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Jargon Buster

The buying and selling process is full of unfamiliar and sometimes complicated words and phrases, but our property jargon buster is here to help you break down the terminology and simplify the process.

Click a letter to see more.



A document you sign and hand back to the mortgage lender to confirm you want to accept its offer.

Agreement in Principle (AIP)

A document from a mortgage lender that confirms it will lend you a certain amount – typically based on your earnings and usually a credit search and credit score. This is also known as a Decision In Principle (DIP).

Annual Percentage Rate (APR)

Often misunderstood, an APR is the total percentage cost of the loan every year. So, that includes interest as well as any additional fees. APRs are a legal requirement when advertising financial deals like credit cards and mortgages.


An old-fashioned word meaning an estimate of a property’s current value according to an estate agent or surveyor.

Arrangement fee

A fee charged by some lenders to cover the administration of arranging a mortgage. They often apply to deals with special rates, such as fixed rates or trackers.


The amount of money that is overdue on your mortgage. If left unpaid it may result in the lender repossessing the property.

Asking price

The price the seller wants to achieve for their home.


The transfer of a right, title or claim to a property from one party to another.

Authority to Proceed (ATP)

A document provided as part of Government supported schemes, such as First Homes to allow your reservation to go ahead.

Authority to Exchange (ATE)

A document provided as part of Government supported schemes, such as First Homes to allow your conveyancer to exchange contracts.


Bank rate

Interest rate set by the Bank of England every month (also known as base rate or interest rate). If you have a mortgage with a variable rate, it may be affected if the bank rate changes.

Bridging loan

A short-term loan that can be used to bridge a gap in funding, often used so you can buy a new property before selling your existing home.

Build Complete

A term used to describe the final stage of construction of a new home.

Buildings insurance

Buildings insurance covers the cost of repairing or rebuilding your home if it is damaged or destroyed. If you require a mortgage to buy a property, building insurance is usually a compulsory condition of the loan.

Building survey

Previously known as a structural survey, a Building Survey is an in-depth report on the construction of a property. It is the most thorough survey you can have done and is suitable for listed buildings, older or unusual homes or ones you intend to completely renovate.


The person, people or business buying a property, they may also be referred to as the purchaser.

Buy-to-let mortgage

If you need some financial assistance to invest in property, you can seek out a buy-to-let mortgage as they are specifically designed for properties that will be rented out. Standard mortgages often include conditions that mean that the owner cannot use the property for rental income.


Capped rate mortgage

A variable rate mortgage with a difference. The interest rate can fluctuate but has a cap beyond which it cannot rise. A capped rate is usually only available for a set period – normally the first few years of the loan.  


Also known as equity, capital is the amount of money put into either buying a property or paid as a deposit.


A chain occurs when a buyer needs to sell their current home to be able to buy their next property and the people they are selling to are in the same position. This means there are often multiple transactions that are inter-dependent and need to happen at the same time for each sale and purchase to go ahead. If there is a problem in a chain, it can have a knock-on effect on your purchase.


The ‘hold’ a lender has over the equity in your home. If you fail to keep up with the repayments to your lender, you could be forced to sell your property to repay the debt.

Chartered surveyor

A surveyor accredited by the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS). They are employed to carry out a survey on a property and will assess whether the property has any defects and produce a report so that you can establish if it is a good investment.


The fee payable to an estate agent – typically a percentage of the sale price of the property, although some charge an agreed fixed price upfront. See also “Estate Agent.”

Conditions of sale

Terms defined in the contract which set down the rights and duties of both buyer and seller.

Condition report

This is the most basic level of survey you can get and provides a surface level report on the condition of your potential new home. It is best suited for new-build homes and properties in good condition.

Contents insurance

An insurance policy designed to cover any loss or damage to your possessions, ranging from electrical goods to soft furnishings.


This is the legally binding document both the buyer and seller sign to complete the sale or purchase of a property. It can also be referred to as an agreement.


Changing a property or room from one use to another. Examples include converting a church into a home, converting an office space into flats, or converting a loft into a bedroom.


The person who handles the legal work involved in buying or selling a property. This work can only be undertaken by an individual who works for a firm of solicitors or licenced conveyancers.


The name for all the legal work involved in transferring the ownership of a property from one party to another.


Rules and regulations which you’ll find incorporated in the title deed (or lease) legally requiring the owner to do (or NOT to do) something in relation to the property.

Credit report

Also known as credit history, this is a record of someone’s ongoing and repaid debts. Credit reports are held (but not determined) by a credit reference agency. Check yours before applying for a mortgage as they are used by lenders to assess whether you are a good candidate for a loan.


Declaration of trust

A declaration of trust is drawn up by your conveyancer and lays out who owns what shares in the property. They are a great idea for friends who buy together or cohabiting couples as it can also make clear who is responsible for paying the mortgage and other bills.


