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Estate agent jargon decoded – 25 top phrases

by Jackson B

Selling your house or flat through an estate agent can seem like a great idea, until the agent starts using all manner of indecipherable jargon. That’s why it’s helpful to know the meaning behind some of the most popular terms used by estate agents before contacting them, because it’ll put you on an even level when you consider hiring them to sell your property.

Why estate agents use jargon with homeowners

Estate agents use jargon – think of complicated words like “gazundering” – when talking about properties, and to a regular homeowner many of the terms that the professionals use routinely can be highly confusing. Unfortunately most of these words are in common use throughout the housing sales industry, so there’s really no way to avoid hearing them.

You might be thinking about selling your house in the coming year, particularly with some suggestions that property prices in the UK might increase in 2021 despite the coronavirus pandemic. If that’s the case, and you’re thinking about using the services of an estate agent to sell your house or flat, check out the guide below for an explanation of some common jargon.

Top 25 phrases estate agents like to use, and what it really means

Knowing the meaning behind the various terms that estate agents use can help you more clearly understand what they tell you, leading to a more-informed home sale. Here, in alphabetical order, are 25 of the top phrases that estate agents use and what they mean, but note that this list is not exhaustive and there’s a lot of other jargon you might hear:

Agreement in principle: An initial estimate of the value of the mortgage you might be able to get

Base rates: The Bank of England’s interest rates, which can vary from time to time

Building survey: This is an assessment of the structural integrity of your home

Chain: A link of home sales dependent on each other for each sale to complete

Conveyancer: A legal professional whose speciality is overseeing house sales and purchases

Covenant: A binding promise contained in a deed about the use of the house or flat

Deed: A legal document stating who owns particular land or property

Deposit: A specific amount of money that you pay to secure the later purchase of a property

Easement: A landowner’s right to use adjacent land for a specific reason

Energy Performance Certificate: A legally required report on a home’s energy efficiency

Exchanging contracts: Signing the legal paperwork that makes the sale legally binding

Equity: This is how much money that you invested in your house or flat

Fixed-rate mortgage: A loan to buy a house with a fixed rate of interest

Freehold: You own the right to the house or flat outright, as well as the land it’s on

Gazumping: When a buyer accepts a higher offer from someone other than you

Gazundering: When a buyer lowers their initial price for purchasing your house or flat

HM Land Registry: Government entity that maintains a registry of property ownership

Leasehold: You own the home but you do not own the land it’s situated on

Mortgage: A loan that buyers use to help with the purchase of a house or flat

New build: A freshly constructed house that has never been lived in before

Stamp duty: A tax that buyers must pay if the property purchase price exceeds a set threshold

Surveyor: A professional who examines properties to assess any matters of concern

Title: A homeowner’s legal right to land or a particular property

Tracker mortgage: A loan whose interest rate varies based on the Bank of England base rate

Under offer: The home seller has accepted an offer from a buyer but not exchanged contracts

Ways to avoid having to deal with estate agent jargon

Of course, you might want to simply avoid having to deal with the above estate agent jargon altogether. Thankfully, you have a couple of options available if that’s your goal.

First, you might want to consider selling your house or flat at auction. This involves contacting an auctioneer who will promote the property and try to find interested bidders for the auction day, in exchange for fees (though you can sometimes pass these on to the buyer). You’ll get to avoid most of the jargon involved with selling through auction, but just remember that auctions are unpredictable and you might achieve a lower final sale price than you are seeking or need for your home.

Second, you could contact a fast property buying company like ldn-properties.co.uk. They’ll give you a straightforward cash offer for your house without charging any fees, and just as importantly without using any estate agent jargon. Another perk is that you can typically complete a sale to a quick home buyer within just a few weeks.


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