A First Time Buyers Guide to Property Jargon

Signing a contract
Posted on October 9, 2020 Categories: Buying a House, First Time Buyers, Getting a Survey, Moving Home, Valuations


Here at White Horse Surveyors, we understand that the property market is full of confusing language and jargon. Many of these terms can be difficult to understand, especially if you are first-time buyer and unfamiliar with the process of purchasing a home.

That is why our term has put together the following article – to outline some of the key terms and provide a clear description of its meaning…


A dangerous fibrous material commonly used in the late 1900s and first half of the 20th century to insulate and strengthen various other materials.
Read more here.

Building Survey

The most detailed property inspection available to homeowners. By commenting on the structure and composition of the building, as well as any potential concerns or defects, they aim to provide a highly detailed inspection of the property.

Despite being non-invasive, these reports can also be adapted to suit your personal needs or requirements. This includes the option to include the following sections:

 Valuation – Provides an independent assessment on the current value of the property.

• Cost of Repairs – the estimated budget costs involved in rectifying the more serious defects that the surveyor identifies.

For the full details, visit our dedicated page here.


Refers to a situation where a property is being bought with the specific intention of letting it out/rent it out to other tenants.

These often require a specific buy-to-let mortgage that is designed especially for this purpose.

Capital Gains Tax

Capital Gains are defined as the profit made whenever you sell or dispose of an asset. You are typically required to pay a tax on this profit that is based on amount the property eventually sells for.

However, occasionally, this will be calculated using the market value of the property instead.

Chartered Surveyor

A Chartered Surveyor is a trained professional that specialises in the assessment of physical assets. More specifically, they can provide an expert opinion on the value and/or condition of a property.

By acting on your behalf to provide an unbiased report on the property, a surveyor can potentially identify any issues or defects that may affect the potential market value of your home.

To learn more about the benefits of a Chartered Surveyor, simply click here.

Desktop Extensions

In recent years, delays during the exchange process have become common place. These hold-ups can often lead to a valuation (Help to Buy and Shared Ownership) exceeding its 3-month period of validity. After this point you will be required to extend the valuation to account for any changes that may have taken place in the property market.

At a reduced price, our Desktop Valuations can extend a valuation for an additional 3-month period -without the need for a physical inspection.

For the full details, visit our dedicated page here.


Downsizing describes the process of moving into a property that is smaller than the one you currently own. It is a common term among older homeowners who have found that the house feels empty now that their children have grown-up and moved out.

However, this decision may also be made on a financial basis, to reduce the costs and upkeep associated with owning a large home.

For the full details on the various benefits and limitations of downsizing, check out our blog on the topic here.

Energy Performance Certificate (EPC)

An Energy Performance Certificate provides details on the energy efficiency of the property. It will rate the efficiency of the property using standard calculation methodology in the banding of ‘A-G’.

The report will also include recommendations on how you can improve the property’s energy efficiency and approximate the costs involved in running the property.


This is a formal term that relates to the share of a property that is owned by the occupant.

For example, if the property is worth £250,000 and your mortgage is worth £100,00, then your overall equity is £150,000.

As you continue to make payments on this mortgage (or as the property market adjusts) this equity will increase.


Gazumping describes a property situation where a seller accepts a buyer’s offer only to later accept another, higher offer from another party and drop the first buyer.

It is also used to describe the unscrupulous practice of inventing fictitious higher offers. This is done to try to convince the buyer to raise their offer to match, even though it was already accepted at a lower amount.

For more information on this term, check out this guest blog from Girlings Solicitors here.

Help to Buy (Shared Ownership)

Shared Ownership is a government backed scheme that was primarily introduced to help first-time buyers get an initial step on the property ladder. By splitting the cost of a home between shared and rent, it is especially beneficial to those on lower incomes who are struggling to save for a deposit.

More specifically, it gives the buyer an opportunity to purchase a share for a new build or resales home, with the remaining costs being paid as rent. This share will be worth between 25% and 75% of the property’s market value, depending on what you can afford.

To read more about this scheme, click here.

RICS Home Survey – Level 2 (survey only)

The RICS (Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors) Level 2 Survey is suitable for a range of well-maintained properties, including any conventional homes, flats or bungalows that have been constructed from common building materials.

For all the essential details, click here.

