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Consent by the person receiving the offer to be bound by the terms and conditions of the person making the offer. Acceptance of an offer constitutes an agreement.


A second building on a lot and one that is not considered to be the primary building, e.g. a storage shed or a parking space. Usually described as ‘Accessory Building’ or ‘Accessory Unit’.

Act of God

Any act of nature such as rain, lightning, floods or earthquakes. Many insurance policies do not cover losses resulting from an ‘Act of God’.


A person appointed by a probate court to administer the estate of a person who died intestate (without a will). ‘Administratrix’ is the feminine form.


To repay a mortgage with regular payments that cover both principal and interest.


An amount paid yearly or at regular intervals, often on a guaranteed dollar basis.


An increase in the value of a property due to changes in market conditions or supply and demand, etc.


A decorative moulding around doors or windows.

Assessed Value

The valuation placed on a property for the purposes of taxation by an authority.


Anything of monetary value that is owned by a person, e.g. personal property, bank accounts.


The transfer of a mortgage from one person to another.


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


Bank Accounts Debit Tax. State or Territory government tax (except ACT) on withdrawals from accounts on which a cheque can be drawn.

Balloon Payment

A large loan payment to clear a debt.


The person designated to receive the income from a trust, estate, or a deed of trust.

Body Corporate

An administrative body made up of all the owners within a group of units or apartments of a strata building. The owners elect a committee which handles administration and upkeep of the site.


A sum of money paid by a tenant and held by the Rental Bond Board to ensure against defaulting on payment and damage to the property.


The lines that define the perimeter of a property.

Bridging Loan

A short term loan (usually at a higher rate) taken out to cover the financial gap between buying a new property and selling an existing property.

Business Day

A standard day for conducting business. Excludes weekends and public holidays.

Buyer’s Market

When the demand for property is less than supply so the advantages shift to the buyer. Contrast with Seller’s Market.


  1. Money used to create income, either as an investment in a business or an income property.
  2. The money or property comprising the wealth owned or used by a person or business.
  3. The accumulated wealth of a person or business.
  4. The net worth of a business represented by the amount its assets exceed its liabilities.

Capital Expenditure

The cost of an improvement made to extend the useful life of a property or to add to its value.

Capital Gain

The gain on the sale of a capital asset.

Capital Improvement

Any structure or addition to a property erected as a permanent improvement that adds to its value and useful life.

Cash Flow

A measure of cash inflow and outflow from the business. Positive cash flow means more money is coming into the business than is leaving it. Negative cash flow is the converse.


A warning on a title to a purchaser that a third party might have some interest or right in the property.

Caveat Emptor

A Latin phrase for “Let the buyer beware”, i.e. the onus is on the buyer to be satisfied with any item before purchasing.

Certificate of Occupancy

A document issued by a local government to a developer permitting the structure to be occupied. This generally indicates that the building is in compliance with public health and building codes.

Certificate of Title

A description of a property with the name of the registered owner, encumbrances, i.e. mortgages or easements on the property. It must be produced by the vendor before the sale of the property.


Movable items of personal property such as furniture that may be included in a sale.

Clear Title

A title that is free of lien or legal questions as to ownership of the property.


A proportion (usually a percentage) of the sale price of a property paid to a real estate agent for negotiating a real estate transaction.

Common Law

An unwritten body of law based on general custom in England and used to an extent in Australia.

Common Law Title

See Old System Title.

Common Property

Areas of a building, land or amenities within a strata title property that are shared by all owners, e.g. a driveway.

Company Title

See Stratum Title.

Construction Loan

Also called Building Loan. A short-term, interim loan (only paid to registered builders) for financing the cost of construction. The lender makes payments to the builder at periodic intervals as work progresses.


See Special Condition.

Contract Note

(Victoria only) An agreement in writing setting out the terms and conditions relating to the sale or purchase of a property.

Contract of Sale

An agreement in writing setting out the terms and conditions relating to the sale or purchase of a property. It is the purchase document signed at auction.

