Apartment/Unit – An apartment (or flat) is a self-contained housing unit that occupies only part of a building.

Auction – A public sale of a property or real estate that is sold to the highest bidder.

Body Corporate – An company made up of all the owners of the units in a strata building.

Buyer’s agent – A licensed person who signs an agreement with a buyer to become the buyer’s representative in searching and negotiating for property in return for a fee.

Caveat – A warning on a Certificate Title that a third party might have some interest or right in the property.

Commerical property – Property used predominantly for commercial, retail or industrial purposes.

Construction Loan (Building Loan) – A loan for financing the cost of construction. The lender makes payments to the builder at intervals as construction work progresses.

Contract of Sale (Contract) – A written agreement setting out the terms and conditions on which the seller and purchaser enter into for the sale and purchase of a property.

Cooling-off Period – The legal right of a buyer to withdraw from a contract for purchase of residential property by giving written notice within a certain number of business days (5 business days in NSW) after exchange. A cooling-off period does not apply if:

• The property is purchased at an auction or on the same day as an auction.

• The purchaser receives independent legal advice prior to the purchase of the property
and waives its cooling off rights.

Covenant – A right or obligation affecting a property and noted on the title of that property for the benefit of some party eg a property might be affected by a covenant restricting the property owner from constructing a dwelling of more than one storey in height.

Deposit – A deposit is normally paid by the buyer at the time of exchanging contracts or on “fall of the hammer” at auction. It is normally 10% of the purchase price.

Deposit Bond – A written undertaking by a company to be answerable for payment of a deposit on the purchase of a property in the event of non performance by the buyer.

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Easement – A right granted to a person to use the land belonging to another, e.g. a neighbour may have an easement to drain water across an adjoining property.

Exchange – The Contract of Sale is prepared in duplicate, usually by the seller’s solicitor or conveyancer. The original is signed by the seller and a copy is signed by the buyer. The signed contracts are then exchanged and the buyer and seller each receive a copy signed by the other.

First Home Buyers Grant – An incentive from the Federal Government giving $7000.00 to first home buyers as a one off payment.

First Home Plus – An incentive from the NSW Government giving first home buyers a discount off stamp duty payable on transfers and loans. The benefit only applies the value of the property being purchased is less than $600,000.00.

Freehold – A property where you own both the property and the land on which it is built.

Home Loan – The funds a buyer has to borrow (usually from a bank or other financial institution) to purchase a property, generally secured by a registered mortgage to the bank over the property being purchased.

Loan – The funds a buyer has to borrow (usually from a bank or other financial institution) to purchase a property, generally secured by a registered mortgage to the bank over the property being purchased.

Loan documents – the documents the lender requires a borrower to sign before the lender will advance loan monies to the borrower.

Mortgage – A security taken by a lender over the property of the person the lender is lending money to. The effect of a mortgage is that the borrower cannot sell the property without repaying the loan and if the borrower fails to repay the loan the lender (mortgagee) can sell the borrower’s property.

Mortgage Broker – An individual or company that obtains loans for others by finding lending institutions to lend the money.

Mortgage documents – the documents the lender requires a borrower to sign before the lender will advance loan monies to the borrower.

Off the Plan – Buying a property, usually an apartment, from seeing plans, before it is even built.

Open house – A real estate practice of showing property which is for sale to the public during established hours.

Pest & Building Reports – These reports are usually obtained by buyers prior to exchange. A building report is a report by a licensed builder inspector detailing the condition of the building being purchased.A pest report is a report by a licensed pest inspector detailing whether building is adversely affected by pests such as termites and borers.

Pre-approval – An approval for a home loan credit issued by a lender before the borrower has selected a property. Usually issued for a stated maximum loan amount and conditional on a valuation being obtained for the property.

Pre purchase inspections – the qualified inspections undertaken by buyers of properties prior to exchange or during the cooling off period. Typical pre purchase inspections include pest reports, building reports and strata reports for strata title properties.

Real estate agent – A person licensed to negotiate and sell property on behalf of the property owner.

Redraw – Accessing extra payments which may have been paid into a home loan.

Refinance – The process of paying off a loan with the proceeds from a new loan using the same property as security.

Reverse Mortgage (seniors loan) – A loan that provides seniors with funds from the equity in their homes. Generally, no payments are made until the borrower moves, the property is sold or the borrower dies.

Rural land – Land used for farming.

Settlement – The event at which the purchase of a property is finalised by the legal representatives of the vendor and the purchaser. Title documents are delivered to the purchaser’s solicitor in exchange for the balance of the purchase monies. At the same time mortgage documents come into effect, costs are paid and the new owner takes possession of the property.

Sewer diagram – a diagram issued by the local water authority disclosing the location of the main sewer line in relation to a property.

Stamp Duty – A state tax on conveyance or transfer of real property calculated on the total value of the property.

Statutory searches – the searches required by law to be contained in a contract for sale of residential property. The searches include title search, zoning certificate and sewer diagram.

Strata search – These reports are usually obtained by buyers prior to exchange where buying a strata title property. The report covers issues such as the history of the building, all recent repairs undertaken, any disputes or areas under investigation, monies in the bank to cover repairs and maintenance and the likelihood of any special levies, insurances and by-laws.

Strata title – A form of title used for units and townhouses. It gives the owner membership of an Owners’ Corporation, and the ownership of a defined part of a building. Strata titles are registered under the Torrens Title system

Title deed – A legal document registered at and issued by the LPI as proof of ownership of property.

Title documents – The set of legal documents (including a title deed) which evidence legal ownership of a property.

Title search – A title search details the names of the owners of a property and other information such as encumbrances, covenants and caveats.

Torrens Title – A system of recording property ownership where registration on the Certificate of Title guarantees ownership.

Townhouse – A housing unit, with two or more floors and attached to other similar units via common party walls.

Transfer (Transferring) – moving interests in a property between people. It may involve adding or removing one or more person’s name from a property.

Vacant Land – Vacant land on which a dwelling has not been constructed.

Valuation – An assessment of the value of a property given in a written report by a registered valuer.

Valuer – a licenced person who determines the value of a property using established valuation methodology.

Vendor – The seller.

Zoning Certificate – a certificate issued by a local council disclosing the nature of the zoning of a property and any adverse affectations recorded in the Council’s records with respect to the property.