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Real estate terms

Real Estate terms and conditions

What the terms mean?

Asking price: The listed price of the property. The owner may be willing to negotiate so this may not be the selling price.

Auction: The process by which real estate that is sold to the highest bidder.

Bridging loan/bridging finance: A short-term loan used to cover the financial gap between buying and selling.

Building inspection: A thorough inspection by a licensed builder that evaluates the structural and mechanical condition of a property undertaken at the buyer's expense.

Buyer's market: When the demand for property is less than the supply of property the advantage shifts to the buyer.


Certificate of title: A description of a property that includes the name of the registered owner and any encumbrances such as mortgages and easements. This will be included in the contract of sale prepared by the vendor's solicitor.

Commission: A proportion of the sale price (generally a percentage) of a property paid to real estate agent for negotiating the sale.

Company title: A method of obtaining ownership of real estate (usually apartments and units) by way of company shares (which preceded strata title acts in many states). Under company title, land and buildings are owned by a private company. The company's shareholding structure is organised so that ownership of a certain number of shares entitles the shareholder to exclusive possession of a part of the building.

Contract of sale: An agreement in writing that details the terms and conditions in regards to the sale/purchase of a property.

Conveyancing: Traditional term for the legal work involved in the purchase and sale of a property.


Deeds:Legal title documents proving ownership. The deeds will be held by the mortgage lender.

Deposit: A percentage of the purchase price given at the time of exchange or winning bid at auction to bind the sale. It's usually around 10 percent of the purchase price.

Easement:A right that someone has to use the land that belongs to another. An example is a water authority having a sewerage easement.

Exchange of contracts: The point at which signed contracts are physically exchanged, legally committing the buyer and the seller to the purchase and sale of a property at an agreed price.

Fittings: Objects that can be removed from a property without causing damage.


Fixtures: Items such as built-in cupboards, stoves, dishwashers, etc, which are fixed to the property and cannot be removed without causing damage.

Gazumping: This occurs when a seller accepts a buyer's offer and verbally agrees to sell the property to that buyer but later sells the property to another buyer offering a higher price.

Joint tenants: A form of co-ownership that gives each tenant equal shares in the property.

Listing: A written contract between an owner and a real estate agent, authorising the agent to perform services for the sale of the owner's property.

Local authority search: Procedure whereby a buyer's solicitor makes an enquiry to the local council regarding any outstanding enforcement or future development issues which might affect the property or immediate area.


Market value: The price at which a seller is happy to sell and a buyer is willing to buy.

Off the plan: When you buy off the plan, you are buying a property before it is built, having only seen the plans. This is commonly used for apartments or units under construction or soon to be built.

Open listing: A type of listing agreement in which more than one real estate agent may be employed to sell the property.

Owners corporation: The administrative body made of the owners of a group of units or apartments of a strata building.

Passed in: When the highest bid at an auction doesn't meet the reserve price set on the property. In effect, the property doesn't sell at the auction.


Private treaty: A sale of a property at an advertised price that can be negotiated.

Reserve price: The minimum price which a seller will accept at auction.

Semi-detached: A property which is joined to another house.

Settlement: The sale of a property is finalised by the legal representatives of the vendor and the purchaser and the new owner takes possession of the property.

Stamp duty: A state tax on conveyance or transfer of property calculated on the total value of the property.


Strata title: The most common title associated with townhouses and apartments. Individuals each own a portion of the title, known as a "lot" and share common property.

Studio: A flat consisting of one main room or open-plan living area incorporating cooking and sleeping facilities and a separate bathroom/shower room.

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

Vendor: The seller.

Zoning: Local authority guidelines for the permitted use of the land