Shared Ownership and New Homes Jargon Buster

March 14, 2024 | Laura Whittle

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From IFAs to OPSOs, staircasing to stamp duty, there can be a lot of jargon when it comes to buying a new home.

Whether you’re a first-time buyer or already on the property ladder, the home-buying process can feel like an overwhelming experience at times, especially if you’re unfamiliar with some of the complex language that is often thrown around in the industry.

To help you make sense of it all, we’ve put together a list of key terms, acronyms and concepts related to house buying.


Refers to your ability to comfortably afford the costs associated with owning a property, including mortgage payments, bills, and other expenses.

Building Insurance Charge

This is a fee that covers the cost of insuring the building where your shared ownership home is located and is typically paid alongside other service charges.


The legal process of transferring ownership of a property from one person to another. This is carried out by your solicitor on your behalf and involves tasks such as searches, contracts, and land registry filings.


The final stage of the home buying process where ownership is transferred, and all legal and financial obligations are fulfilled. (A.K.A. the day you get your keys!)


The company hired to carry out the construction of the property/development by the housing association.


Flaws or issues with a new property that need to be addressed. These can often be covered by your New Build Warranty.


A sum of money paid upfront by the buyer to secure the property purchase, which is usually a percentage (from 5% onwards) of the purchase price. With shared ownership, your deposit is based on the share you are purchasing, not the full market value.


Criteria that must be met in order to qualify for shared ownership, which includes factors such as income thresholds, residency requirements and other qualifying conditions. Eligibility ensures that shared ownership is accessible to those who genuinely need affordable homeownership options. Find out more here.


The value of ownership interest in a property, calculated as the property’s market value minus any outstanding mortgage debt – to put it simply, it is the amount that you own.


The point in the home buying process where contracts are exchanged between the buyer and the seller, legally committing both parties to the transaction.

Fixed Mortgage Rate

A type of mortgage where the interest rate remains the same for set period (typically between two to five years) providing predictable monthly payments.


Total ownership of a property and the land it sits on, giving the owner full control and responsibility.


The process of transferring possession of a property from the developer/seller to the buyer.

Home demo

A chance to visit your new home with a sales advisor once it’s nearly ready, to run through all the appliances to make sure you know how they all work, as well as any other important things you’ll need to know about before you move in.

Housing Association

A nonprofit organisation that provides affordable housing for rent or home ownership through schemes such as shared ownership and Rent to Buy.

Independent Mortgage Advisor / IFA (Independent Financial Advisor)

A financial professional who offers unbiased advice on mortgage options from across the market.

Interest Rate

The percentage charged by a lender for borrowing money, typically expressed as an annual percentage rate (APR).

Key Information Documents

Documents containing important details about a property that buyers need to be aware of before making a decision.

Land Registry

A government agency responsible for maintaining records of land and property ownership in England and Wales.


A legal document outlining the terns and conditions of a leasehold property, including rights and responsibilities of the leaseholder and freeholder.


A type of property ownership where the buyer owns the property but not the land it sits on.


A financial institution/bank, that provides loans, such as mortgages, to borrowers.

Mortgage Offer / AIP (Agreement in Principle)

A formal offer from a lender to provide a mortgage loan, based on an initial assessment of the borrower’s financial situation.

OPSO (Older People’s Shared Ownership)

A specific type of shared ownership scheme aimed at people aged 55 and over.


Buying a property before it has been built, based on plans and specifications provided by the developer.

Proof of Funds

Documentation showing that a buyer has sufficient funds to cover the costs of purchasing a property.

Reservation Fee

A fee paid upfront to reserve a property. This is deducted from the total purchase price at the time of completion when the property sale is finalised.


Investigations carried out by a solicitor to uncover any legal or planning issues affecting a property.

Service Charge

A fee paid by shared owners to cover the cost of maintaining communal areas and facilities.

Shared Ownership

A government-backed home ownership scheme where a buyer purchases a share of the property (based on what they can afford) and pays rent on the remaining share.


A legal professional responsible for handling the legal aspects of a property purchase or sale.


The process of buying additional shares in a shared ownership property, increasing the buyer’s ownership percentage.

Stamp Duty

A tax paid by home buyers to the government on properties over a certain price threshold. The amount of Stamp Duty you pay depends on a variety of different factors such as the property’s location, purchase price, and your individual circumstances, i.e. if you are a first-time buyer.


An assessment of a property’s condition, carried out by a qualified surveyor to identify any issues or defects.


An estimate of a property’s market value, conducted by a qualified valuer for mortgage purposes.

Variable Mortgage Rate

A mortgage interest rate that can fluctuate over time, often in line with changes to the Bank of England’s base rate.

If you’re on the hunt for a shared ownership home, take a look at our latest developments

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