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Selling real estate glossary 

Selling real estate glossary 

By Sarah Lefebvre on Nov 01 2018


You've probably heard most of these phrases...but just in case you don't know what they all mean, here' s our glossary on the key terms you may hear when selling your property.

Agency agreement 

A legally binding contract 

Appreciation

An increase in the value of a property 

Asking Price 

This is the listed price of the property.  This is the price they you are asking for.

Assessed Value

The valuation placed on a property for the purposes of taxation by an authority.

Auction

The public sale of the property (i.e. real estate) to the highest bidder.

Body corporate

An administrative body made up of all the owners with a group of units or apartments of a strata building.

Bank valuation 

A bank’s estimate of a property’s value.  This is often more conservative than the actual market value. 

Bridging finance

A short term loan used to allow a buyer to purchase a new property if the proceeds of a property he or she recently sold have not cleared.

Buyer’s market

When the demand for property is less than supply so the advantage shifts to the buyer.

Capital gains tax

This is a tax levied on profit from the sale of an investment property (not a family home). 

Certificate of title

A description of a property with the name of the registered owner.  

Clear title 

Ownership claim to an asset or property that is free of all encumbrances such as known claims, creditors and poses no question as to legal ownership.

Commission

A proportion (usually a percentage) of the sale price of a property paid to a real estate agent for negotiating a real estate transaction.

Contract of sale 

An agreement in writing setting out the terms and conditions relating to the sale or purchase of a property. It is the purchase document signed at auction.

Cooling off period

The legal entitlement of a property purchaser to withdraw from a contract by giving written notice within a specific period of time after the Contract of Sale or Contract Note is signed. There are some circumstances where the cooling-off period does not apply such as buying at auction.

Covenant

Terms, conditions and restrictions noted on the title. A covenant may affect future plans or resale of the property.

Cover note 

A document issued by an insurance company giving temporary insurance until a formal policy is issued.

Deed 

A legal document conveying title to a property.

Default

Failure to meet an obligation when due. 

Deposit

A percentage of the purchase price given to bind the sale of real estate.

Depreciation

A reduction in the value of property due to changes in market conditions or other causes.

Easement 

A right that someone has to use the land belonging to another, e.g. a water authority may have a sewerage easement across part of your property.

Encroachment 

A structure which extends in whole or in part over a neighbour’s property, e.g. a fence

Encumbrance

Any obstruction or obstacle related to the use or transfer of land including things such as easements, mortgages, caveats and leases which are usually registered on the title.

Equity

The value an owner of a property has in the asset above the debt owed.

Exchange of contracts 

The legal process that creates a binding agreement for the sale of a property.  A deposit is usually paid. 

Exclusive authority

A written contract that gives one real estate agent the exclusive right to sell a property in a specified time period.

Executor 

A person named in a will to administer an estate.

Fittings

Items not usually included in a property sale that can be removed without damaging the property and such as light fittings, washing machine, dishwasher etc

Foreclosure 

The legal process by which a borrower in default under a mortgage is deprived of his or her interest in the mortgaged property. This usually results in the mortgagee selling the property by auction and the proceeds being used to service the mortgage debt.

Guarantor

Someone who agrees to fulfil a contract if the main party to the loan defaults

Listing 

1. A written contract between an owner and a real estate agent, authorising the agent to perform services for the principal involving the owner’s property.
2. The property so listed.

Market value 

The price at which a seller is happy to sell and a buyer is willing to buy. Establishing the market value is the objective of an appraisal

Mortgage

A legal document that pledges a property to the lender as security for payment of a debt

Off the plan

To purchase a property before it is completed after having only seen the plans.

Open listing 

A type of listing agreement in which more than one real estate agent may be employed to sell the property. The owner pays a commission only to the agent who finds the buyer.

Passed in 

The highest bid fails to meet the reserve price of a property at an auction and consequently does not sell.

Pre-qualification

The process of determining how much money a prospective home buyer will be eligible to borrow before he or she applies for a loan.

Private sale 

The sale of a property by the owner without the services of a real
estate agent.

Private treaty sale 

The sale of property, through an estate agent, by negotiation.

Purchaser

The purchaser is the buyer

Qualified acceptance 

An acceptance of an offer subject to a condition or conditions which must be met. This is essentially a counteroffer since new conditions are included.

Qualified buyer

A buyer who has satisfied a lender that he or she is financially able to qualify for a loan. Qualifying the buyer is one of the primary steps taken by the lender as part of the loan process.

Real estate agent 

A person licensed to negotiate and transact the sale or lease of real estate on behalf of the property owner.

Requisitions on title 

A process where the buyer requests additional information about the title of the property from the vendor.

Reserve Price

The minimum price a seller will accept at auction.

Right of first refusal 

A provision in an agreement that gives a party the first opportunity to purchase or lease the property before it is offered for sale or lease to others.

Seller’s market

When demand for property is greater than supply. The result is greater opportunities for owners who may find someone willing to offer the asking price or even a figure greater than the asking price.  Contrast with Buyer’s Market.

Settlement date

The sale of a property is finalised by the legal representatives of the vendor and the purchaser, mortgage documents come into effect, costs are paid and the new owner takes possession of the property.

Stamp duty 

A state tax on conveyance or transfer of real property calculated on the total value of the property (including chattels). This calculation varies from State to State.

Strata title

A title to a unit or lot on a plan of subdivision associated with townhouses, units and blocks of flats and based on the horizontal and vertical subdivision of air space. Owners have a certificate of title, are absolute owners of a freehold flat and have an undivided share of the common property.

Tenancy

The right to occupy a property under agreed terms and conditions.

Title search 

A check of the title records to ensure that the seller is the legal owner of the property and that there are no other claims or claims outstanding.

Valuation 

A written analysis of the estimated value of a property prepared by a qualified valuer.

Vendor

The seller.

Zoning 

An urban planning tool used by local governments to determine how land is to be used. 
 

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