Estate Agent Jargon – What You Need To Know

Estate agent jargon covers a wide range of expressions and words that many of us will be unfamiliar with when we start looking for a home to rent or buy – but we soon learn what they mean. Or hope we do!

From professional terms to the use of colourful words and phrases, this guide to estate agent buzzwords will be of help.

While estate agents are not the most popular of professionals in the UK, their use of jargon and other terms does little to endear them to buyers, sellers, landlords and renters.

You may have come across all or some of the terms being used and knowing what estate agents really mean can help you avoid buying or renting poor quality homes that are completely unsuitable.

The terminology for property estate agents will use

When it comes to the terminology for property that an estate agent will use, the list is very long and this is a glossary of most of them. It’s not exhaustive and this is purely for information purposes. Below we also take a light-hearted look at some of the everyday phrase that agents use.

Annual Percentage Rate (APR)

The loan’s total cost expressed as a percentage which includes interest charges and arrangement fees.


This is to transfer one person’s interest or right in a property to another person.

Memorandum of sale

The memorandum of sale is a crucial document that will confirm the point that a property sale has been agreed by the seller and buyer.

Arrangement fees

Fees charged by the mortgage lender for arranging the loan.

Arrangement fees are the fees charged by the mortgage lender for arranging the loan.

Break clause

In a fixed term rent agreement a break clause the tenant or landlord to give notice.


The signing of a document to accepting a lender’s offer a mortgage.

Bridging loan

Used to access money to buy a property before the borrower has sold their current home.

Structural survey

A detailed report on a property’s condition. This is not a mortgage valuation.


A property chain is when several home sales and purchases are dependant on each other for a successful outcome.


The contractual terms between the buyer and seller for when the sale is agreed.

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When the property sale is legally concluded and the keys are handed over.


The property’s equity is how much you own of it – the difference between the outstanding mortgage amount and the property’s value.

Completion statement

The solicitor or conveyancer will deliver a completion statement showing all costs and financial transactions they have incurred.

Base rate

The Bank of England’s rate for lending to other banks and is used as a benchmark.


A licensed conveyancer, or solicitor, deals with all of the legal aspects of selling and buying a property.


The act of legally transferring property ownership.


Capital or equity is the ‘profit’ on a property.

Capital is the profit on a property.

Assured shorthold tenancy (AST)

Most tenancies will be ASTs so the agreement is for a tenant who is not paying rent of more than £25,000 per year. The AST is usually for a fixed period.


When you own the property and the land it is on, this is the freehold.


An amount paid to secure a property and show commitment to completion. When renting, an amount paid as security for any damage caused during a tenancy.


Gazundering is when a seller faces a lower offer, often at the last minute, from the buyer which they must accept or find another buyer.


Property rights such as neighbours having access to a path on a property.

Conditions of sale

Specific items in a contract that govern what the buyer’s rights are and the seller’s duties.


The Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) illustrates a property’s energy efficiency and carbon emissions to help explain how much fuel bills will be.

Local authority search

A conveyancer acting for the buyer will ask the local authority if there are any issues to be aware of that might affect the future enjoyment of a property.

Exchange of contracts

When buyer and seller sign the sale contract which makes the sale binding.

Gas Safety certificate

A record that a property’s gas appliances and the flues and pipework are safe. All rental homes must have a certificate by law.


Sometimes a property will have specific rules in the lease or title deeds known as a covenant.


Should a seller agree to a higher price from another buyer, after agreeing to sell at a lower price, is known as gazumping.

HomeBuyer Report

The format is standard so a surveyor’s survey is easy to understand. Any issues will be listed – and their seriousness.


Carried out by a solicitor or conveyancer to check whether there are potential issues affecting the property’s value.

A solicitor or conveyancer will run "Searches" to check if there are any potential issues affecting the property value.

Land Registry

The Government office that holds land ownership records – and any mortgage held against the property.

Under offer

When the seller accepts a buyer’s offer the legal process begins and the property is ‘under offer’.

Mortgage valuation

This is when a surveyor acting for the mortgage lender carries out a survey giving the property a value.

Stamp Duty

This is a tax paid by the property buyer. Rates vary depending on the value.

Negative equity

Should a property be sold for less than the outstanding mortgage then there is no equity or profit.

Credit search references

A credit check by landlords or agents on the creditworthiness of a tenant.

Subject to contract

When contracts have yet to be exchanged so there’s nothing legally binding between seller and buyer.


A report prepared by a building surveyor who will check the property’s structure for faults. There are three types of report available depending on need and budget.

Title deeds

The document that confirms and gives details of a property’s legal ownership.


The property’s legal paperwork that proves ownership.


A term used to describe the property’s seller.

Words an estate agent may use as jargon that are funny

Finally, let us take a closer look at the words that an estate agent may use as jargon that are funny – and there are lots of estate agent catchphrases and estate agent funny quotes that are worth smiling over.

For example, when an estate agent says, “This property is ideal for a first-time buyer or for those wanting a buy to let investment.”

What they probably mean is: “The property we are selling is very small and it is in an unpopular area.”

Then there are other pieces of jargon that are completely see-through, for example, when an estate agent writes: “The property is in need of modernisation”.

Property descriptions from estate agents

An Estate Agent might use specific jargon that can actually be funny.

That seems to be straightforward but we have all encountered these property descriptions from estate agents and what they appear to mean is that the property that you are interested in is unlikely to have been updated or decorated for several decades and you will need to spend thousands of pounds completely refitting the home before you can even move in.

This also extends to any property being described as a ‘blank canvas’ – they mean that the property is derelict.

Other well-worn phrases that estate agents will use include: “The property is in need of some updating and is being offered with no onward chain.”

Essentially, the estate agent is trying to say that someone has died in the house recently and in the 50 years they have lived there, they’ve never bothered decorating.

And is anyone really taken in when an estate agent says: “The property is in a rural location.”

What the estate agent means is that the property you are interested in is not only very small, but it’s also a 30 minute drive from the nearest shop.

There’s also the issue of a property that comes with features that are described as ‘characterful’. What they may mean is that ceilings in the property are very low.

Popular terms used by estate agents

Other popular terms used by estate agents will be to describe a property as being conveniently located, which means potential buyers need to be aware that their home is likely to be on a very busy main road and perhaps above a busy takeaway.

There are terms being used that should flag up the property as a potential bargain and these include:

  • The property has become unexpectedly available – this means the previous buyer has probably pulled out at the last moment because their survey highlights that the property is hugely overpriced or that there’s a very big problem the buyer will need to fix.
  • We also like it when an estate agency exclaims ‘New price!’. This means that they were overly-ambitious when creating the price for the property when it was first advertised.
  • This also points us in the direction of a property being reduced, which means the seller is getting desperate.
  • And any use of the word ‘character’ will usually highlight that the potential property is dilapidated.

Estate agent buzzwords

Other estate agent buzzwords to be wary of include:

  • There are excellent transport links.

The home has a busy railway line or motorway within yards of it.

  • Ideal as a first three bedroom home.

The third bedroom can barely fit a person into it.

  • The property is set within a purpose-built residential development.

The home is in the centre of a very large housing estate.

  • Garden flat.

A basement flat that’s likely to be dark and damp.

  • The rear garden is low maintenance.

The rear garden has been concreted over

  • The living space is easy to maintain.

The home is very, very small

  • Local schools are within easy reach.

Local schoolkids will meet outside your home at lunchtime and leave litter.

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