Glossary of Real Estate Terms & Their Meanings

Sometimes terminology can be very confusing. Here is a comprehensive list of fairly typical real estate, building & finance terms you may come across, to help make it easier for you.

If you do not find what you are looking for, let us know, call, chat or send an email to [email protected]

Please Note: (See Also Abbreviations)


ABSENTEE LANDLORD – An owner or sub-lessor who does not reside in the place or area in which he/she owns real estate from which he/she derives rental income.

ABSTRACT OF AUCTION – A summary of the auction advertisements which appears on the property page of a newspaper.

ABSTRACT OF TITLE – A chronological summary of conveyances, mortgage or leases and other deeds giving the names of the parties and the description of the land, arranged to show the continuity of ownership of general law land not under the Torrens system.

ABUTMENT – The load-bearing part of a pier or wall, either in an arch, beam, or bridge.

ACCELERATION CLAUSE – A clause in a mortgage document which requires the immediate repayment of the entire balance due under the said mortgage at any given time should there be a breach of the conditions of the mortgage e.g. repayment default.

ACCESS – Approach or means of approaching. In the case of a property, it could be via a driveway, an alleyway or via a boat/jetty if it’s a water access only property.

ACCESS RIGHTS – The right of ingress to and egress from a property that abuts upon an existing street or highway. Details will be shown on Certificates of Title of both parties granting and receiving the right.

ACCESSIBLE HOUSING – A dwelling designed to allow easier access for physically disabled or vision impaired persons.

ACRE – Imperial measure of land. Approximately 4047sqm or about 40% of a Hectare.

ACQUIRING AUTHORITY – A government department, local authority or other body empowered by statute to acquire land compulsorily.

ACROWPROP – A strut which is light enough to be man-handled, often adjustable in length and used in scaffolding or to support beams temporarily.

ADAPTABLE HOUSING – A dwelling designed to facilitate low-cost modification to enhance access for physically disabled or vision impaired persons.

ADDENDUM -There are several possible addenda that can be attached to a contract, depending on the issues added to the basic offer.  If the buyer wants any inspections, there are inspection special conditions. There is sometimes additional inclusion or exclusion addenda to make sure what the buyer thinks is in the house actually comes with the house. A mortgaggee sale would have mortgagee sale special conditions attached.

ADDITION– Any construction or change in a building that increases the overall area of the structure.

ADJUSTMENTS – Apportionment of rates, taxes, body corporate fees, rent, insurances etc. up to the date of possession or settlement on a sale or letting.

ADMINISTRATOR– A person appointed by a probate court to settle the affairs of an individual dying without a will.

ADMIXTURES – Materials added to concrete or mortar for the purpose of modifying its normal properties, usually to modify its curing times and properties.

AERATOR – A rounded grate that attaches to the tip of a sink spout. The screen mixes air in with the tap water so it flows smoothly.

AGENT – A registered person authorised to act for another (usually for the owner) in the selling, buying, renting or management of a property. Commonly used to refer to licensed real estate agents and real estate representatives. Also known as a land agent.

AGENTS IN CONJUNCTION – Two or more agents employed by a principal to sell or let real estate and share commission.

AGGREGATE – Crushed stones, gravel and/or sand mixed in with cement to make concrete.

AGISTMENT–  Where a landowner allows cattle, horses or similar animals to come upon his land for grazing purposes in return for the payment of a fee.

ALLOTMENT – A lot or block subdivided from a larger portion of land. Also referred to as Lot.

AMENITY – A feature of a property that enhances its attractiveness and increases the occupant’s or user’s satisfaction although the feature is not essential to the property’s use.
e.g. Proximity to public transport or shopping centre.

AMORTISATION – The loan payment consists of a portion which will be applied to pay the accruing interest on a loan, with the remainder being applied to the principal. Over time, the interest portion decreases as the loan balance decreases, and the amount applied to principal increases so that the loan is paid off (amortized) in the specified time.

ANCHOR BOLTS – Bolts used to secure a wooden sill plate to a floor or wall.

ANT CAPPING – A barrier or shield installed over dwarf walls and piers to control the entry of termites; typically made of galvanised iron.

ANTICON – A type of insulation material installed directly under the metal roof sheet; provides some thermal and acoustic installation, but mainly helps reduce the formation of condensation.

APARTMENT – A room or suite of rooms used as a dwelling unit. Not necessarily self-contained. The term flat is used to describe a self-contained dwelling unit in multi-unit dwellings.

APPLICATION – The form used to apply for a mortgage loan, containing information about a borrower’s income, savings, assets, debts, and more.

APPRAISAL – An opinion of the potential saleability of a residential property by a licensed Real Estate Agent.
(In the USA it’s a different meaning, where an Appraisal is performed by an Appraiser and means what Australians call a Valuation performed by a Licenced Valuer.)

APPRECIATION – An increase in the value of a property due to a change in market conditions or supply and demand.

APPRENTICE – Means an employee being trained in an Apprenticeship under a registered Training Contract.

