Estate Agents in Belfast 

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Estate Agent Glossary Of Terms

Administration/Application fee

This is a charge levied by the lender to cover the costs of processing a mortgage application. If an application is not completed, the fee may not be refunded.

Annual percentage rate (APR)

The APR is a compound interest rate figure used to compare different mortgages. Defined by law, it includes repayments on the loan plus any mortgage related fees such as booking, arrangement or basic valuation fees. The APR shows the true cost of borrowing over the entire term and should appear on all mortgage illustrations.

Applicant

The person or party looking to rent a property.

Appraised value

The value of a property, as estimated by a surveyor.

Appreciation

The increase in the value of a property as a result of changes in market conditions.

Arrangement fees

Fees charged to arrange a loan on certain products. Usually applied to loans where a special interest rate applies eg fixed or capped rates.

Asset

Any form of property owned by a person, including currency, stocks and enforceable claims against others.

Assignment

The transfer of ownership of an insurance policy or lease.

Assured Shorthold Tenancy (AST)

The most common type of Tenancy Agreement in the private rental sector setting out the rights and obligations of the landlord and tenant. It is used where the rent is below £25,000 per annum and the tenant is an individual, or group of individuals, rather than a company. The term must be for longer than six months.

Auction

The sale of a property to the highest bidder.

Break clause

A break clause gives the tenant or landlord the right to terminate a Tenancy Agreement, under specific circumstances, before the date it is officially due to end. Usually requires written notice.

Bridging loan

A short-term loan commonly used to cover or 'bridge' the overlap between the purchase of a new property and the sale of an old one.

Building survey (formerly full structural survey)

A full inspection of the property, conducted by a chartered surveyor, who will write a detailed report setting out the soundness of a property and any property defects. Suitable for any house, particularly older properties and those that have been poorly maintained as well as properties that have been extensively altered or extended, or any property due to be altered or extended.

Buildings insurance

An insurance policy that pays the cost of repair or rebuilding in the event your property is damaged or destroyed. Most mortgage lenders will require buildings insurance to be taken out as a condition of their loan.

Buy-to-let mortgage

A type of mortgage specifically designed for people buying a property with the intention of letting it out.

Capital

The amount of money either put into buying a property or the deposit placed on a property. Also known as equity.

Capped-rate mortgage

A capped-rate mortgage sets a maximum rate of interest that the lender can charge, but only for a specified period.

Chain

The situation that occurs when a buyer is reliant upon completion of the sale of their existing property in order to complete on the purchase of the new property.

Commission

A payment received from conducting business.

Common areas

Areas of land or buildings, such as gardens, hallways, recreational facilities and parking areas, where more than one resident shares access.

Company Tenancy

This form of Tenancy Agreement is used where a company is the tenant. There is no additional statutory protection; both landlord and tenant are bound only by the terms of the written agreement.

Comparative search

A search that looks at the actual sale values of similar properties in the same area as your property. This search is normally carried out by a surveyor and should give an indicative sale price for a property.

Completion

The completion date is the date on which money is forwarded from the buyer's solicitor to the solicitor of the vendor. It is the date that the buyer becomes the legal owner of the new property.

Conditions of sale

The details which determine the rights and duties of the buyer and seller. These may be national, statutory, or the Law Societys conditions.

Contents insurance

Insurance that covers the contents of a property, including electrical goods, carpets, furniture and curtains.

Contract

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

Contractual Tenancy

This form of Tenancy Agreement is used where the rent exceeds £25,000 per annum and the tenant is an individual or group of individuals. The tenant is not given any additional statutory protection and both parties are bound only by the terms of the written agreement.

Converted flat

A flat or apartment that has been created by the subdivision of a larger property.

Conveyancer

A qualified individual such as a solicitor or licensed conveyancer who deals with the legal aspects of buying or selling a property.

Conveyancing

The legal process surrounding the transfer of ownership of a property from buyer to seller.

