A-Z Terms

Finding your way through the mortgage maze can be tricky with lots of words and phrases you may be unfamiliar with. To help you we’ve come up with explanations for the most commonly used terminology.



The money you borrow to buy your property.


Bank base rate (BBR)

This is the rate set by the Bank of England and used by most lenders on their tracker mortgages

Buy to let (BTL)

Currently not available through the West Brom, these are mortgages used to buy properties for renting purposes. They are very similar to residential mortgages but are normally assessed on how much you’ll earn from the rental income rather than your salary.



The amount of money you borrow and pay interest on. 


The point where you become the legal owner of your property and finally get the keys to your new home.


This is the document that you sign to become the legal owner of your new property. Once signed, you’ll then ‘Exchange Contracts’ with the person selling the house and you’ll be fully committed to buying the property.


The term used to describe the legal process of buying or selling a property. 

Conveyance fee 

The fee payable to a solicitor, or licensed conveyancer, to carry out the legal part of buying or selling a house.

Credit check

A search of your credit history, undertaken with your permission, to check your borrowing record. The check uses information held by a third party and helps the lender decide whether to lend you the money you need.


Decision in principle

A document given by a lender that gives an indication of whether they would be willing to give you a mortgage and how much for. Even if a Decision in Principle has been given you will still need to go through a full mortgage application, which could still be declined based on personal circumstance.


During the conveyancing process there are certain fees that are payable to a third party. These include Stamp Duty and Land Registry fees and will be paid through your solicitor or licensed conveyancer


Early repayment charge (ERC)

A fee that may be payable on your mortgage if you pay it off early. In some instances, it may still be payable even if you’re moving to another mortgage deal with the same lender so it’s always best to check. If an ERC applies it will clearly say so in all your documentation.


This is the difference between the value of your property and the amount of your mortgage. If the value of your property has fallen below the amount of your mortgage this is called ‘negative equity’.

Exchange of contracts

The point at which you become legally committed to buying the property


Full building survey

This is a thorough and complete inspection of the property carried out by a qualified surveyor. It is the most expensive type of report and often has to be requested by the person buying the house. However, if there’s a problem with your property it is most likely to be discovered by this type of survey.


This is when you own the property and the land it stands on.



This is a person who will guarantee that the payments will be made on someone else’s mortgage.


Higher lending charge (HLC)

This charge is sometimes made if you borrow over a certain LTV, usually 80% as this is seen as carrying a higher risk for the lender. The charge can sometimes be added to your mortgage loan, rather than paid up front, but it will incur interest if you choose this option.

Homebuyers report

Provides a more in depth report on the condition of the property. It does not detail every single aspect of the building but it does spotlight urgent matters that have a substantial effect on the value of the property that need attending to or further investigation. 



This is the money you’re charged, by the lender, for borrowing money. It’s payable on the full amount of your loan and the amount you pay back is determined by the interest rate and the length of your mortgage.


Land registry fee

When buying a house you need to register your new ownership of the property with the Land Registry. To do this they will charge a fee, which you’ll pay through your solicitor or licensed conveyancer.


There are situations where you own a property for a certain amount of time but not the land it stands on. This is known as leasehold.

Loan to value

This is the amount you want to borrow as a proportion of the value of the property you’re buying.

Legal fees

The charge made by solicitors and licensed conveyors to handle legal paperwork involved in selling and buying property.


Mortgage deed

The legal document that gives the lender the rights to your property.

Mortgage exit or sealing fee

A charge that is sometimes made at the end of your mortgage when the property is released to you.

Mortgage term

The length of time you have to pay back your mortgage.


Offer of advance

The formal offer from a lender to provide you with a mortgage.



When you pay your mortgage off in full.


The amount, usually monthly, that you have to pay back to the lender for the money you borrowed.

Repayment vehicle

Usually used for interest only mortgages, this is a source of funds that a borrower can use to repay their mortgage at the end of a set period.


Secured loan

When you take out a mortgage, your property is used as security for the loan. This means that if you don’t make your regular mortgage payments, the lender has the right to take possession of your property.

Standard or basic valuation

This is a basic report with a limited inspection and is a minimum requirement on most mortgages. If you are looking for a more detailed report, then you’ll need either a Homebuyers Report or a Full Buildings Survey.

Stamp duty

A tax that you pay when buying properties valued above a certain amount. There are a number of levels so please check with HMRC to see if your property is affected.


Title deed

This is the legal document that details who owns the property.