APRON – A piece of finished trim installed under a window sill; can also refer to an extension of a slab typically found in front of a garage door or around the wall perimeters. If the latter, a concrete apron helps direct water away from the building by providing an additional transition from grade to slab.

ARBITRATION – The determination of a dispute by one or more independent third parties rather than a court. Arbitrators are appointed by the parties in accordance with the terms of the arbitration agreement or in default by a court. The arbitration is conducted pursuant to the Arbitration Acts in each State and the award given by the arbitrator/s binds the parties.

ARCHITECT – A person qualified and formally registered to design a building and supervise its construction.

ARCHITRAVE – A decorative moulding around doors and windows. Used for visual appeal.

ARE – Australian Registry Extract is a summary of property details, such as year built, how many rooms, land and building size abnd so on.

ARREARS – Unpaid debts.

ASKING PRICE – The listed price of a property, but may not always be the sale price. The owner may be willing to negotiate.

ASSESSED, RATEABLE, OR TAXABLE VALUE – A value which is based upon definitions contained within applicable laws relating to the assessment, rating, and/or taxation of real property.

ASSIGNMENT – When ownership of your mortgage is transferred from one company or individual to another.

ASSUMPTION OF MORTGAGE – When a buyer takes ownership of real estate encumbered with a mortgage and has assumed the responsibility as the guarantor for the unpaid balance of the mortgage. Such a buyer is liable for the mortgage repayment.

ASSETS – What you own. Real and personal property in which a person has unencumbered ownership (free from a mortgage or any debt owing) or equity and which has value.

AUCTION – A sale usually in public, by an auctioneer, in which property is sold to the highest bidder.

AUCTION AGENCY AGREEMENT – An agreement that the vendor must sign when a property is listed for auction. Details the reserve price and the costs of the auction, including advertising and the agent’s commission. Usually, includes a condition that one agent will have the exclusive right to sell the property for a period during and after the auction.

AUCTIONEER – One who is licensed to sell, or offer for sale, real estate where persons become purchasers by competition, being the highest bidders.

AUSTRALIAN STANDARD – A nationally accepted, government-recognized set of standards for building construction materials, equipment, techniques or procedures as set down by the Standards Australia (SA).


BACKFILL – To sand fill any remaining space after the installation of concrete, brickwork, timber or pipes in an excavation.

BACKING – Strengthening frame timber installed between the wall studs on framed building construction. The backing provides additional support for the drywall and serves as a surface on which interior trims such as brackets, towel bars and cabinets can be mounted.

BAGGING – A method of finishing brickwork involving the application of a thin mortar slurry using a hessian bag or sponge. Can be painted over or left to fade in an oxide finish. Usually completed by the bricklayer. Bagging varies in texture & colour greatly and is not uniform like render.

BALANCE OF DEPOSIT – When the deposit is agreed to paid in two parts, this is the amount left to pay (after the initial payment) prior to the end of the cooling-off period.

BALLOON LOAN – A mortgage with a larger-than-usual payment due upon maturity. The homeowner pays a series of lower monthly payments before the large lump sum payment in the end.

BALUSTER – Also, called spindle or stair stick—is a moulded shaft, square or of lathe-turned form, a form cut from a rectangular or square plank, one of various forms of spindle in woodwork, made of stone or wood and sometimes of metal, standing on a unifying footing, and supporting the coping of a parapet or the handrail of a staircase. Multiplied in this way, they form a balustrade.

BALUSTRADE – A railing supported by balusters that is designed to protect people from falling from an elevated height. Often seen on balconies, bridges or terraces.

BANKRUPTCY – The legal financial state an individual is in, when unable to meet debts. For Companies, it’s known as being ‘Wound-up’. A debtor may be declared bankrupt by the Federal Court at either the debtors or the creditor’s instigation, and the debtors’ estate will be placed in the hands of an official receiver who will distribute the estate in accordance with the provisions of the Bankruptcy Act.

BANK VALUATION – This is a written estimation of the value of the property, carried out by a qualified Bank Valuer.

BARGE BOARD – A decorative board that covers the projecting roof timbers on the gable or skillion end of a roof.

BASIS POINT – One percent (1%) is the equivalent of 100 basis points.

BATT – A section of insulation material (either fiberglass or rock-wool); “faced” batt refers to a section with a paper covering on one side. Batt can also be used to refer to a portion of a brick.

BATTEN – Narrow strips of wood used to cover joints between boards or plywood; sometimes used decoratively.

BAY WINDOW – A window that projects outward from the wall of a building, thus forming a “bay” inside the room. They are typically used to increase the amount of natural light coming into the room so it appears larger.

BEAM – A horizontal, load-bearing structural member; sometimes called a girder.

BEARER – A sub-floor structural timber member which supports the floor joists.

BEDROCK – A consolidated rock layer typically found underneath layers of soil and other unconsolidated material.

BID – A verbal or written offer to purchase. Usually referred to a certain price nominated by the buyer at auction.