Conveyancing fee

The charge made by a solicitor or conveyancer for undertaking the legal process necessary for the transfer of ownership of a property.

Corporate relocation

The process by which a company relocates an employee as part of the employer's normal course of business.

Covenants

Rules and regulations governing the property, contained in its title deeds or lease.

Credit check

The procedure by which a check is made on the credit history of an applicant, usually conducted by one of the large dedicated credit check agencies.

Credit history

A record of an individual's or company's past borrowing, including information about late payments and bankruptcy.

Deeds

Legal documents proving ownership, generally held by the mortgage lender.

Deeds release or discharge fee

The fee charged by lenders at the end of a mortgage term to cover the administrative costs of transferring the property ownership documents to the borrower.

Deflation

A situation in which prices are falling (the opposite to inflation).

Deposit

A sum of money (usually 4-6 weeks rent) paid by the tenant prior to moving in.

Depreciation

The decline or reduction in the value of a property caused by changes in market conditions (the opposite of appreciation).

Detached

A term used to describe a property that stands alone, separate from all others.

Development

A newly built residence or an older property that has been refurbished and modernised.

Dilapidations

Any disrepair or damage to a rented property. The costs of the dilapidations are usually recovered from the deposit.

Disbursements

Fees paid by the buyer's solicitor on the buyers behalf such as stamp duty, land registry and search fees.

Discharge

Paying off a mortgage.

Down valuation

When the lender restricts the amount you can borrow after the surveyors valuation report indicates the property is not worth the sum sought.

Draft contract

Preliminary, unfinalised version of the contract.

Early Repayment Charge (ERC)

A charge levied by the lender as a penalty if a mortgage is paid off within a specified period.

Energy Performance Certificate (EPC)

An EPC measures the energy efficiency of a property using a scale of A-G. It is a legal requirement to have a valid EPC for their property.

Equity

The amount of money either put into buying a property or the deposit placed on a property which exceeds the amount of any money borrowed against the property. Also known as capital.

Excess

The initial sum paid on an insurance claim.

Exchange of contracts

The point at which signed contracts are physically exchanged, legally committing the buyer and seller to the purchase and sale of a property at the agreed price.

Financial Services Authority (FSA)

An independent body that regulates the financial services industry in the UK.

Fixed rate mortgage

A mortgage in which the interest rate is set for an agreed period of time.

Fixtures & fittings

All non-structural items included in the purchase of a property.

Flexible mortgage

An arrangement whereby you can increase or decrease your mortgage.

Freehold

Where the owner of the property also owns the land on which it is built.

Gazumping

This is when a seller accepts a higher offer from a third party on a property that they have agreed to sell to someone else prior to exchange of contracts.

Gazundering

When a buyer reduces his agreed offer prior to exchange of contracts.

Ground rent

The annual charge levied by the freeholder to the leaseholder.

Guarantor

The lender may sometimes require a borrower to appoint a guarantor. This is someone who promises to pay the borrowers debt if the borrower defaults.

Higher lending charge

An up-front, one-off fee paid to the lender to protect them against the borrower defaulting on the loan. Usually charged on mortgages over 75% of the house value.

Homebuyer's survey and valuation

This is a survey report, which is not as detailed as a structural survey, carried out by a chartered surveyor to assess the state of a property and its value.

Household insurance

An insurance policy that protects against loss or damage to the property caused by fire, some natural causes and acts of vandalism. Also see Buildings insurance and Contents insurance.

Houses in Multiple Occupancy (HMO)

A building of three floors or more which is to be occupied by three or more people and where these people live as more than one household and share facilities such as bathrooms, toilets or cooking facilities.

IFA

Independent Financial Advisor.

Individual Savings Account mortgage (ISA)

An interest-only mortgage linked to an Individual Savings Account fund, which is designed to pay off the loan at the end of the period.

Inflation

The general rise in prices over time.

Interest charges

The charges that banks make on a loan, calculated as a percentage of the amount borrowed.

