Estate Agent Jargon Buster


Estate Agent Jargon Buster

When it comes to dealing with estate agents, it helps to be aware of the jargon they use when trying to help you sell, buy, or let a home. Here is a comprehensive list of the most common terminology that estate agents use.

A List of All Estate Agent Jargon

Absent Landlord

This is when a landlord cannot be contacted. If tenants want to make a right to manage company yet they can’t get in touch with the landlord, they can put forward a legal application to obtain the right to manage.

Administration fee

A fee that covers the costs of taking care of a property rental application. Tenants pay these fees when their tenancy at a property starts.

Agreement fee

A payment often shared between the landlord and tenant to cover the costs of putting together a tenancy agreement.

ARLA propertymark

The UK’s most trusted and professional body for letting agents, otherwise known as the Association of Residential Letting Agents.

Arrangement fees

Mortgage lenders or brokers charge these fees to arrange a loan.


When an interest or right in a property is transferred from one individual to another.

Assured Shorthold Tenancy (AST)

A special tenant agreement which allows a tenant to not pay over £100,000 a year in net rent. This covers a fixed period, and all parties are aware of the exact date when the property will become vacant.

Base rate

A rate of interest that the Bank of England charges as a result of lending to other banks. These interest rates become a benchmark for banks to charge when lending money to consumers. This is usually higher than the base rate.

Break clause

A clause that can be inserted in a fixed term agreement between a landlord and a tenant, especially when the initial fixed term is over a year. A break clause ensures a landlord or tenant can provide written notice after a particular date to end the tenancy earlier.

Building inspection survey

A survey carried out to inspect the physical condition of a property. The surveyor will produce a written report on all issues as well as analysing all accessible parts of the premises.


This is when various purchases and property sales are inter-dependent. Estate agents know the intricacies of a chain and can keep it going.


When a buyer gets the keys to their new home and the sale of a property is completed.

Completion statement

A document that your solicitor puts together which displays a record of all financial transactions associated with buying a property.

Conditions of sale

Certain elements of a contract that depict the duties of the seller and the rights of the buyer.


A legal document that states the agreement of terms between the seller and buyer. Draft contracts are sent to the buyer by a legal representative when a sale is agreed. When contracts are exchanged, both parties choose a date for the sale to reach completion.

Contract race

A common situation where a few potential buyers are given a draft contract and whoever exchanges the contract first purchases the property.


The legal process when the ownership of a property is transferred.


Legal documents that show ownership of a specific property.


When looking to buy a property this is the sum of money paid by the buyer during the exchange of contracts. This is commonly around 10% of the purchase price.

As for renting, a deposit is a sum of money held by the landlord to prevent violation of the tenancy terms and any damage caused to the property. Rent deposits are often the same cost as five weeks’ rent.

The Deposit Protection Service

A custodial scheme authorised by the government that all landlords and letting agents are free to use. During a tenancy a tenant’s deposit must be paid to the DPS. When an agreement is agreed between all parties at the end of the tenancy, the amount is paid back.


A term used to describe items that have been vandalized during a tenancy. Any costs for repair or replacement are paid for by the tenant.


A list of items that accompany legal fees in conveyancing such as mortgage redemption costs, search fees, Land Registry Fees, Land Tax and Stamp Duty. Prior to the start of the transaction, conveyancers should be able to predict the level of disbursements.

Draft contract

The first, rough copy of a contract which is often amended during a sale until it becomes final during the exchange of contracts.


This refers to a specific right that influences a property like water companies being legally allowed to have drains running underneath a premises.


An Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) displays how energy-efficient a property is and the amount of carbon emissions it produces. This provides an indication of fuel bill costs and is presented in two graphs - energy efficiency and environmental impact. Both are scored from A to G, where A is the best and G is the worst.

Exchange of contracts

A process where a buyer and seller both sign the contract for sale. The conveyancers then put forward this exchange at a specific time and date. No terms can be altered when the sale is binding.

Fixtures and fittings

When buying a property, fixtures are items that have become part of the premises and are included in the sale. Whereas, fittings are not permanently attached to a property and are not included unless agreed upon. A full fixtures and fittings form is devised by a seller that shows what can be bought with the property and what must be bought separately.

As for renting a property, items such as appliances, kitchen units, light fittings and curtains tend to be included. In any case, it is advisable to check what is provided before opting to rent a premises.


A type of property tenure that is very broad, it allows an occupation to continue for an unspecified period. Leasehold on the other hand, always consists of a certain period of occupation.

Gas safety record

A certificate that confirms all flutes, pipework and gas appliances are safe. Landlords must get this certificate as a legal requirement, and this must be renewed every year by a Gas Safe registered engineer.


Where a seller accepts a higher offer from another buyer despite already agreeing a sale price with an initial buyer. According to law, when contracts are exchanged estate agents must inform a seller about any other offers, they have received.


This is where a buyer lowers their offer during the exchange of contracts.

Ground rent

The annual charge demanded a freeholder on the leaseholder of a property.

Home Buyer Survey

A clear and concise report that details the physical condition of a property to a buyer. It summarises all the issues and how much attention each defect needs.


An inventory lists all the contents of a rental property. This includes the condition of each item as well as forming the main part of a dilapidation report when the tenancy is finished. It usually consists of photographs of existing damages and certain items.

Land registry

A government office in charge of holding records of land ownership and various charges against the property which may include mortgages.


The legal document that states a tenant is occupying a property for a specific period. When the period is over, the property goes back to the owner.


Living in a property using a lease agreement for a certain time. It mainly applies to flats but can also be used for houses.  A lease usually lasts 99, 125 or 999 years.

Listed building

A special building with regards to architecture and history. These buildings may be restricted from maintenance, repair, and use.

Multiple agent instructions

A situation where multiple estate agents and letting agencies are told by a seller to put a property up for sale or rent.

NAEA Propertymark

Otherwise known as the National Association of Estate Agents, NAEA Propertymark is the leading professional body for estate agencies in the UK.

Negative equity

Where the sale value of a property is lower than the amount remaining on the mortgage.

Open market value

The predicted price that a property will be sold at when there is a willing seller and a willing buyer. This usually includes a fair amount of publicity and marketing to promote the premises.

The Property Ombudsman

This is a free and independent service that resolves disputes between sales and letting agents. This applies to all buyers and sellers of residential property in the UK as well as members of The Property Ombudsman.


Where a lender takes back ownership of a property as a result of a mortgage not being paid over a specific period of time.

Share of freehold

This refers to when the freehold of a property is owned by a limited company and the shareholders are the owners of the property.

Sole agent

Where a seller or landlord only instructs one estate agency to put a property for rent or sale.

Sole selling rights

Where an individual is given sole selling rights by the seller of a property and can claim an agreed fee no matter who brings in the buyer.

Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT)

SDLT is tax paid to the government by the buyer of a property. In the UK, stamp duty has been removed for first time buyers for homes valued up to £300,000.

Subject to contract

A situation where a buyer or seller are not legally binded as no contracts have been exchanged.


A survey devised by a certified building instructor to assess any faults on a structure.


Where a tenant has possession of a property under the terms of a lease.

Tenancy agreement

A legal agreement between a tenant and a landlord regarding the occupation of a property.

Title deeds

Documents stating the legal ownership of a property.

Transfer document

A legally binding document that hands over the property and all of its rights from the seller to the buyer.

Under offer

When the legal process of a transaction begins because of a seller accepting an offer from a buyer.


A term estate agents use to cover up their opinion how much a property is worth on the open market.


The individual selling a property


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