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The language of home buying

The home buying, construction and legal purchase process can contain much technical and industry-specific jargon and language. If you are a first-time buyer, or simply not familiar with some of those terms we have compiled and explained a list of key words and phrases that may help you.

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An affordability check is carried out to ensure you can afford your new home and to agree the percentage share you are able to purchase

An adoptable area is one that is maintained at public expense, usually by an agency such as the local council or highway authority, though they do not own the land. Unadopted areas are any private locations that are in private hands and are maintained by an agency that is not council-run.

Affordable housing covers any new properties built with a subsidy, either from the government or a housing association, to bring them within the budget of most households. These can then be secured either for rent, Shared Ownership or outright sale.

An application form that is completed to ascertain eligibility to purchase a property using a Shared Ownership scheme.

This is a letter from the Help to Buy agent confirming that you're eligible for Help to Buy and can proceed with the purchase of the property. Within the letter will be a full financial breakdown of any of the terms of sale.

Once your ATP has been issued together with the Mortgage Offer, your Conveyancing Solicitor will request the Authority to Exchange from the relevant 'Help to Buy Administrator'. Your Solicitor will be unable to exchange contracts unless Help to Buy have authorised the exchange.


Construction of your new home is now finished, and once inspections are undertaken you will be notified of a legal completion date

Buildings insurance is an insurance policy that covers the financial cost of repairing damage to the physical structure of a property in the event of damage or theft. This includes the roof, floors and walls, as well as any fitted or permanent fixtures (i.e. a fitted kitchen). The cause of the damage is important.


The legally binding document drawn up by solicitors that details a property sale and lays out all the agreed terms and conditions to which both parties must agree, sign and date. Once the contract is signed, exchanged and a deposit paid, the sale becomes legally binding

The legal process of buying and selling a property.

An appointment arranged during the Home Demonstration for a time a few days after you have moved in. At this visit the site manager will attend your home and discuss any minor ‘snags’ that you have identified, those covered under your warranty are usually fixed within the next 28 days

Before completion your solicitor will apply for a Confirmation to Provider (CTD) which is confirmation to your Help to Buy agent that the matter is ready for completion and that no information has changed from when the ATE was requested/issued


Expenses incurred by your solicitor when paying for local searches, stamp duty, land registry fees and other associated legal costs.

Legal papers relating to a property which transfer legal ownership to you.

The amount you put down (usually 10%) of the purchase price of the property, and is required upon exchange of contracts.

Prior to the contract being signed, a draft contract is prepared by the seller’s solicitor and passed to the purchaser’s solicitor. Once the contract has reached its final form it is know as an ‘engrossment’ and is ready for both parties to sign.


See ‘draft contract’

This is when exchange of contracts takes place between your solicitor and our solicitors and a deposit is paid to us for your new home. This is when the sale become legally binding.


Items permanently installed in a building and included in the purchase price.


This is when you are presented with the keys to your new home. This generally occurs on the day of legal completion.

A practical demonstration in your new home that takes place before legal completion. The demonstration shows you how appliances and systems in your new home work.


A lease is a legal document between you and Orbit Homes which proves that you own part of your home and will set out certain conditions such as – your rights and responsibilities as a homeowner, how often rent and service charges are reviewed, what you should expect from us as landlords.

This is the day on which the balance of the purchase money for your new home is paid. It is the day you become the legal owner of your new home and is also referred to as the ‘moving in’ or ‘handover’ day.


A management fee is part of the service charge payable to the landlord or manager in return for managing the leasehold property..

A loan secured on your home.

The finance, usually a long-term loan, from your mortgage provider, used to help purchase your home.

The formal request for a mortgage.

The formal documentation that confirms the mortgage provider’s financial interest in your new home.

A formal written offer of a mortgage made to you by your mortgage provider

A bank, building society or other financial institution offering home loans.


The National House Building Council – the independent regulator of the new homes industry. A non-profit-making independent body which lays down standards for house builders that are registered with it.

A 10-year warranty for the National House Building Council covering your new home against specified risks


When a customer pays a deposit and signs an Orbit Homes reservation form, the property is reserved at the agreed price for a specific time providing exchange of contracts takes place on an agreed date.

The deposit that is paid to secure your home (usually between £250 and £500).

A title of ownership registered at the land registry guaranteeing ownership.

A subsidised monthly rent is paid on the share of the property you don’t own. The larger the share amount you own the less your rent will be .

The seller of the property imposes a restriction on a particular use of the land.


A legal agreement made under the Water Act in which a developer secures the adoption of sewers by a water authority.

A legal agreement under the highways act which a developer secures the adoption of roads and footpaths by the local highway authority.

A legal agreement under the provisions of the town and country planning act 1990, usually made between the housebuilder and the local authority, in which the housebuilder makes financial contributions for local infrastructure to help sustain the local community in which it is building. This could include providing affordable housing or public open space.

An annual charge for the maintenance of communal facilities such as parking areas gardens and communal areas within apartment buildings this fee is normally paid to a management company.

Shared Ownership provides an affordable way to buy your new Orbit Home, you purchase a share and pay a subsidised rent on the part you don’t own. In the future, if you wish, you can usually buy further shares until you own your home outright.

The amount you buy usually between 25% and 75% of the full purchase price determined on your financial assessment, this is the amount you own of the property.

This is a government tax paid by the purchaser on completion of the purchase.

This is when a sale is verbally agreed only but no contract has been signed so there is no legally binding agreement once contracts are signed and exchanged all the terms and conditions become legally binding for both the purchaser and the seller.

Your sales consultant is your main point of contact throughout the purchase process they will discuss with you every aspect of the purchase and will support you until you have moved into your new home.

Enquiries made by your solicitor in the early stage of the contract drafting. The enquiries are made of the district, or Borough Council to identify any issues that may affect your property. This could include proposals to build a factory or a road nearby, or historic rights such as coal mining or access over commons.

Our build representative who supervises to building the development during the purchase process your sales consultant will introduce you.

A qualified lawyer professional who is your personal legal representative and will act on your behalf and to protect your interest during the home buying process.


The formal document that actually transfers legal title in your new home to you. the title of the property is recorded at the land registry.


A professional opinion based on experiences and knowledge of the housing market at a given time on the value of the property.

The seller of the property.