The legal documents that prove ownership of a property or land. Deeds usually include mortgages and leases, conveyances, contracts for sale and wills. They are also known as Title Deeds.


The money you need to pay when you exchange contracts. Typically, an initial 10% of the purchase price is payable on exchange of contracts, although this is confirmed when you reserve.

Deposit unlock

The Deposit Unlock scheme, created in collaboration with Housing Developers and mortgage lenders, enables first time buyers and existing homeowners to borrow a maximum mortgage loan up to £750,000 with just a 5% deposit. The scheme is exclusively available on selected new-build homes. You can find out more here.


When a borrower fails to make the payments agreed with their lender.


Can refer to properties that have been newly built or have recently undergone a considerable refurbishment.


Fees that are paid by the solicitor on behalf of the buyer. These include fees such as stamp duty, local authority searches and money transfer fees.

Decision in Principle (DIP)

A document from a mortgage lender that confirms it will lend you a certain amount – typically based on your earnings and usually a credit search and credit score. This also known as an Agreement In Principle (AIP)


Also known as a deposit, this is the amount paid by the buyer to the seller on exchange of contracts to secure a property – usually 10% of the purchase price. 


An apartment that is split over two floors.


Early Redemption Charge

This is the financial penalty that you will be charged by a mortgage lender if you wish to repay all or part of the mortgage earlier than previously agreed.


Right granted to someone other than the owner of a property, such as a right of way over land – like a driveway for example.

Endowment mortgage

An interest-only mortgage that is combined with monthly payments into an endowment policy which allows the loan to be paid off in a lump sum at the end of the term.  

Energy Performance Certificate (EPC)

A certificate that details how efficiently a property uses energy with a ranking between A-G (with A being the most efficient). It also provides an estimation of energy costs and offers suggestions on how to improve your efficiency. A property must have a valid EPC before it can be marketed.


The portion of the property value that you own outright without a mortgage or loan secured against it. This includes any increase in the value of your home, your deposit, and the capital you have paid off on your loan.

Equity release

A scheme for those over 55 which allows you to release some of the equity in your property. Reach out to an Independent Financial Advisor for details about how to do this.

Estate agent

The person who advertises and arranges viewings of a property on behalf of the seller. Fees can often be negotiated and should be agreed before you advertise your home and will be either a fixed amount or a percentage of the sale price.


The agreed amount that you’ll have to pay if you make a claim on an insurance policy.

Exchange (of contracts)

The point at which signed contracts confirming the intention to transfer ownership between buyer and seller are physically exchanged. Both parties are legally bound at this stage and the deposit is also paid at the same time. The date to complete will be agreed (see Fixed Completion Date) or you will exchange ‘on notice’ (see On Notice)


First-time buyer

Usually refers to someone who is buying their first property. In the eyes of the government, this is an individual or individuals who have never owned an interest in a residential property in the United Kingdom or anywhere else in the world.

First Homes

The First Homes scheme enables local first time buyers and keyworkers to buy a brand-new countryside home at a 30% discount with just a 5% deposit. Find out more here.

Fixed Completion Date

When you exchange contracts, if your home is build complete or very soon to be, a fixed date for your Legal Completion will be agreed.

Fixed rate mortgage

A mortgage deal that comes with an interest rate that’s 'fixed' for an initial defined period.

Fixtures and fittings

The non-structural items in a property that should be listed as included in a sale. Speak to our sales consultants for more information about what comes as standard in our homes.

Flat Over Garage (FOG)

An apartment or house built over a garage or garages, also known as a coach house.


A drawing that shows you the layout and dimensions of a property from above. They can be shown as traditional 2D drawings or as digitally created 3D images.

Flying freehold

When part of a freehold property overhangs or underlies another freehold, for example, when a room is situated above a shared accessway or a balcony extends over another property.


If you buy a freehold property, you own the building and the land that it stands on outright indefinitely.


Foundations are the crucial part of structure designed to bear the load of a building; they are not usually visible as they are underground.

Further advance

Extra money provided by a lender to a borrower and secured on the property as part of the mortgage debt. This is usually at a different rate to your main mortgage.


Ground rent

An annual fee paid by the leaseholder to the freeholder of the property. Countryside’s standard ground rent is charged as ‘Peppercorn’ ground rent only. This means it is a ‘peppercorn’ of the nature you would find on a supermarket shelf. It is only due if demanded by the landlord. It is rarely, if ever, demanded.


A lender may require borrowers to appoint someone who will be responsible for their debt should they fail to pay their mortgage.


Help to Buy

Help to Buy closed on 31st October 2022 and was a government scheme aimed at helping first-time buyers with small deposits to buy their first home by providing an equity loan of up to 20% (40% in London).

