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Jargon Buster

Whether you’re a first-time buyer, or you’re already on the property ladder, the language around the buying process can be complex.

Our jargon buster is here to explain some of the terms that are commonly used when buying a home.

If you still have questions after you’ve looked through, get in touch with our friendly team who will be happy to help.

New Homes Quality Board

The New Homes Quality Board (NHQB) is an independent not-for-profit body which developed a new framework to oversee reforms in the build quality of new homes and the customer service provided by developers.


A line of buyers and sellers who are linked. If the purchase of a new home relies on the sale or purchase of another, it can delay the buying and selling process.

If you’re a first-time buyer, you won’t have a property to sell. This makes the process easier, as you don’t need to wait for your home to sell before buying a new one.

Freehold vs leasehold

A ‘freehold’ home means you own the land your home is built on. If it’s ‘leasehold’ someone else owns the land, meaning you’ll have to pay ground rent every year. All Northstone homes are freehold, so you’ll own your home and the land it’s on when you complete.

Lifetime ISA (LISA)

A bank account that helps first-time buyers save for a deposit. Once your account is set up, you can pay in up to £4,000 each year, with the government adding 25% on top of your savings. This money can be used as a deposit on your first home. You can only take money from your LISA once it’s been open for a full year.

Help to Buy

A Government scheme to help first-time buyers get on the property ladder. Help to Buy means you can secure your home with just a 5% deposit. The government lends you a 20% equity loan, taking the full deposit amount to 25%. The loan is interest free for the first five years and must be paid back before you sell your home or your mortgage term ends.

Stamp Duty Land Tax

A tax to be paid on homes above £125,000. It ranges from 2% to 12%, depending on the house value. If you’re a first-time buyer, Stamp Duty doesn’t apply.



The loan borrowed from your bank to buy your home. Once a mortgage value has been agreed, you’ll pay your provider a set amount each month until it is fully paid off, or you sell your home.


A deposit is the first instalment you will pay towards you home, with a bank typically providing a mortgage to cover the remainder of the value of your home. Mortgages are available up to 95% loan-to-value, so you could secure a home with a 5% deposit.

Loan to Value (LTV)

The amount you can borrow from a mortgage lender against the value of your home. If your home is worth £200,000 and your mortgage is £180,000, the LTV is 90%, as the mortgage is worth 90% of your home.

Decision in Principle (DIP)

An agreement between you and your chosen mortgage lender that shows what they are willing to lend you based on your income and savings. This isn’t guaranteed, but it does show you what you can afford.


This is a guarantee we make to you about the standard and condition of your home. Northstone homes come with the NHBC’s Buildmark Policy, which gives you 10 years’ cover from the date you complete.


A legal process where the home ownership is transferred from the seller to the buyer. Your solicitor will review contracts and conduct searches to check the property and the land, making sure everything is as it should be. This process starts when you reserve your home and ends once you complete.

Legal costs

Your solicitor can either charge a flat fee or a percentage of the value of the home. This will include the legal fees that your solicitor charges for doing the work, and disbursements which are the cost of third-party services, such as local authority searches.

According to the Homes Owners Alliance, legal costs can be between £850 and £1,500.

Local Authority Search

An essential stage of buying a home. This is part of the conveyancing process and will give you more information about the property and the local area.


Exchange of contracts

At this stage, you and the seller sign documents to agree the sale of the property, you will have paid your deposit, arranged your mortgage and the home is nearly yours.

Land Registry

Once the deposit has been paid and contracts have been exchanged, you will be added to the Land Registry. This is a Government database that tracks ownership details each time a property is sold.


Sometimes known as Title Deeds, these documents show the chain of ownership for your home and the land it stands on. Deeds are stored in HM Land Registry records.



An ombudsman is a person who has been appointed to look into complaints about companies and organisations. Ombudsman schemes are independent, free and impartial – so they don’t take sides.

Home demonstration

Once your home is nearly complete, we’ll walk you through it to make sure you know how to use everything, from our smart technology to high end appliances. This is your chance to ask any questions ahead of move in day.


The best part of the house buying process is completion day. All finances are settled, you pick up your keys and the home is officially yours!

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