Real Estate Terms

Here are some the more commonly used real estate terms


Allotment - A lot or block subdivided from a larger portion of land.
Amortisation period - The full term of the loan, in other words the number of years it will take to repay a home loan completely. Maximum amortisation period is usually 30 years.
Appraised value - An estimate of the value of the property offered as security for a home loan. This appraisal is for financial lending purposes and may not reflect the actual market value.
Assets - What you own.
Auction - Sale of a property in public to the highest bidder
Breach of contract - Breaking the terms of a contract
Brick Veneer - A system of building in which a structural timber frame is tied to a single brick external wall.
Bridging finance - A short-term loan, usually at a higher rate of interest taken out by people who have bought a house while waiting for theirs to be sold, or when a normal mortgage and their savings fall below the asking price.
Caveat - Is a document any person with a legal interest in a property can lodge with the Titles Office to ensure the property is not sold without their knowledge
Caveat Emptor - Latin for 'Let the Buyer Beware.' This puts the burden onto the buyer to be satisfied with the property before purchasing.
Certificate of Title - Legal proof of ownership of a property, carrying the owner's name and other information.
Chattels - Chattels are personal property. There are two types. Real chattels are buildings and fixtures. Personal chattels are clothes, furniture, etc.
Commission Fee - payable to real estate agent for selling a property by the person authorising the sale. Usually a percentage of the sale price.
Common Property - Areas in strata-title properties shared by all owners.
Conveyancing - Legal process of transferring the ownership of a property from one person to another.
Covenant - Conditions affecting the use of land or property written into the title.
Deposit - Usually 5% - 10% of the purchase price of a property placed in trust as evidence of intention to buy. It goes towards the purchase price when the sale goes through.
Easement - A right held by someone to use land belonging to someone else for a specific purpose. Mains, drains and water pipes are usually covered by and easement.
Encroachment - When a building overhangs someone else's property, or a fence is built over the dividing line between two properties
Encumbrance - An easement, mortgage, or other liability on a property which impedes its use or transfer.
Equity - The difference or charge on a particular property. For example, an easement as described above or a mortgage.
Fittings and Fixtures - a) Items like baths or stoves, b) lights and other fittings, and c) kitchen, linen or storage cupboards or wardrobes. Fittings are not normally included in a contract if they can be removed without causing damage.
Freehold - An owmer's interest in land where the property and the land on which it stands both belong to their owner indefinitely.
Interest-only Loans - Loan on which interest only is paid periodically and the principal paid at the end of the term.
Inventory - List of items included with a property for sale; usually furniture, furnishings and other removable items.
Investment - The purchase of an asset, as real estate, with the ultimate goal of producing capital gain on the resale of the asset.
Joint Tenants - Joint Tenancy is the equal holding of property by two or more persons. If one person dies, his share passes to the survivor/s.
Lease - A document granting possession of a property for a given period without conferring ownership. The lease document specifies the terms and conditions of occupancy by the tenant, including period of occupancy, rent payable, etc.
Maturity date - The last day of the term of the home loan agreement. The home loan must then be paid in full or the home loan agreement renewed.
Mortgage - Legal agreement on the terms and conditions of a loan for the purpose of buying real estate. (A Mortgagee lends the money to a mortgagor, the borrower).
Mortgagee - One who lends the money for the property.
Mortgagor - One who borrows the money to purchase property.
Offer to purchase - A formal legal agreement which offers a specified price for a specified property. The offer may be firm (no conditions attached) or conditional (certain conditions apply).
Plan - This shows the ground plan design, elevation of house, number and size of rooms, kitchen, bathrooms and laundry layout, position of the house on the land.
Principle - The actual amount of money that has been borrowed to buy a property.
Private Sale - The seller does not engage an estate agent but acts on his own behalf, dealing directly with the buyer.
Private Treaty Sale - Sale of property via an agent through private negotiation and contract.
Real Property - Land, with or without improvements.
Reserve price - Price below which an owner is not prepared to sell at auction.
Security - Property offered as backing for a loan. In the case of home loan money usually acts as the security.
Semi-detached - Two buildings joined by a common wall.
Settlement - Completion of sale when balance of contract price is paid to the vendor and the buyer is legally entitled to take possession of the property.
Sole agency - One agent or agency has the sole rights to sell a property.
Stamp duty - A State Government tax imposed on the sale of real estate. It is determined by the sale value, and it varies between states.
Strata Title - Most commonly used for flats and units, this title gives you ownership of a small piece of a larger property including'air space'. You have sole right to a particular unit and can lease, sell or legally dispose of your unit as you desire. You also have an undivided share of the common land. You also become a member of the Body Corporate which controls maintenance.
Stratum Title - This title gives you legal ownership over a piece of property and also gives you a share in the company set up to look after the common areas of the flats or units you live in. It does not include 'air space'.
Survey - Confirmation of the property boundaries and improvements.
Tenants in Common - Tenancy in Common is the holding of property by two or more persons, either equal shares or unequal shares. If one person dies, the property is dealt with in accordance with the law.
Title search - The process of examining the land title to ensure the vendor has the right to sell and therefore transfer ownership. A title search details the names of the owners and other information about the property such as encumbrances or caveats on the title.
Townhouse - Two storey attached building, usually Strata-Titled.
Transfer - Document registered in the Land Titles Office recording change of ownership of a property.
Unencumbered - Property free of covenants or other restrictions.
Valuation - Assessment of the value of a property given in a written report by a registered valuer.
Variable rate loan - A home loan for which the interest rate changes as the money market changes. The payment remains the same, however the amount applied to reduce principal changes according to change in interest rate.
Vendor - Person offering a dwelling for sale.
Villa - An attached dwelling usually single storey.
Zoning - Control of the use of land exercised by local authorities or the responsible planning authority