offer made to a seller just before the exchange of contracts.

Ground rent 

 An annual fee paid by a leaseholder to a freeholder

Home Buyers Report 

A report which looks at the structural condition of most of the readily parts of a property. This does not include in depth investigation or look at aspects such as drainage, water or heating system.


An independent financial advisor.

Interest Only Mortgage 

A mortgage where only the interest is paid monthly, and the capital amount borrowed is paid at the end of the loan term.

Joint Agency 

When two estate agents work together in marketing a property.

Joint Mortgage 

when there is more than one person on a mortgage. 

Land Certificate 

a land registry certificate proving ownership of a property.


Owning the property and its land for the duration of the lease agreement with the freeholder. A leaseholder may be subject to further restrictions such as not being allowed to have pets in the property or being unable to sublet.

Maintenance Charge 

A fee made towards the upkeep of a leasehold property.

Mortgage Deed 

A document in which a mortgagor transfers interest in a property to a mortgagee for the purpose of providing a mortgage loan.


 independent professional bodies who investigate complaints against estate agents, insurance companies and solicitors on a customer’s behalf.

Repayment Mortgage 

Monthly mortgage repayments consisting of part interest and part capital repayment. If all repayments are made on time the mortgage will gradually reduce until it has been repaid in full at the end of the mortgage term.


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


When a mortgage lender repossesses a property in order to sell it to repay the debt of a loan which is in default.

Sole Agency 

when a single estate agent is working on a seller’s behalf.

Stamp Duty 

A tax paid by a buyer to the government upon completion.


An inspection by a qualified surveyor. There are three main types of survey; Valuation report (which is for mortgage purposes), Homebuyers report (which also comments on the general condition), and Full Structural survey (which looks at structural details).


People living in a property owned by someone else.

Transfer Deeds 

A land registry document which transfers legal ownership from seller to buyer.

Under Offer

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

Variable Interest Rate 

Rate of interest payments fluctuate over time inline with general interest rates.


A term sometimes used to describe the seller.

 Now you are armed with all the technical jargon to make you home buying or selling experience easier don’t forget to explore the rest of our site so you can find estate agents, mortgage brokers, surveyors and more that could save you money without sacrificing the quality of service, at a time convenient to you

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