Home Buying Too Much Gobbledygook: Translating Homebuying Jargon

Too Much Gobbledygook: Translating Homebuying Jargon


The property industry is a tricky world to navigate. Buying a home is full of complex processes and legal requirements, involves dozens of different professionals, and complies to a dizzying array of legal regulations.

Jargon – the words and phrases that property professionals use – plays a big part in the industry and being able to accurately translate what you’re reading or hearing is central to feeling comfortable and confident throughout your buying or selling journey. 

To help facilitate your learning, we have put together a list of property jargon, split into three categories: 

  • Estate Agent & Listing Jargon: Things you’ll come across while searching for property online, and during viewings with estate agents. Estate agents, the cheeky so-and-sos, will sometimes use positive-sounding words to describe undesirable facts – it’s important you know the true meaning of such jargon.
  • Legal & Mortgage Jargon: Words and phrases commonly heard during the legal and mortgage stages of the property journey, once you have started the buying or selling process, most of which are designed to make solicitors feel clever.
  • People: The various different property folk you’ll come across in the industry.

Estate Agent & Property Listing Jargon

Best and Finals – This place is under high demand – lots of offers have already been put in. You’re going to need to bid boldly to stand a chance of owning the house. 

Bijou – Tiny

Cash from sale – The seller needs to sell their current house, but doesn’t need another mortgage.

Charming – A museum of the past.

Close to amenities and transport links – On a loud and busy road where the late-night drinkers are as loud as the traffic. 

Cosy – Small, probably with low ceilings. 

FTB – First-time buyer

Garden flat – Dark flat, probably in the basement/cellar. If you’re lucky, there will be one window out of which you’ll be able to see the feet of people walking by.

Gazump – Part-way through your purchase of the house, the seller accepts a higher offer from another buyer and you’re gonna have to offer more if you want the house.

Gazunder – The buyer lowers their offer close to the day of exchange of contracts.

Great potential – In desperate need of improvement, a.k.a knackered

Lots of buyer interest and lots of offers –  This is your last chance to bid, and it’s gonna need to be a generous one to stand a chance of owning the house.

Low-maintenance garden – Concrete garden. Pebbles if you’re lucky.

Non-dependent – A buyer who doesn’t need to sell their current property in order to buy yours.

Original décor – Rundown and outdated, anyone in their right mind is going to spend money redecorating the instant they move in. 

Pre-gentrified – Low-income area

Proceedable – The buyer has already sold their own property.

Quaint – Tiny

Ready, willing and able – The seller/buyer is ready to move straight away instead of, for example, being stuck in a chain or lacking a mortgage. 

Ripe for improvement – In need of improvement, aka Knackered

Sold as-is – The place is a dump, so what? Deal with it. 

Tyre Kicker – This buyer/seller is not motivated. A bit of a timewaster, unlikely to do anything. 

Unexpectedly re-available – Previous buyer pulled out and now the house is back on the market at a cheaper price. Probably because of a bad survey. 

Under-pinned – They try and make this one sound good, but it’s not. It means the house has subsided (sunk) and the foundations have had to be stapled back together to stop the house falling down.

Up-and-coming area – Low-income area, could also mean that there is lots of development and construction happening nearby. 

Vintage – Frozen in time.

Within driving distance of train station – Nowhere near train station.

Legal & Mortgage Jargon

ABO – Aborted transaction: the transaction has ended part-way through.

AIP – Mortgage agreed in principle

Break clause – An agreed moment, as stated in the tenancy agreement, when the tenant or landlord can end the rental contract early. For example, you might sign a 12-month tenancy agreement which includes a 6-month break clause. This means that, after 6 months, either party can end the tenancy after serving a written notice. 

Chain – A chain refers to a situation when the completion of several property sales are mutually dependent on one other. Occurs when someone agrees to buy a new home before completing the sale of their current home. 

For example: I own Home A but want to buy Home B. The current owner of Home B wants to buy Home C but can’t do so until I complete the purchase of Home B, which I can’t do until I have completed the sale of my current home, Home A. Thus, we’re all in a chain. 

Learn more about the chain, here.

Deeds – The legal documents which definitively prove who owns a property. 

DIP – Mortgage decision in principle

Disbursements – When buying or selling a home, you will need a conveyancer. You will pay this person an agreed amount of money for their services, but, along the way, there are a number of legal processes which require you to pay extra money on top of the conveyancer’s fee. These are called disbursements and include things such as Land Registry Fees, Local Authority Searches, and Stamp Duty. 

Learn more about disbursements, here. 

Down-valued -The mortgage lender has surveyed the home and has applied a lower valuation than the sale price – in other words, they don’t think it’s worth what it’s being sold for. It means your lender probably won’t give you as much as you need. 

EPC Certificate – The Energy Performance Certificate shows the energy efficiency and carbon emissions of a property, offering some insight into how environmentally friendly it is, and how much utility bills are likely to cost. Grade A is the best, E is the worst. Up-to-date EPCs are a legal requirement. 

Exchange of contracts – The point of no return, contractually speaking. You are committed to buy/sell the home. Hopefully, this is a happy day for all involved. 

Freehold – A freehold contract means you own the entire property, and its surrounding area, outright and indefinitely. This includes the garden, any attached paving or roads, the air space above you, and the earth beneath you. 

Homebuyer Survey – A report which tells a homebuyer about the physical condition of a property, including any defects and problem areas.

Leasehold – A leasehold contract means you own the property for a limited amount of time (usually hundreds of years) but do not own any of the surrounding areas. Leaseholds are most common with flats – you own everything within the walls of your flat, but not the corridors, gardens, or other communal areas. For this reason, you will likely have to pay the building owner a monthly service charge to maintain such areas. 

Local Authority Search – When you’re buying a home, your conveyancer will formally ask the local council whether there is anything happening, or planned to happen, which might affect the property now or in the future. This might include a new main road being planned to pass at the foot of your garden. 

MA – Market appraisal: the estate agent’s recommendation on how the best price can be achieved for a home in the seller’s desired timescale.

NTS – A buyer with nothing to sell 

Structural survey – A report which analyses the structural condition of a property. Conducted by a surveyor. It will tell you the true physical state of the home before you finalise your purchase.

Property People

Conveyancer – The legally qualified person that checks and progresses all the legal aspects of a property transaction. Buyer and seller need their own conveyancer. Learn more about conveyancers, here.

Estate Agent – Represents both buyers and sellers, helping facilitate the sale and purchase of homes. 

Letting Agent – Facilitates the process of renting homes, working as .middleman’ between the landlord and their tenants. Can also handle the ongoing management of rental property on behalf of the landlord. 

Negotiator (Neg) – An estate agency negotiator is a person who negotiates and facilitates the purchase and sale of homes. Negotiator and Estate Agent are sometimes used interchangeably. 

Solicitor (Sol) – legal experts who help facilitate the purchase of a home.

Surveyor – A surveyor will examine a property to analyse its structural integrity and make sure there are no nasty, expensive surprises, such as roof repairs, which will bite the new buyer or should be accounted for in the home’s asking price.

Leave a Reply