Cooling-off Period

The legal entitlement of a property purchaser to withdraw from a contract by giving written notice within two clear business days after the Contract of Sale or Contract Note is signed and the appropriate forms have been served on the purchaser. However, there are some circumstances where the cooling-off period does not apply:

  • The property is purchased at an auction or within three clear business days of a publicly advertised auction.
  • The purchaser receives independent legal advice prior to the purchase of the property.
  • The purchaser is a corporate body.

Covenant Terms

Conditions and restrictions noted on the title. A covenant may affect future plans or resale of the property.

Cover Note

A document issued by an insurance company giving temporary insurance until a formal policy is issued.

Credit History

A record of an individual’s current and repaid debts which is usually used by a lender to assess the risk of a potential borrower.


A legal document conveying title to a property.


Failure to make mortgage payments regularly or to comply with other requirements of the mortgage.


A percentage of the purchase price given to bind the sale of real estate.


A decline in the value of property due to changes in market conditions or other causes.


A cash expenditure for the purpose of settling a debt.

Disposable Income

Money left over after all expenses have been met.


The disbursement of loan funds provided by the Bank.


A right that someone has to use the land belonging to another, e.g. a water authority may have a sewerage easement across part of your property.


Part of a house or establishment illegally overhanging the street or a neighbour’s property.


An impediment to the use or transfer of the property in the form of an interest or right in the property, e.g. easement, mortgage or caveat.


The difference between the market value of the property and the amount still owed on its mortgage.

Establishment Fee

See Loan Application Fee.


The total of all the real estate and personal property owned by an individual at the time of death.


The lawful expulsion of an occupant or tenant from real property.


Authority A written contract that gives one real estate agent the exclusive right to sell a property in a specified time period.


A person named in a will to administer an estate. ‘Executrix’ is the feminine form.

Fair Trading Office

Office of Fair Trading and Business Affairs, an office of the Department of Justice in Victoria and in New South Wales. In Queensland, Northern Territory and the Australian Capital Territory it is known as Consumer Affairs; in Western Australia, the Ministry of Fair Trade; in South Australia, the Consumer and Business Affairs, and in Tasmania as Consumer Affairs and Fair Trading.

Fee Simple

The greatest possible interest a person can have in real estate. Contrast with Strata Title and Stratum Title.


Financial Institutions Duty. State duty on the receipts of financial institutions.


A person who essentially holds the character of a trustee. Real estate agents and salespersons are considered by law to be fiduciaries, thus they have a duty to act primarily for the benefit of the principal (the person who employed them) and not their own. A fiduciary must act with the highest degree of care and good faith in relations with the principal and on the principal’s business. Penalties for failing in fiduciary duties may be quite severe.

Fixed Rate Mortgage

A mortgage in which the interest rate does not change during the term of the loan.


The legal process by which a borrower in default under a mortgage is deprived of his or her interest in the mortgaged property. This usually results in the mortgagee selling the property by auction and the proceeds being used to service the mortgage debt.


An estate in real property which continues for an indefinite period of time. Freehold estates may be inheritable or non-inheritable. Inheritable estates include the fee simple absolute, the qualified fee, and the fee tail. Non-inheritable estates include various life estates which are created by acts of parties, such as an ordinary life estate, or by operation of law.


To legally divert part or whole of someone’s money or property to someone else, e.g. for Child Support Payments.


Where a seller agrees to sell to one buyer but then either sells to another buyer or raises the price when two or more buyers show interest.


The ratio of your own money and borrowed funds for investment. See Negative Gearing.

Gross Income

Income before taxes are deducted.


A person who agrees to indemnify the holder of a loan all or a portion of the unpaid principal balance in case of default by the borrower.

Holding Deposit

An initial (goodwill) sum of money given to register interest in or bind the sale of real estate before the full deposit is paid. For example, if a property is purchased on Saturday, the agent may take a holding deposit of a few hundred dollars until the buyer can arrange for the full deposit to be paid on Monday.

Home Equity Line of Credit

A mortgage loan which allows the borrower to obtain multiple advances of the loan proceeds up to a specified percentage of the borrower’s equity in a property.

Home Improvement

A loan made to a homeowner in which the home is used as collateral for the loan.

Housing Expense Ratio

The percentage of gross income that goes toward paying housing expenses.

