When you’re buying your first home, there’s a lot that can seem overwhelming, not to mention the various jargon you will come across as you proceed through the house-buying process. We’ve compiled a glossary of the most frequently-used terms and phrases to help you. If there’s anything else that you need help with, or clarification on, our friendly team is here to help – simply visit our Contact us page to get in touch with us.


This is the finalising of the sale of the property, when the money is sent over and you have legal ownership of your new home.


The contract is actually two identical legal document(s) agreeing to the sale of the property by Sanctuary and the purchase of the property by you. At the exchange of contracts, one is signed by the seller (Sanctuary) and the other by you, the purchaser. It is at this point of exchange that the contract becomes binding (i.e. irreversible) once both parties have signed their copies and you as the purchaser hand over the deposit for the property to your solicitor.


The process of the legal transfer of a property from one owner to another. So, when you are buying with Sanctuary, this is the transfer of one of our properties for sale to you, the new owner.


These are all the legal documents relating to the property.


The part payment of the purchase price of the property paid by you, the buyer, at the time of exchanging contracts (or conclusion of missives in Scotland). This will be agreed as part of your mortgage discussions with your chosen lender.

Discount Market Sale (DMS)

Discount Market Sale (DMS) is an affordable home buying option, allowing you to buy your new build home at a discounted price. This discount is usually around 20% (depending on the scheme) and is designed to help low and middle earners get onto the property ladder.

For more information on any of the above, please speak to one of our Sales Advisors. *Please note that DMS options are site and plot specific, with restrictions in some instances. Please contact one of our Sales Advisors for more information.

Disposition or Feu Disposition (Scotland only)

The legal document which transfers ownership of a property to you, the buyer.

Energy Performance Certificate

As a seller of properties in England, Sanctuary is required to provide a valid Energy Performance Certificate which gives a breakdown of the energy efficiency of the property. It is useful information as you can use this to see how this will affect the bills you can expect to pay for heating and lighting your new home.

Home Report (Scotland only)

This report is required as part of the selling process of any property in Scotland. Sanctuary will provide you with this pack, which includes a single survey, an energy report and a property questionnaire.

Land Registry Fees

Paid though your solicitor, these are the fees you pay in order to register your ownership of the property with the Land Registry. The scale of fees is fixed by the Government and will depend on the value of the property you are purchasing.

Local Authority Search

Carried out by your solicitor, this establishes if your new home is likely to be affected by any planning decisions. It can be useful in giving you a picture of your home and how it may be affected in the future.

Missives (Scotland only)

This is the name given to a contract in Scotland. At the time of exchange, they will be signed and submitted by you, the purchaser, and Sanctuary the seller. At the point of exchange, you are legally bound to complete the transaction and purchase the property.


Most people will need to take out a mortgage – or loan – to buy a home, whether that’s an apartment or a house. There are many different types of mortgages available, so it’s worthwhile consulting a mortgage advisor or discussing your options with your bank.

Mortgage Protection Policy or Mortgage Payment Protection Insurance

Often arranged or offered at the time you take out your mortgage, mortgage protection is insurance to cover the mortgage payments should you not be able to (for example in the event of ill-health or redundancy), or die before the end of the mortgage term. Usually, these policies are flexible and you can choose the level of cover you would like.

Mortgage Valuation Survey

Before they can make you a mortgage offer, your lender will conduct a survey, which values the property you are intending to purchase to see whether you are paying the right amount for it. You will pay a fee, which is dependent on the purchase price of the property.


NSSE stands for 'New Supply Shared Equity', which is part of the Scottish Government's low-cost initiative for first time buyers, aimed at helping people on low incomes to own their own home. 

Settlement (Scotland only)

This is the end of the house buying process, when the deeds of the new house and other documents are handed over by the seller to you the purchaser, in return for the agreed price.

Stamp Duty

This is the Government tax on the purchase price of a property, and applies in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. In Scotland, Land and Buildings Transaction Tax is paid instead. Your solicitor will automatically handle payment on your behalf and the amount you pay depends on the purchase price of your new home. More information on what you can expect to pay can be found on the GOV.uk website [link to: https://www.gov.uk/stamp-duty-land-tax/residential-property-rates]

Sold subject to contract

Sold 'Subject to Contract' (STC) means that Sanctuary, the seller and you, the buyer, are proceeding with the sale but the paperwork is not yet complete. At this point, there is no legally-binding agreement of the transaction.

Title Deeds

The legal documents describing the rights and liabilities that attach to the property and prove ownership of property. Your solicitor will obtain these for you as part of the conveyancing process.


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