Understanding Estate Agency Lingo: A Glossary for Homebuyers and Sellers


Understanding Estate Agency Lingo: A Glossary for Homebuyers and Sellers

Buying or selling a home can be a daunting process, especially when you’re faced with an array of unfamiliar terms and jargon. Understanding the language used in estate agency can make the process much smoother and more transparent. Here’s a comprehensive glossary of key terms you’re likely to encounter when navigating the UK property market.

A - D

Appraisal (Valuation): An assessment of a property's market value, typically conducted by a surveyor, based on factors such as location, condition, and recent sale prices of similar properties.

Bridging Loan: A short-term loan used to bridge the gap between buying a new property and selling an existing one, allowing you to purchase the new home before the sale of your current one is completed.

Chain: A sequence of linked property transactions, where each sale is dependent on the preceding one. Chains can affect the speed and success of a sale.

Completion: The final stage of a property transaction, where the ownership of the property is legally transferred from the seller to the buyer, and the buyer receives the keys.

E - H

Equity: The difference between the market value of a property and the outstanding mortgage or any other debts secured against it. It represents the amount of the property owned outright by the homeowner.

Exchange of Contracts: A key stage in the buying process where the buyer and seller legally commit to the transaction. Once contracts are exchanged, the sale is legally binding, and a completion date is set.

Freehold: Ownership of a property and the land it stands on for an indefinite period. This contrasts with leasehold, where ownership is for a specified number of years.

Gazumping: When a seller accepts a higher offer from a new buyer after already agreeing to a sale with another buyer, often leading to the original buyer being left without the property.

I - M

Interest-Only Mortgage: A mortgage where the borrower only pays the interest on the loan each month, with the principal amount remaining unchanged until the end of the term.

Leasehold: Ownership of a property for a specified period, typically up to 999 years, but not the land it stands on. The land is owned by a freeholder, and the leaseholder may have to pay ground rent.

Listed Building: A building of historical or architectural importance that is protected by law. Any alterations or repairs to a listed building often require special permission.

Mortgage Agreement in Principle: A statement from a lender indicating the amount they are willing to lend based on an initial assessment of your financial situation. It helps demonstrate to sellers that you are a serious buyer.

N - R

Offer: A proposal made by a potential buyer to purchase a property at a specified price. In the UK, offers are usually made through estate agents and can be subject to negotiation.

Planning Permission: Approval required from the local council to build new structures or make significant changes to existing properties. It ensures that developments meet local regulations and guidelines.

Repossession: The process by which a lender takes possession of a property due to the borrower's failure to meet mortgage repayments. The property is then usually sold to recover the outstanding debt.

Stamp Duty: A tax paid by the buyer on the purchase of a property. The amount varies based on the property's value and the buyer's circumstances, such as being a first-time buyer or purchasing an additional property.

S - Z

Survey: An inspection of a property’s condition carried out by a qualified surveyor. Different types of surveys are available, including a basic valuation, Homebuyer Report, and full structural survey.

Title Deeds: Legal documents that prove ownership of a property and outline the boundaries and rights associated with it.

Under Offer: A status indicating that a seller has accepted an offer on the property, but the transaction has not yet been completed. The property may still be subject to further negotiations or conditions.

Vendor: The person or entity selling the property.


Understanding these terms can help you navigate the property market with confidence, whether you're buying or selling a home. Knowledge of estate agency lingo will enable you to make informed decisions and engage more effectively with estate agents, solicitors, and other professionals involved in the process. Happy house hunting or selling!

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