Home Condition Report

A Home Condition Report represents one of the most cost-effective solutions to those who require a general overview of the property but are limited by their finances. By utilising a traffic-light based system, any identified issues or defects will be allocated one of the following condition categories:

Condition Rating 1 = Routine Maintenance Only – No Immediate Repairs Are Required

Condition Rating 2 = Non-critical Repairs Are Required

Condition Rating 3 = Critical Repairs Are Required

This information is presented alongside details on the general construction, as well as any other potential risks or serious defects that should be considered. All of which is presented a straightforward and digestible assessment.

To read more, simply visit our website here.


A Property Inventory is usually completed whenever a house is rented out to new tenants. It is a detailed account which outlines all the contents within the property, as well as a note on their condition.
This can sometimes be referred to as the Inventory Report.


A Leasehold property describes a purchase where you do not own any of the land the property is situated on. Instead, you are essentially renting the home over a long period of time.

The timeframe of these leases can vary from a few decades to whole centuries.


A Mortgage refers to a loan that is used to buy property. Typically provided by a Bank and/or Building Society, it is used to supplement a cash deposit paid by the homeowner.

This loan is usually repaid in monthly instalments that span several years.

Mortgage Valuation

A Mortgage Valuation provides the information that is strictly for the Bank or Building Society. This is so that they can determine if the property is a suitable security for the mortgage advance.

This is not the case with a Private Valuation, which is conducted on your behalf.

For the full details, check out our blog post on the topic here.

Negative Equity

Refers to a situation where an individual’s mortgage is greater than the current value of the home.

This is typically a result of falling property prices and/or a financial crisis.

To read more about how you can calculate this figure, click here.

Private Valuation

Completed via a physical inspection, these reports provide an independent assessment on the current value of the property.

When providing these valuations, a surveyor will consider the age, size, and condition of the home (as well as several other factors) before comparing these to similar properties that have sold in the local area. Because of this, Private Valuations are suitable for a wide range of purposes.

Learn more here.

Property Chain

Property chain is a term used to describe the link between home buyers and sellers. More specifically, it outlines the sequence of people and events that must take place for the transaction to be completed.

These links are reliant upon each other – meaning that any delays or breaks in chain could potentially lead to the sale falling through.

Red Book

A Red Book RICS Valuation is the name given to a valuation report that adheres to the RICS (Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors) professional valuation standards.

The Red Book contains mandatory rules, best-practice guidance and related commentary for all RICS-registered valuers undertaking asset valuations.

To learn more, simply click here.

Reinstatement Cost Assessment

A Reinstatement Cost Assessment (RCA) refers to a calculation made using a RICS Building Cost Information Service (BICS) table. The sum represents the total cost involved in restoring or rebuilding a property following a range of insured events such as a fire, explosion, flooding, subsidence, etc.

RICS recommend that an RCA is updated every three years. This way the homeowner can efficiently account for the effects of inflation.

To learn more, click here.

Remote Valuation

A Remote Valuation represents the fastest way to obtain an independent valuation of a residential home. This is because no physical inspection of the property is necessary at any stage of the process.

Instead, surveyors use a combination of comparable properties (that have sold in the local area) and information available via a range of commercial/government funded websites to provide an indication of the market value – adjusting for any differences in age/size/type/condition etc of the comparable properties. Avoiding the hassle or inconvenience typically associated with a physical inspection.

For more information on which properties are suitable for this form of valuation, simply visit out dedicated service page here.


The process of remortgaging refers to the action of taking out a new mortgage on a property that you already own.

There are many reasons that you may want to change your current deal, but they usually for the following purposes:

• To reduce your current mortgage payments
• To release any current equity on the property

To read more, check out our recent blog post on the topic here.

RICS (Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors)

RICS represent the international governing body of surveying and are responsible for setting many industry standards.

To learn more about their work, simply click here.

Scottish Home Report

A Scottish Home Report refers to an information ‘pack’ which contains details about a residential property which is on the market for sale in Scotland.

It should be given to anyone interested in buying that given property.

Learn more here.

Contact Us

If you are thinking about requesting a property survey for any of the purposes listed in this article, and require expert advice regarding the process, please get in touch and on of our friendly and expert sales team will be happy to discuss this with you. Give us a call on 01249 444465 or drop us an email via .

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