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Estate Agent Jargon

Jargon Busting: From Gazumping to Conveyancing

If gazumping sounds like gobbledegook and you feel like everyone’s suddenly talking a foreign language, our handy ‘jargon-busting’ guide to moving home might help...

Chain – this refers to the people linked together by the dependent sale and purchase of properties.  At the bottom of the chain are the people who have nothing to sell (i.e. first time buyers or those buying additional property) and at the top are those who are not dependent on the sale for another purchase – these vendors are referred to as having ‘no upward chain’.

Chattels – it may sound a little like a French castle, but this legal term (often referred to as ‘fittings’) means the moveable goods that may or may not be included in the sale of a property (not ‘fixtures’, which are not moveable).  A vendor is required list all chattels that are to be included, which may be things like the cooker, fridge, dishwasher, or shed.

Completion – this is the day you’ve been waiting for, when the money’s transferred and the keys to your new home are released.  It’s not always quick or straightforward, as the money from all sales in the chain has to be transferred on the same day to allow respective purchases to complete. 

Conveyancing – involves the legal transfer of the ownership title of property and/or land from one party to another.

Covenant – a rule governing what can/cannot or must/must not be done in/on a property or land.  Covenants can restrict certain things from happening (i.e. no animals can be kept or a business cannot be run) or they can refer to an obligation to do something such as maintain a boundary wall or contribute to the upkeep of a communal area.

Disbursements – part of the payment you make to your solicitor will be listed as ‘disbursements’ or payments they make to third parties on your behalf as part of the conveyancing, including searches, land registry fees and stamp duty.

EPC – aside from a few exceptions, an ‘Energy Performance Certificate’ is required every time a property is put up for sale or rent.  It gives buyers or tenants information about the building’s efficiency, running costs and potential areas of improvement.

Equity – the difference between the property’s value and the outstanding mortgage amount.

Exchange – when contracts are ‘exchanged’ the agreement to buy/sell becomes legally binding.  The buyer and seller sign and exchange the same contracts agreeing to the terms and conditions of the sale.  At this point, the completion date will also be agreed.

Freehold – if you own a property’s freehold it means you have outright ownership of the property and the land on which it stands.

Gazumping – an offer doesn’t become a legally binding agreement until contracts are exchanged.  ‘Gazumping’ is where a vendor has already verbally accepted an offer but later accepts a better/higher offer from another buyer.  The buyer whose offer is then rejected is said to have been ‘gazumped’.

Gazundering – similarly, gazundering refers to a situation where a buyer reduces an offer that has previously been accepted, typically just before exchange of contracts.

Leasehold – this means that you lease the rights to the property from the owner (or freeholder) for a predetermined number of years.  Leasehold agreements can vary drastically in length; they can be long (120 – 999 years) or shorter term (20 – 40 years).

Listed – a listed property is one which has been marked as having particular architectural or historical interest and is therefore worth protecting.  Any alterations to a listed building are subject to strict guidelines and approval.

Stamp Duty – the lump sum tax that buyers have to pay to HMRC, based on the purchase price of the property.  To calculate how much stamp duty you’ll have to pay go to  (NB. Scotland uses a different system called Land and Buildings Transaction Tax.)

Survey – a survey is an inspection of the condition of a building and any potential problems.  There are various types of survey involving different inspections and providing varying levels of detail.

Under Offer – a property is said to be ‘under offer’ when a buyer has made an offer of a purchase price which has been verbally accepted by the vendor.  This is not legally binding until contracts are exchanged.

Published Fri 12th May 2017 - Last updated Mon 19th June 2017

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