Jargon buster



The amount of your mortgage.


An abbreviation for Annual Percentage Rate.

Arrangement Fee

The charge that may be made to cover the cost of providing a mortgage (not all of our mortgage products have an Arrangement Fee). This fee is normally charged to your mortgage account on completion.

Asking price

The price the seller is asking for the property.


Payment protection insurance. This covers mortgage payments when earnings are lost through accident, sickness or unemployment.


Base Rate

The rate of interest set by the Bank of England.

Buildings Insurance

Insurance against the cost of repairing damage to property caused by events such as fire, storm or flood, or even rebuilding a property from scratch following major structural damage. All mortgage lenders require you have adequate buildings insurance, in order to safeguard the money they are lending. All Insurance companies will have an excess payable in the event of a claim.

Buy-to-let Mortgage

A mortgage for a property that is, or will be, let to tenants. This is semi-commercial lending, reflected in the higher set-up costs and marginally less attractive rates available. Income multiples are of secondary importance with this type of lending; mortgage lenders are more concerned with the relationship between rental income and mortgage payments.

Buyers Protection Policy

Protects against loss of fees/survey.



Legal documents signifying the owner’s legal entitlement to the property.


The amount of money the buyer must pay when the contracts are exchanged. The amount that is required varies dependent on the specific product terms and conditions, however as a guideline the minimum you should have is 5% of the purchase price.

Discounted Rate

You pay a discount off the Standard Variable rate for an agreed period. Monthly repayments could increase or decrease depending on the Standard Variable or Flexible Mortgage rates at the time.


Early Repayment/Redemption Charge

Remortgage within an agreed period (usually linked to the period the interest rate is discounted, capped or fixed) and the penalty fee (ERC) charged if you pay your mortgage off during the period of the deal.This fee doesn’t apply to all of our mortgages.

Endowment Mortgage

With an endowment mortgage you take out an assurance policy designed to repay the mortgage either on death or at some other time in the future. In the meantime only the interest portion of the mortgage is paid until the policy matures.

The value of the policy is not guaranteed on maturity and may not provide enough capital to repay your mortgage. Not usually offered these days.

Employment Status

A term used by lenders to describe potential borrowers’ working arrangements. Self-employed applicants are sometimes seen as a greater risk than employees are. But many specialist lenders and mortgages have emerged in recent years designed specially for different types of employment status, and the Charcolonline website has a wide variety of these in its database.


The difference between the value of the property and the amount of any loans secured against it. If your house is worth £150K and you have a mortgage of £90K and no other secured loans, you have £60K equity.

Exchange of contracts

Where both the buyer and the seller become legally bound to the transaction.


Fixed Rate

You pay a fixed rate of interest over an agreed period, allowing you to budget more easily.

Fixtures and Fittings

All items in the house that are not part of the actual building but may be included in the sale (eg. cooker, dishwasher, washing machine, light fittings, etc).

Flexible Mortgage

You can pay more than your regular payment each month, helping you pay your mortgage off early and potentially saving thousands of pounds in interest. Interest is calculated daily on flexible mortgages and often includes other features such as short payment breaks.


Ownership of property and the land it stands on.(see Leasehold).



When your offer on a property has been accepted then another buyer puts in a higher bid and your offer is then rejected by the seller.


Before tax.

Ground Rent

Annual rent (usually low) paid on a leasehold property.


Higher Lending Charge

A charge made when you take out a high Loan to Value (LTV)
mortgage that protects the lender against defaults on such loans.

Homebuyer’s report

A more detailed inspection than the standard valuation.
It lists only faults that are obvious to the valuer. It is not a full structural survey.


Impaired Credit

Impaired credit mortgages are specialist loans for customers whose credit problems disqualify them from using mainstream lenders’ standard products. Some lenders specialise in loans like these, which are also known as adverse credit loans.

Income multiples

This is the formula we use to decide how much lenders can lend you. Following the Mortgage Market Review, other financial information must also be considered.

Income protection

Insurance designed to pay your mortgage if you are unable to earn an income on a monthly basis due to sickness or job loss.

Interest Only Mortgage

You pay just the interest on the loan each month. Interest only mortgages are normally arranged with a savings vehicle (eg. ISA ) intended to pay off the loan at the end of its term for buy-to-lets. The value of the policy/ investment is not guaranteed on maturity and may not provide enough capital to repay your mortgage.

Interest calculation

The frequency with which mortgage lenders calculate the outstanding balance on mortgages – annually, monthly or daily – is an important consideration if you have a repayment mortgage. The annual calculation systems of traditional mortgages mean that you are paying interest on capital repayments already made during the course of that calendar year. The daily or monthly interest calculations used with flexible mortgages enable payments (and overpayments) to have a quicker impact on the outstanding balance. Other things being equal, daily or monthly as opposed to annual calculation saves borrowers money.

ISA- Individual Savings Account

An ISA is an Individual Savings Account – it allows you to save or invest money in a tax-efficient way. An ISA (individual savings account) is a tax-free savings or investment account that allows you to put your ISA allowance to work and maximize the potential returns you make on your money, by shielding it from income tax, tax on dividends and capital gains tax. You need to bear in mind,  that tax rules can change in future and that their effects on you will depend on your individual circumstances. There are 4 main types of ISAS: Cash ISAS, Investment ISAS, and Lifetime ISA.


Land Registry Fee

A fee paid to register ownership of a property.


Property ownership where the property is leased by the owner to a leaseholder or tenant for a fixed number of years.

Letting your property

Will be in contravention of your mortgage deed unless it is a buy-to-let mortgage.

Lease Lenders have different mortgage schemes for residential and let properties. If you intend to let your property you should let your lender know.


The person who grants a lease.

