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Glossary of Terms

  • Sole Agency

    Applies if the estate agent is the only agent with the right to sell your property. If you find a buyer yourself, you don't have to pay the estate agent's commission.

  • EPC

    An EPC (Energy Performance Certificate) is a report on the energy performance of a property. It is produced in accordance with the requirements of the European Union directive 2002/91/EC. A report is produced which includes an Energy Efficiency Rating, similar to that found on domestic appliances Measuring the overall efficiency of a home on a A to G scale the report also indicates the potential rating should low cost measures be undertaken. The reports are based on standard occupancy patterns enabling comparisons to be made between one house and another. The energy performance related features are also assessed ‘good/average or poor’ and provides recommendations as to what measures can be undertaken to improve the properties performance and ideas of the approximate costs.

  • Freehold Property

    If the property is freehold, this means that the land on which the property is built is part of the sale and no ground rent or service charge is payable.

  • Leasehold Property

    A property may be leasehold, which means that the land on which the property is built is not part of the sale. You have to pay ground rent to the owner of the land - who is called the freeholder.
    The length of a lease can vary and you should check that the length of the lease on the property you are interested in buying is acceptable to the mortgage lender.

  • Commonhold Property

    If the property is commonhold, this means that you can buy the freehold of a flat and own common parts of the building jointly with the owners of other flats in the building (known as a commonhold association).
    In commonhold a ground rent or service charge is not payable. However, a share of the commonhold association's expenditure on maintenance, insurance and administration will be payable for the common parts of the building.

  • Repayment Mortgage

    This is a mortgage in which the capital borrowed is repaid gradually over the period of the loan. The capital is paid in monthly instalments together with an amount of interest. The amount of capital which is repaid gradually increases over the years while the amount of interest goes down.

  • Interest Only Mortgage

    With this type of mortgage, you pay interest on the loan in monthly instalments to the lender. Instead of repaying the loan each month, you pay into a long-term investment or savings plan which should grow enough to clear the loan at the end of the mortgage term. However, if it doesn't grow as planned, you will have a shortfall and you will need to think about ways of making this up.
    There are three main types of interest-only mortgages. These are:
    • an endowment mortgage. This mortgage is made up of two parts - the loan from the lender and an endowment policy taken out with an insurance company. You pay interest on the loan in monthly instalments to the lender but do not actually pay off any of the loan. The endowment policy is paid monthly to an insurance company. At the end of the mortgage term, the policy matures and produces a lump sum which should pay off the loan to the lender. In some circumstances, an endowment policy may produce an additional lump sum. However, there is also a risk that it will not be worth enough to pay off the loan at the end of the mortgage term. If you have been told by your endowment provider that your policy will not be enough to pay off your loan, you should seek independent financial advice. You can get information about dealing with endowment policies from the Financial Services Authority (FSA) at www.moneymadeclear.org.uk
    • a pension mortgage. This mortgage is mainly for self-employed people. The monthly payments are made up of interest payments on the loan and contributions to a pension scheme. When the borrower retires, there is a lump sum to pay off the loan and a pension
    • an ISA mortgage. With an ISA mortgage, you pay interest to the lender, and contributions to an Individual Savings Account (ISA) which should pay off the loan.

  • Sole Selling Rights

    This is a very restrictive term. In essence it means that only your estate agent has the right to sell your property. This means regardless of who finds the buyer or how the buyer is found you still have to pay the agent.

    Watch out..if you're looking for a quick sale. In these circumstances this arrangement is not ideal as it may increase your costs if you decide to back up your estate agent's efforts with internet advertising or additional press advertising. It's also an unsuitable arrangement if you need a certain sale by a specific date. Under these circumstances you want to be able to have a 'plan B' which might mean seeking a cash buyer or putting your house into an auction..

  • Joint Agency

    Some estate agents offer a 'joint sole agency' contract where two estate agents agree to share one commission, although the total fee may be higher than for other agreements.

    Watch out…if you appoint more than one estate agent to sell your property under a sole agency or a sole selling rights contract, each agent has the right to claim their fee when the property is sold.

  • Multiple Agency

    You can ask several estate agents to act for you on a multiple-agency basis. Only the estate agent who sells the property will be entitled to a commission. The rate of commission may be higher than for sole agency/selling rights contracts.