Buying a new build home glossary: in plain English...

Ocean land & new homes

We try to use plain English and avoid jargon wherever possible, but there are a few terms you may not be familiar with or that need a bit more clarification.

Completion Date

Completion of the legal transaction with all monies and documents having been distributed. This is also when the developer’s solicitor will instruct the estate agent to release the keys. There is usually a “long stop” date by which they must have completed all works.


The agreement that sets out the main terms that have been agreed – for example: price, address and names. Two copies are drawn up, and each party signs one in readiness for exchange of contracts.


The part of the purchase price which the buyer pays on exchange of contracts. Usually 10% on standard purchases and 5% on Help to Buy purchases.


Energy Performance Certificate; this contains information on energy use, energy performance, carbon dioxide emissions, and fuel bills.

Exchange of Contracts

The swapping of signed contracts by the solicitors (together with the buyer’s deposit). After this, the contract is legally binding, from which neither party can withdraw without financial penalties.

Ground Rent

The annual fee which a leaseholder pays to the freeholder.


Independent Financial Advisor.

Land Registry

The Government department that records who owns what land, and under what conditions.


To be given ownership of a property, but not the land it is built on. This normally requires payment of ground rent to the landlord. A leasehold can be offered for a various number of years for example: 125, 250 or 999 years.

Longstop Date

A longstop date is the date works should be completed. If a developer fails to finish the property by this date, you may be entitled to withdraw your offer to buy the property without penalty.

Maintenance Charge

A charge made towards the upkeep of a freehold or leasehold property.

Memorandum of Sale/Sales Letters

This document records the fact that both the buyer and developer have agreed to the transaction. It can also be called a Notification of Sale. It usually records the details of the price being paid, the details of the developer and buyer and their respective lawyers. If there are any conditions to the sale (e.g. exchange by a specific date) then this will form part of the Memorandum of Sale.

Mortgage Offer

A formal written offer made by a bank or building society to lend an approved amount to purchase a property.


Independent professional bodies who investigate complaints on behalf of customers against estate agents, solicitors and insurance companies.

Property Information Form/Fixtures, Fittings and Contents Form

Standard forms about the property that the developer answers for their solicitor (for example: what will be left behind, details of guarantees, etc.)

Repayment Mortgage

Your monthly repayment includes part interest and part capital repayment. So long as you meet all of the payments required by the lender on time, your mortgage will gradually reduce until it is repaid in full at the end of the mortgage term.

Requisition on Title

An enquiry relating to the completion agreements.

Reservation Deposit/Reservation Fee

Deposit paid when reserving your property off-plan.


Checks of local authorities and utility provider records for planning applications, restrictions and issues. Click here to find our more.

Seller’s (Developer’s) Pack

This comprises a Property Information Form, a Fixtures, Fittings and Contents Form, a copy of the title deeds and the draft contract.

Stamp Duty

A tax, paid by the buyer, that is calculated on the percentage rate applicable to each portion of the sale price.

2021 For current SDLT rate click here

The current rates of duty are as follows:

tbc% – up to £125,000

tbc% – on the share from £125,001 up to £250,000

tbc% – on the share from £250,001 up to £925,000

tbc% – on the share from £925,001 up to £1,500,000

tbc% – on the share £1,500,001 and over 

If you own another property anywhere else in the world and decide to purchase an additional property in England, Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland, you will need to pay an additional 3% stamp duty surcharge.

Click here for our handy Stamp Duty calculator. 

Subject to Contract

Words used to indicate that an agreement is not yet legally binding.


An inspection made by a qualified surveyor. There are three main types of survey: Valuation Report (for mortgage purposes), Homebuyers Report (also comments on general condition) and Full Structural Survey (examines structural detail). The two latter surveys are not necessarily required on new build properties. These are carried out at the buyer’s discretion.

Title Deeds

Legal documents that prove ownership of land/buildings, and the terms on which they are owned.

Transfer of Title

The document that passes the ownership from the developer to the buyer.


The legal name sometimes used to describe the seller (developer) of the property.

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