Deciphering Estate Agent Jargon

Estimated reading time 7 minutes

Whether you are buying or selling a property, lots can be going on all at once. Finances, contracts, surveyors, chains. It feels like it never stops, and then add to the mix a few terms you have never heard before, and you are soon left feeling like you have no idea what is happening!

Do not worry, you are not alone. Many people looking to complete a property transaction are often stumped by a certain wording in a contract or phrase uttered by an estate agent.

That is why today, the team at Gaffsy has got you covered. We delved deep to find the most common estate agent jargon and translate it into something you might find more understandable. We’ll even throw a few of the more unusual ones in there!


Agreement in Principle

Agreement in Principle simply means that an amount a mortgage lender estimates you could borrow has been decided. It will be used as proof that you can afford the mortgage payments and have funds in place to secure the property. You may also see it called decision in principle or mortgage in principle.


APRC or the Annual Percentage Rate of Charge is the amount of interest you will pay for the mortgage duration.


Building survey

The building survey is the assessment of the physical state of the property. It is carried out to uncover any defects and issues that may require attention.


Cash house buyer

Cash house buyers are either individuals or property companies that can buy your house outright with cash and no need for a chain or any of the other complications you may find. Some people are concerned that cash house buyers may not be the best option. Find out more with our blog do cash house buyers offer less?


One of the most used words when it comes to property. A chain is basically where several property transactions are interlinked. If one sale was to fall through, the chain breaks and the rest of the transactions are compromised.

Completion date

The completion date is when the property moves from one party to the other.


A conveyancer has an important role to play in the transaction. They cover everything legal regarding the sale and purchase of property.



The deposit will be the amount of cash you put down to secure the property. This can vary and is often around 10% of the total property value. The deposit is taken off the value and what is left is paid for by your mortgage.



An EPC or Energy Performance Certificate is something that shows the efficiency of the property. It indicates, via two charts, the energy efficiency and the environmental impact. They will be graded from A-G with A being the most efficient and G being the least.


Equity is the amount of money put into the property by the owner. For example, as you pay more of your mortgage, your equity in the house increases.


This is part of the transaction where both parties have agreed to all the terms. Once the contracts are exchanged, there is no backing out. Before the exchange, you can still walk away from the sale or purchase.


First-time buyer

Simply put, you are a first-time buyer if you have never bought or owned property. Renting doesn’t make you a first-time buyer.


This is where both the land and property are under the same ownership.


Gazumping and Gazundering

These can both be common in property and are things to watch out for. If you are gazumped, it means that someone has made an offer higher than yours that the selling party has accepted even though they initially accepted yours.

Gazundering is where the shady behaviour is on the buyer’s part. They lower their offer at the last minute leaving little room for rejection and finding an alternative buyer.

You might see the term chipping used when gazundering is being referenced.

Both are not illegal but are frowned upon within the industry.

Ground rents

Ground rents are the charges set by the freeholder (the person or business owning the land) to the leaseholder (the person owning the property).

Guide price

The guide price is what the property is expected to sell for.



An HMO is a House in Multiple Occupation. This is when a property has more than three people living as two separate households, for example. Our full guide to HMOs explains all you need to know about HMOs, should you be unsure about your property status.


Joint tenancy

When two or more people rent or own a property together.


Land registry

The land registry is a department of the government that holds all records on ownership of land. This will include sales, mortgages and so on. The conveyancer will use land registry data when conducting their searches.


A leasehold is where the property is owned but not the land. To fully understand more about selling leasehold properties, we have created an in-depth leasehold guide.


Negative equity

Negative equity is when the value of the property falls below the outstanding amount owed on it. For example, the property is now valued at £200,000 but the remaining mortgage balance is £250,000. You are in negative equity.

New build

This term can be used in varying instances. Some lenders or estate agents may not categorise a new build in the same way as each other. A new build is a property that has not been lived in before, however, the differing understandings of the definition can mean that some new build properties have been lived in but not bought, whether it has been converted, or whether the completion of building happened within a certain period.

No onward chain

As we mentioned earlier, many property transactions rely on a chain, otherwise they stall and break. Unless you are working with a cash house buyer, for example, where the property is purchased with no need for any more properties to link the sale together. If you are selling with no plan to buy, your property will be marked as having no onward chain. This can be quite an attractive proposition for potential buyers.


Sold subject to contract

Often seen as Sold STC. Sold subject to contract means that an offer has been accepted but is not at the stage of being legally binding.

Stamp duty

You will hear stamp duty fairly frequently, either in the news or from your estate agent. Stamp duty is essentially a tax that people pay when purchasing a house over a certain value. The rules for first-time buyers are different and the value paid differs dependent on the value. We advise reading our stamp duty guide to find out more.


Title deeds

Title deeds are the documents that show the chain of ownership for both land and property. You will commonly find within them: mortgages, deeds and leases.


Under offer

An estate agent may refer to this quite often. It means that an offer has been accepted by the selling party, but no contracts have been exchanged.

Have these made sense to you? If not, do not worry – with Gaffsy, you will never have to worry about half of these terms as we buy any home. This means no chains, no gazumping or gazundering and best of all, no stress. If you want to sell your house fast, speak to us. We promise we get things done quickly and easily. Get a free cash offer today and make that property move happen.

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