Key Tenant

A major or primary tenant in an office building or shopping centre. Generally such a tenant leases a significant amount of the available space.


Payment made to someone for referral of a customer or business. Generally speaking, kickbacks are illegal because, unlike a commission, a kickback is made without the customer’s knowledge.

Land Tax

A State tax based on the value of a property (not the principal place of residence) that is paid by the owner.


A person who rents property to another; a lessor. A property owner who surrenders the right to use property for a specific time in exchange for the receipt of rent.


A written agreement between a landlord and a tenant granting a period of tenancy of a property under specific terms and conditions.


The right to use and have exclusive possession (but not ownership) of real estate for a specified period and subject to the fulfilment of certain conditions as recorded in a lease agreement.


A person leasing a property.


The owner of a property that is leased to another person.


A legal claim against a property that must be paid off when the property is sold.

Life Estate

Also called Tenancy for Life. A freehold interest (in real property) that expires upon the death of the owner or some other specified person.

Line of Credit

An agreement by a lender to extend credit up to a specified amount for a specified time for a specified purpose. See Home Equity Line of Credit.

Liquid Asset

An asset, cash or otherwise, that can be converted into cash.


A written contract between an owner and a real estate agent, authorising the agent to perform services for the principal involving the owner’s property.


A sum of borrowed money (principal) that is generally repaid with interest.

Loan Application Fee

Also called Establishment Fee. A fee paid to a lender for processing a loan. Loan to Valuation Ratio The amount of the loan financed as a proportion of the property value, expressed as a percentage.

Market Value

The price at which a seller is happy to sell and a buyer is willing to buy. This assumes that there is sufficient activity in the marketplace to generate enough buyers and sellers so that neither party controls the price. Establishing the market value is the objective of an appraisal.

Mortgage Discharge Fee

A fee charged by some lending institutions for finalising a loan.

Mortgage Insurance

A policy that insures the lender against the borrower defaulting on a loan. Most lenders generally require insurance when borrowing more than 80% of the property value. The premium is paid by the borrower.

Mortgage Offset

A non-interest earning account that is offset against a home loan to reduce the total interest payable.


The lender in a mortgage agreement.


The borrower in a mortgage agreement.



Negative Gearing

Where the return on an investment is not sufficient to cover the costs on the investment, e.g. property maintenance and interest on the loan.

Net Income

Income after taxes are deducted.

Net Worth

The value of a person’s assets minus liabilities. Nominee A person who, in a limited sense, acts for or represents another.

Notice of Default

A formal written notice to a borrower that a default has occurred and that legal action may be taken.

Null and Void

That which cannot be legally enforced, as with a contract provision that is not in conformance with the law.


Conveyed intent by one party to form a contract, which may have conditions and stipulations, with another party.

Offset Account

An account linked to a mortgage account so that the interest earned is applied to reduce the interest on the mortgage.

Old System

Title also called Common Law Title. A series of title documents called a ‘chain of title’. The overall title is sound only if the every document in the chain is sound. The legal investigations are complicated and expensive. An old system title may be converted to a Torrens Title and is automatically converted following sale.


The Australian Banking Industry Ombudsman (ABIO) is the avenue through which a customer can make a complaint about their bank and have it dealt with independently.

Ongoing Fee

A loan maintenance fee charged regularly over the life of the loan.


Or nearest offer.

Open Listing

A type of listing agreement in which more than one real estate agent may be employed to sell the property. The owner pays a commission only to the agent who finds the buyer. This listing is also known as a simple listing or a general listing and the owner is not obligated to pay anyone a commission if the owner personally sells the property. Such a listing is often used by builders and developers who agree to pay a sales commission to any agent who sells a house or lot in their subdivision.

Open Space Land

Land which has not had improvements such as buildings and other structures added to it. Such land is often left in a subdivision by a developer or stipulated by a local authority for recreational use or for personal use by the owner.

Passed In

The highest bid fails to meet the reserve price of a property at an auction and consequently does not sell.


The person who has authority to execute documents on behalf of the grantor of the power.


The process of determining how much money a prospective home buyer will be eligible to borrow before he or she applies for a loan.

Prime Rate

The interest rate that banks charge their preferred customers. Changes in this rate can influence other rates including mortgage interest rates.