Life assurance

A policy payable upon the death of a specified person.

Local authority search

Your solicitor will check with the local authority for anything proposed that could affect your potential property. For example, road improvements or planning permission.

Loan to Value (LTV)

A percentage figure indicating the size of the mortgage on a property in relation to its value. Thus, a house worth £120K with a mortgage of £60K would have a loan to value of 50%. Better mortgage deals are available for lower loan to values – 75% and below. At higher loan to values – usually from 90% to 95% – you are likely to find yourself paying a higher lending charge.


Monthly repayment

The amount you pay to your lender each month.

Mortgage agreement

A document that shows the seller that you can afford to buy in principle (AIP- agreement in principle) the property.


A loan made against the security of a property.

Mortgage protection

Any form of protecting the debt – critical illness cover, accident, sickness and unemployment, etc.


A Bank, Building Society or other lender who lends the money for the mortgage.


The person who borrows money and whose property secures the loan.

Mortgage Payment Protection Insurance

Policies that ensure mortgage payments are met for a given period (usually 12 months) if you are unable to work because you become sick, have an accident or are made redundant.

Support for Mortgage Interest (ISMI)has been subject to cutbacks, but homeowners can protect their homes with this type of cover.

Mortgage payment protection insurance is also known as accident, sickness and unemployment (ASU) cover. (Confusingly, some types of life assurance taken in conjunction with a mortgage may be called mortgage protection policies.).


Permanent Health insurance (PHI)

A form of cover that pays the policyholder an income for a specified time (usually after a preliminary deferment period) in the event of prolonged illness resulting in loss of earnings.


A portable mortgage is one that can be transferred without penalty if you move house during a rate-control period. If you increase your mortgage the rate available for additional borrowing depends on what schemes the lender is prepared to offer you. If you reduce your mortgage, a pro-rata early repayment charge may apply. Most mortgages nowadays are portable.


In the context of insurance, a premium is the regular sum you pay to keep your cover in force.


The amount of the mortgage on which interest is calculated.

Procurement Fee

The total amount paid by the mortgage lender to a mortgage adviser/ intermediary, whether directly or indirectly, in connection with providing applications from customers to enter into regulated mortgage contracts with the mortgage lender.



Qualification for government help with paying mortgage interest is means-tested and quite restricted. If you are anxious about being able to maintain payments in the event of redundancy or long-term illness, you should consider taking out mortgage payment protection insurance.


The process of switching your mortgage loan from one lender to another without moving house.


Payment of a mortgage loan in full or part.

Repayment Mortgage

You repay part of the capital and the interest on your mortgage each month. Under this option, if all repayments are made, your mortgage will be repaid in full at the end of the agreed term.

Repayment Vehicle

The means by which a mortgage loan’s capital is repaid. Examples include endowment policies, ISAs, and personal pensions.



A legal investigation to establish what if any calls on the ownership of the property exist and to determine if it is affected by planning applications etc. Main types of search are Land Authority search and Land registry search.

Secured (loan)

If you should default on your mortgage, the lender can ultimately repossess your property to recover their money. The loan is hence said to be “secured” on the property.
Split loan

A mortgage that has some of the loan set up on an interest-only basis and some on a repayment basis.

Stamp Duty

This is a land tax payable when purchasing a property or land in the UK and a government tax based on the property purchase price.


A shorthand term for the borrower’s credit record and employment situation.

Structural Survey

A detailed inspection of a property to check that it is structurally sound.

Subject to Contract

Occurs when the sale of the property has been provisionally agreed. It allows the buyer or the seller to withdraw without incurring any penalty.


The process of cashing in an unwanted endowment policy with the insurer who sold it to you. Doing this often produces a poor return for the money invested to date in the policy’s early years.


Standard Variable Rate, the interest rate at which a lender’s standard mortgages are set.



The period of time (years) over which a mortgage will run. Typically 25 Years or to expected retirement date if that comes first.


The ownership of the property.


Follows but usually exceeds the Bank of England Base Rate for an agreed period, by a pre-arranged amount. This means your monthly payment will automatically change in line with any adjustments made to the Base Rate, so this is a form of variable rate.


A deed which transfers ownership of a property.


Under offer

The term used when the seller of a property has provisionally (‘subject to contract’) accepted a buyer’s offer.


A mortgage repayment smaller than the regular agreed sum. Some flexible mortgages have this feature, which can be useful for people with irregular income.



Inspection of property which establishes its market value and security for a mortgage. There are three levels of valuation/survey:

Basic Valuation

These are carried out purely on behalf of the mortgage lender even though you may have to pay for it. Most lenders charge valuation fees on a scale depending on the value of properties. The report is basic, and all lenders disclaim any responsibility for the condition of the property. You have no comeback against the surveyor for any defects or problems overlooked in the report.

Homebuyers’ report – a more detailed but still limited report to a set format on the readily accessible parts of the property. It may offer you some limited recourse should the surveyor, who is acting on your behalf rather than the lender’s, be negligent.

Full structural survey – the most thorough (and most expensive) report. If the property is defective, the surveyor should discover this. If major defects are not discovered then the surveyor acting for you would have some legal liability, and you would be able to claim redress.

With any level of survey, if there are potential or actual defects found the surveyor may suggest you obtain additional specialist reports, which could be at your expense and may be time-consuming. If you opt for a homebuyers’ report or full structural survey, you will sign a contract with the surveyor to formalise his responsibilities to you.

Applicants should always check with mortgage lenders before instructing their own valuation or survey. Lenders tend to work with panels of surveyors, and if your surveyor is not known to your lender you may find yourself paying again for a valuation by one who is known.

Variable Rate

The interest rate paid on the mortgage is linked to the lender’s Standard Variable Rate.


The person selling the property.