Help to Buy ISA

The Help to Buy ISA closed on 30 November 2019 to new applicants. It was a tax-free savings account designed to give first-time buyers saving for a deposit a cash boost.

HomeBuyer report

A report carried out by a surveyor on behalf of a buyer to assess the value and condition of a property and highlight any major defects. The report will cover any major problems with the building, the general condition of accessible parts of the building and anything that could be expensive to fix in the future. It is a more detailed survey than a Condition report, but not as extensive as a Building survey. The HomeBuyer report is best suited to most modern and older homes in a reasonable condition.


Home Exchange scheme

A buying scheme that allows you to trade the value of your current home against a new build property. You can read about our Home Exchange Scheme here.


Independent Financial Adviser (IFA)

Need a hand with your finances? An independent financial adviser provides unbiased and unrestricted advice on financial products across the whole of the market.

Individual Savings Account (ISA)

An ISA is a savings account that is free from tax, with all the interest going straight into your pocket instead. The only catch is that you are limited to the amount you can save into an ISA every tax year; at present this is £20,000.


This is the fee charged by a lender to the borrower as compensation for the loss of the asset (usually either cash or consumer good), it can be charged as a monthly fee or annually (see APR). Interest is calculated as a percentage of the amount borrowed or the amount outstanding.

Interest-only mortgage

A type of mortgage where only the monthly interest charges are repaid initially. The mortgage amount itself i.e. the ‘capital’ is not paid off, instead the full mortgage must be repaid at the end of the term, often through an ISA, endowment policy or pension plan.


Land Registry

The government department responsible for recording the ownership of property and land in England and Wales.

Land Registry fees

Set fee paid to Land Registry to register ownership of a property. You can find more information hereThis would usually be handled by your conveyancer, who should detail these fees in their invoice to you.


A type of ownership where the buyer owns the property but not the land that it sits on. The right to occupy the property is granted by way of a lease agreement with the landowner for a given period. Leases are usually long term, ranging from between 90 years and 999 years. Read about our leasehold commitment here.

Legal Completion

This the completion of your purchase and when you finally get the keys and move in. The sale of the property is finalised, and the legal transfer of ownership passes from one party to another.


A financial institute that lends funds (a mortgage) to assist the borrower with a property purchase.

Lender's legal fees

The fees incurred by the lender in arranging a mortgage that are passed on to the borrower. They can usually be paid upfront or added to your mortgage.

Loan-to-value (LTV)

The ratio of how much your mortgage lender will cover the price of your property, written as a percentage. If for example, you buy a £100,000 property with a deposit of £10,000 (10%), then you’ll need a 90% LTV mortgage.

Local authority search

Checks carried out by your solicitor or conveyancer with the local authority regarding any information that might affect the property and/or the surrounding area.


Maintenance charge

A charge paid by a tenant or leaseholder to a landlord or managing agent to cover the cost of maintaining and insuring the building. It can also be known as a service charge.


A maisonette is part of a larger building but has its own private entrance, unlike standard apartments that share an entrance. They may also be over two-levels.


A long-term loan that has been borrowed from a bank or building society to pay for a property. The property acts as collateral, meaning that if you don’t keep up with repayments, the property can be repossessed by the lender to reclaim money owed.

Mortgage Deed

A legal document containing the terms and conditions of a mortgage.

Mortgage term

The number of years over which a mortgage will be repaid. This has traditionally been 25 years, but 30-year terms have become more common. The repayment term can go up to 40 years for younger buyers.

Mortgage valuation

A report commissioned by the lender to assess that the value of a property is worth what you are planning to pay for it and whether it is viable as security for the loan. It is important to note that this is not a survey.


Negative equity

When the market value of a property is lower than the outstanding mortgage loan balance.

NHBC (National House Building Council) Buildmark Warranty

The NHBC offer a 10-year warranty and insurance on affiliated new build homes. This is split into two periods, a fixtures and fittings warranty that covers the first two years and then the 10-year structural warranty. You can read more about the NHBC Buildmark warranty here.



The amount of money a potential buyer is willing to pay for a property. Despite an offer being accepted, it not legally binding in England and Wales and can be withdrawn or changed at any time up until the exchange of contracts.


Agreeing to purchase a property that is yet to be built. The buyer will be able to view the design and building plans while the property is under construction. There may also be a show home available to view as a similar example of what you will be buying.

On Notice

If your chosen home was not build complete at the point of exchanging contracts, you would have exchanged 'on notice'.  When your home is fully build complete, notice is served to your conveyancer advising completion is to take place in the next 10 working days, giving them time to arrange mortgage funds and for any personal funds to be transferred.


Preliminary enquiries

Initial set of standard questions from the buyer’s solicitor regarding a property that must be answered by the seller prior to exchange of contracts. These enquiries typically cover disputes, boundaries, planning constraints and permissions, rights of way, restrictive covenants, guarantees or insurance policies, services and utilities and any contents included in the sale.