The amount borrowed or still to be repaid. The part of the monthly payment that reduces the balance of the mortgage.

Private Sale

The sale of a property by the owner without the services of a real estate agent.

Private Treaty

Sale The sale of property, through an estate agent, by negotiation.


A person who represents another, particularly in some meeting. Also, the document giving to another the authority to represent.

Qualified Acceptance

An acceptance of an offer subject to a condition or conditions which must be met. This is essentially a counteroffer since new conditions are included.

Qualified Buyer

A buyer who has satisfied a lender that he or she is financially able to qualify for a loan. Qualifying the buyer is one of the primary steps taken by the lender as part of the loan process.

Real Estate Agent

A person licensed to negotiate and transact the sale or lease of real estate on behalf of the property owner.

Real Property Land

With or without improvements.


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


Real Estate Institute of Australia. National representative body of real estate agents.


The representative body in Victoria; REIQ in Queensland, etc.

Reserve Price

The minimum price which a seller will accept at auction.

Right of First Refusal

A provision in an agreement that gives a party the first opportunity to purchase or lease the property before it is offered for sale or lease to others.

Right of Survivorship

In joint tenancy, the right of the survivors to acquire the interest of a deceased joint estate.

Roof pitch

The slope of the roof.

Second Mortgage

A mortgage that, on the sale of a property, is paid off only when the first mortgage is paid.


The property that is pledged as collateral.

Seller’s Market

When demand for property is greater than supply. The result is greater opportunities for owners who may find someone willing to offer the asking price or even a figure greater than the asking price. Contrast with Buyer’s Market.


(the loan) The periodic, normally monthly, collection of mortgage interest and principal repayment and other mortgage- related expenses, such as property taxes and property insurance.


The sale of a property is finalised by the legal representatives of the vendor and the purchaser, mortgage documents come into effect, costs are paid and the new owner takes possession of the property.

Special Condition

A condition that must be met before the contract is legally binding. For example, if buying a home the purchaser may specify that the contract is not legally binding until the purchaser has obtained a building inspection.

Stamp Duty

A state tax on conveyance or transfer of real property calculated on the total value of the property (including chattels). This calculation varies from State to State.


Title A title to a unit or lot on a plan of subdivision associated with townhouses, units and blocks of flats and based on the horizontal and vertical subdivision of air space. Owners have a certificate of title, are absolute owners of a freehold flat and have an undivided share of the common property.

Stratum Title

Also called Company Title. A stratum-title owner has a certificate of title and is the absolute owner of a freehold flat. An owner automatically becomes a member of a service company that administers, manages and maintains the property in which the owner’s flat is registered.


A tract of land divided into individual lots for a housing development.


A drawing or map showing the precise legal boundaries of a property, the location of improvements, easements, rights of way, encroachments, and other physical features.


The right to occupy a property under agreed terms and conditions.

Tenancy for Life

See Life Estate.

Tenants in Common

A type of joint tenancy in a property where two or more purchasers own a property in unequal shares. If one dies, his or her shares pass to his or her beneficiaries under the terms of the will. Contrast with joint tenancy.

Torrens Title

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


A dwelling unit, generally having two or more floors and attached to other similar units via party walls.


A document registered at the Land Titles Office and noted on the Certificate of Title which verifies the change of ownership of a property.


A fiduciary who holds or controls property for the benefit of another.

Under Licence

Early possession of the property before settlement with the permission of the vendor. This usually involves the payment of rent.

Unsecured Loan

A loan that is not backed up by collateral.


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


The seller.

Vendor Statement

(Victoria only) Also called the Section 32 Certificate of the Sale of Land Act. Known as Contract of Sale in NSW. A statement by the vendor of the particulars of the property offered for sale. It must be signed by the purchaser before signing the Contract of Sale or Contract Note.


See Null and Void.


A notation made by an individual who has not learned to write or physically unable to write, to show intent to sign an instrument such as a deed or will. In regard to the conveyance of real property, such a person would be required to make such a mark or at least a thumbprint as intent to sign and have it witnessed.


The interest earned or return by an investor on an investment, stated as a percentage of the amount invested.

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