Interest-only mortgage

A type of mortgage in which the borrower only repays the interest on the loan for the duration of its term and repays the full loan amount at the end of the mortgage period.

Inventory

A list describing the condition of furnishings and contents of a property at the commencement of the tenancy, against which dilapidations/weaknesses etc which occur during the tenancy can be measured.

Joint income

The total gross income of the two borrowers in a joint mortgage.

Joint tenants

A form of ownership for two parties whereby if one of them dies, their share of the property will automatically transfer to the remaining party, giving them full ownership (regardless of the terms of the deceased owner's will).

Land registration

The process of registering the legal title of an area of land with the land registry, typically handled by a solicitor.

Land registry fee

The fee payable for the above.

Landlord

The owner of property that is rented.

Landlord's reference

A reference given by a previous landlord, which confirms an applicant's history of payment of rent and previous conduct as a tenant.

Lease

A legal document by which the freehold (or leasehold) owner of a property lets the premises or a part of it to another party for a specified length of time, after the expiry of which, ownership may revert to the freeholder or superior leaseholder.

Lease agreement

The formal legal document entered into between a landlord and a tenant that reflects the terms of the negotiations between them. It constitutes the entire agreement between the parties and sets out their basic legal rights.

Leasehold

A type of ownership in which a person owns a property, but not the land on which it is built. The owner of the Freehold will grant a lease on the property for a specified length of time.

Legal charge

A mortgage on the property.

Lender

The party, typically a bank, building society or mortgage company, offering the loan.

Lenders arrangement fees

Charge passed on to the buyer by the lender for arranging a loan.

Listed building

A building officially listed as being of special architectural or historic interest, which cannot be demolished or altered without prior (local) government approval.

Loan to value (LTV)

The proportion of the value of the property on which the lender is prepared to loan. This can be up to 100%.

Local authority search

Procedure whereby a buyer's solicitor checks with the local council regarding any outstanding enforcement or future development issues which might affect the property or immediate area.

Maintenance charge

The cost of repairing and maintaining external or internal communal parts of a building charged to the landlord. Also known as service charge.

Maintenance charge (or service charge)

The cost of repairing and maintaining external or internal communal parts of a building charged to the tenant or leaseholder.

Maisonette

A self-contained apartment (usually on two floors) in a larger house with its own entrance from the outside.

Mortgage

An amount of money advanced by a lender such as a bank or building society on the security of a property and repayable over a long period.

Mortgage Payment Protection (MPP)

This is an insurance designed to pay your monthly mortgage for a limited period, usually a year if you are unable to work through illness, disability or redundancy.

Mortgage broker

A company which advises lenders on the types of loans available and which helps to process any subsequent application.

Mortgage deed

The legal document that confers ownership or title to a property.

Mortgage rate

The standard variable interest rate quoted by all mortgage lenders which normally varies in line with the Bank of England base rate. All discounted rates are based on this mortgage rate.

Mortgage term

The period of time over which a mortgage loan must be repaid.

Mortgage type

This may be a fixed, variable, capped, discount, tracker or another type of mortgage.

Mortgage

The lender of a mortgage (ie bank or building society).

NHBC scheme (National House-Building Council)

A type of building guarantee available on some newly built homes under which defects occurring within a specified time after construction are remedied.

Negative equity

A situation in which the value of a property has fallen to below the level of the loan secured on it.

Offer

A sum of money that the tenant offers to pay to rent a property.

Offer of a loan

A formal document approving the mortgage you have requested and detailing the Terms and Conditions that will apply.

Open market value

The price a property should achieve where there is a willing buyer and willing seller.

Payment break/holiday

An option on flexible mortgages that allows you to stop making mortgage payments for up to six months.

Penalties

A specified charge that is levied by the lender under certain circumstances, usually for full or part repayment within a specific period linked to a discount, tracker, fixed or other product type.

Portable Appliance Test (PAT)

A test carried out by a registered engineer to ensure that all electrical installations and appliances within a property are safe in conjunction with the Electrical Equipment (Safety) Regulations 1994..