The amount of money the insurance company will charge you for the policy you are purchasing, typically paid monthly.


The person, people or business buying a property. Commonly known as the buyer



When your mortgage has been repaid in full along with any other fees associated with it. This can be due to coming to the natural end of your mortgage term but is also often a part of the process for re-mortgaging or moving home.

Redemption Statement

The amount you have left to pay on your mortgage, including interest and any other fees. This may incorporate an early redemption charge. For those repaying their mortgage, it’s the total bill to be paid, while for those re-mortgaging, it is the amount you’ll need to borrow.

Repayment mortgage

The most common type of mortgage, it involves monthly repayments comprising of capital (the amount you borrowed) combined with interest. Provided you meet all your monthly payments, your loan will be paid off in full by the end of the mortgage term.


When a lender seizes a property due to the owner not keeping up with their mortgage repayments.


When you reserve a new build home, we put the property on hold for an agreed amount of time so that no one else can reserve it. This involves a reservation fee which you will eventually be deducted from the cost of purchasing your home.

Return on investment (ROI)

The amount of money you get back in comparison to the amount you put into an investment. ROI can be calculated by dividing the return of the investment by the cost of the investment, the result of which is then expressed as a percentage.



These are enquiries made by your solicitor or conveyancer to the local authority and Land Registry. They are raised to check for any issues that might affect the property or surrounding area that could impact the property now or in the future.

Section 106

A legal agreement under the provisions of the town and country planning act 1990, usually made between the housebuilder and the local authority, in which the housebuilder makes financial contributions for local infrastructure to help sustain the local community in which it is building. This could include providing affordable housing or public open space.


The person, people or business selling the property. May also be referred to as the vendor.

Share of freehold

When you buy an apartment that comes with a share of the freehold, you become part of the group of people or company that make decisions and organise the maintenance of the building. This can be preferable as it gives you more of a say over the management of the property.

Shared ownership

A scheme that allows you to buy a share of the property (usually between 25% and 75%) and then pay rent for the share that you don’t own. You can gradually increase your share in the property over time. Find out if you meet the criteria for shared ownership here.


After moving into a new build home, you might spot a snag – a small cosmetic issues or fault that need to be amended. Snagging is the process of addressing these issues.


A solicitor is a qualified expert that handles all the legal aspects on behalf of the buyer or seller throughout the property transaction. Their duties include managing contracts, collecting and transferring money, giving legal advice and undertaking local searches. They can give broader legal advice than conveyancers.

Stamp duty land tax (SDLT)

The tax that applies when purchasing a residential property in the UK. The charge applies regardless of whether the property is new or second hand, and the amount you pay depends on the purchase price. Stamp Duty also applies to both freehold and leasehold properties and whether you are using a mortgage or buying with cash. Read more about Stamp Duty here.

Standard variable rate (SVR) mortgage

A type of mortgage where the total amount you repay each month can vary due to changes in interest rates and market conditions. Each lender sets their own standard variable rate. You are usually transferred onto a SVR after finishing your fixed, tracker or discount mortgage deal.

Studio flat/apartment (also referred to as Suite)

A self-contained property where the kitchen, living room and bedroom are all integrated into one space with only the bathroom being separate.

Subject to contract

When an offer has been accepted on a property but there are not yet any legally binding contracts in place. The buyer or seller can still back out of the transaction at this point. Often abbreviated to SSTC (Sold Subject To Contract).


A report by a qualified building surveyor that details the condition of a property and highlights any issues to the buyer. There are three different levels of survey you can choose from (condition report, homebuyer report or building survey) depending on how much detail you require on the property.


Qualified expert who carries out the survey of a property. Most qualified surveyors are members of the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS).


Title deeds

Documents that show the legal rights to ownership of a property.

Tracker mortgage

A tracker is a variable rate mortgage that usually follows the Bank of England base rate for a specified period. As a result, your mortgage repayments can go up or down.


Under offer

When the seller has accepted an offer from a buyer, but no contracts have been exchanged.  

UK Finance (formerly the Council of Mortgage Lenders)

The main trade association (but not regulator) that represents UK mortgage lenders, including banks and building societies. They promote best practice in the industry and offer research and policy expertise


Refers to essential home services such as gas, electricity, water, sewage and phone and broadband connection.



Assessment of a home undertaken by an estate agent to estimate the current market value of a property. Not to be confused with a mortgage valuation which is undertaken solely for the benefit of a lender.  


Person who is selling a property, more commonly known as the seller.



The value of the rent you can expect to receive in a year stated as a percentage of the property value. To calculate the yield, simply divide the annual rental income by the price of the property and then multiply this by 100. If for example you bought a property for £100,000 and it was rented for £500 per calendar month, the annual yield would be 6%.