Test your knowledge against our quick guide to Estate Agency jargon

Chain – A chain is formed when several property sales and purchases are inter-dependent.

Completion – The point at which the sale of the property is concluded. Ownership and possession pass from the seller to buyer.

Contract race – Where two or more purchasers are given a contract and the first one to exchange contracts buys the property.

Covenants – Restrictions on the property in its title or lease.

Easement – A right that affects a property – such as the right of neighbours to pass over an access path or the right of the water company to have their pipes and drains running under the property.

Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) – Gives the energy efficiency and carbon emissions of a property and an indication of the fuel bills. A valid EPC must be available if you sell or let a property (Listed buildings are exempt).  

Equity – Your equity in your property is how much of it you own. It is the difference between the value of your home and the mortgage you still owe. Negative equity occurs when you owe more to your lender than the value of the property.

Exchange of contracts – The buyer and seller both sign the contract and the solicitors exchange the contracts. At this point, the sale is legally binding, normally a 10% deposit is paid and a completion date must be set.

Gazumping – Where a sale is agreed to a buyer and the seller accepts a higher offer from another buyer.

Gazundering – Where a buyer reduces their offer after the sale is agreed and before exchanging contracts.

Land Registry – A government office which is responsible for holding records of land ownership and any charges, including mortgages, against the property.

NAEA – The National Association of Estate Agents, the UK’s leading professional body for estate agency.

Repossession – If a mortgage is not paid over a period of time, the lender may ultimately take ownership of the property by the process of repossession.

Searches – These are conducted by the buyer’s solicitor to check if there is anything that might affect the current or future value of the property.

Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT) – The tax paid to the government by the purchaser of a property. Please see our guide here.

Sale Agreed/Sold Subject to Contract/Under Offer – They all mean the same – when a seller accepts an offer from a buyer and the legal processes of the transaction begin. Until contracts are exchanged the deal is not legally binding on either seller or buyer.

Tenure – The mode of holding ownership of a property: for example, leasehold or freehold.

Title deeds or deeds – Documents detailing and confirming the legal ownership of a property.

Vendor – The seller of a property.