Preliminary enquiries

The initial enquiries about a property put forward to a seller, which the seller must answer before the exchange of contracts.

Premium

The monthly amount payable for an insurance policy.

Premium lease

Where rent for the property is paid in full up front.

Principal

The amount of debt outstanding (excluding interest).

Property Management

The management of a property on behalf of the owner.

Public liability insurance

Insurance that covers injury or death to anyone on or around a property.

Purchaser

A person who is buying a property.

Re-mortgage

Refinancing a property by either switching a mortgage from one lender to another or by taking out a second mortgage to take advantage of any equity gained by a rise in value.

Redemption

When a mortgage is fully repaid.

Renewal of contracts

Opportunity to renew a contract which has or will shortly expire.

Repayment mortgage

A mortgage in which monthly charges are used to repay the interest and reduce the outstanding capital.

Repossession

When the mortgage lender takes possession of a property due to non-payment of the mortgage.

Retention

The ability of a lender to hold back (retain) part of a mortgage until certain conditions are met.

Search

A request or enquiry for information concerning the property held by a local authority or by the Land Registry.

Semi-detached

A property that is joined to one other house.

Short let

A short let is a property which is typically let for a period of less than six months (subject to local authority restrictions). When renting a property on a short let basis, all utility bills are included in the rent (excluding telecommunications services).

Sitting Tenant

A person occupying a property who is legally protected against being removed.

Sole agent

When a seller chooses only one estate agent to sell their property.

Sole occupancy

A property that is occupied (lived in) only by the mortgage applicant(s) and their direct family.

Solicitor

Legal expert handling all documentation for the sale or purchase of a property.

Stamp duty

A tax paid by purchasers of between 1% and 4% depending on the value of the property.

Standard variable rate

Mortgage lender's standard rate of interest, which may be increased or decreased periodically by the lender depending on prevailing economic conditions.

Structural survey

This is based on a detailed inspection of the property and reports on the general structural condition.

Studio flat

A flat consisting of one main room or open-plan living area, incorporating cooking and sleeping facilities usually with a separate bathroom/shower room.

Subject to contract

Words which confirm that an agreement is not yet legally binding.

Surveyor

A professional person qualified to estimate the value of land and property.

Tenancy

The temporary occupation of a property by a tenant.

Tenancy agreement

A legal agreement designed to protect the rights of the tenant and landlord setting out all Terms and Conditions of the rental arrangements.

Tenant

An individual, group of individuals (up to four) or company who holds or possesses property for a time, in return for the payment of rent.

Tenure

Conditions on which a property is held (i.e. length of lease).

Term

Definition

Terraced house

A property that forms part of a connected row of houses.

Title deeds

Documents showing the legal ownership of a property.

Title insurance

An insurance policy which a buyer can take out to allow a sale to complete where there is a potential problem with the documentation in proving legal ownership of some part of the land he is buying.

Title search

An investigation, carried out by a conveyancer or solicitor, into the history of ownership of a property. The search will check for liens, unpaid claims, restrictions or any other problems that may affect ownership.

Tracker mortgage

A type of mortgage whereby any changes in the rate of interest charged follow exactly ('track') another, specified, interest rate or index. Typically a tracker mortgage will track the Bank of England base rate.

Transfer deeds

The land registry document that transfers legal ownership from seller to buyer.

Under offer

The status of a property to let when a landlord has accepted an offer from a prospective tenant, prior to exchange of contracts.

Valuation

A basic survey of a property to estimate its value for letting purposes.

Value

The price of a property under normal conditions, ie when the buyer is not forced to buy and the seller not forced to sell.

Variable base rate

The basic rate of interest charged on a mortgage. This may change in reaction to market conditions, so monthly payments can go up or down.

Vendor

The person selling a property.

Void

An empty area or space.

Void period

Period of time where the property is empty/unoccupied by the tenant.

Yield

Income from a property calculated as a percentage of its value.