BIFOLD DOORS – Doors hinged in the middle, allowing them to open in smaller spaces. Often used for closets and cupboards or exterior access.

BILLS OF SALE – A mortgage of personal property – eg chattels or other goods for the purpose of securing the payment of a debt.

BIT – An interchangeable cutting tool fitted in the chuck of a drill, used to create cylindrical holes. Bits come in many sizes.

BLOW-IN INSULATION – Fibreglass or cellulose insulation material in loose form; used in ceilings and existing walls with unexposed framing members.

BODY CORPORATE – (a) A term used in the Strata Titles Act to describe the body representing the building owners; (b) The control and administration of common property is vested in a statutory Body Corporate which comes into existence automatically on the registration of the plan, and to which the provisions of the Companies Act do not apply. The registered proprietors of the units are the only members of the Body Corporate. Associated rights and obligations are fixed by scheduled by-laws.

BOND (RENTAL) – Consideration held usually under a lease to ensure performance of lease terms and conditions. Normally refundable if possession of the property is returned in good condition.

BOND OR BONDING – The way bricks fit together in a wall. There are two main categories of brick bonds: solid wall bonds and hollow wall bonds.

BOUNDARY CONSTRUCTION – Building work on the boundary of the allotment and the neighbouring one; for example, a garage wall. Often also called a parapet wall.

BOX GUTTERr –  A roof guttering which is not on the exterior edge of the roof.

BREACH OF CONTRACT – The breaking of one or more of the terms or conditions of a contract.

BRACE – An inclined piece of framing timber applied to a floor or wall as a temporary support while framing is in progress.

BRICK – Used on outer wall of brick veneer homes. Made of clay and fired in a kiln. May vary in colour and a wide range of types and textures are available. This outer wall is not load bearing but is cladding or “skin” only.

BRICK CONSTRUCTION – Often referred to as Solid Brick Construction – A building with external and internal walls made of brick.

BRICK TIE – A small piece of corrugated metal strip used to hold the brick veneer wall to the frame of the building, or the two leaves of brickwork together.

BRICK VENEER – A system of building in which a structural timber frame is tied to a single brick external wall.

BRICKWORK – is masonry produced by a bricklayer, using bricks and mortar. Typically, rows of bricks, called courses are laid on top of one another to build up a structure such as a brick wall.

  • Stretcher or Stretching brick – A brick laid flat with its long narrow side exposed.\
  • Header or Heading brick – A brick laid flat with its width exposed.
  • Soldier – A brick laid vertically with its long narrow side exposed.
  • Sailor – A brick laid vertically with the broad face of the brick exposed.
  • Rowlock – A brick laid on the long narrow side with the short end of the brick exposed.
  • Shiner or Rowlock Stretcher – A brick laid on the long narrow side with the broad face of the brick exposed.

Click for more Brick & Paver Terminology.

BRIDGING LOAN or FINANCE– A short-term loan, usually at a higher rate of interest, taken out by people who have bought a house while waiting for theirs to be sold, or when a normal mortgage and their savings fall below the asking price.

B.S. – BullS*** A combination of what you get when a number of agents bid against each other to tell you a higher and higher value for your property to get your business than what it is really worth. It often comes with a promise to do it for less than everybody else and to spend very little on advertising and marketing.
Phrases such as “This is a credit to you”, “This will walk out the door” and so on, help to mask the B.S.
This is usually combined with total negative feedback from buyers which completely surprises the agent who then strongly suggests you need to drop YOUR price over and over again to meet the market.
The B.S. artists are not really on your side and often use any means necessary to get the property sold with every reason under the sun YOUR price could not be achieved.

BUILDERS INDEMNITY INSURANCE – A policy to protect the building owner in case the home builder is unable to complete the work or rectify faulty work. It also protects the owner should the builder die, disappear, or declare bankruptcy. Only a licensed contractor, not owner builders, can take out and pay for this type of insurance. Domestic building work that has a designated minimum cost and requires council approval are eligible for this insurance, such as constructing a house, adding an extension, or carrying out renovations.

BUILDING BY-LAWS – Regulations set down by local authorities to govern how a structure may be built or modified.

BUILDING CODE OF AUSTRALIA – Sets minimum community standards for buildings in terms of health, safety and amenity in buildings for regulatory purposes.

BUILDING CONSULTANT – An expert experienced in designing and/or constructing a building. When employing an expert for a pre-purchase report on a property, you should ask whether he or she has indemnity insurance to cover any serious omissions about building defects not covered in the report. A building consultant is not required to be registered.

BUILDING ENVELOPE – The area in which a house must be constructed within a site. The local authority (council) setbacks and plot ratios usually determine the envelope for a particular block; moving or enlarging it is subject to the approval of a council application.

BUILDING INSPECTOR – An authorised person who is responsible for checking buildings in the course of construction and completed buildings to ensure that they have been constructed in accordance with building control provisions.

BUILDING LINE – The setback from the site boundary required by statutory authorities for buildings.

BUILDING PERMITS– A permit issued by Local Government Authorities for the erection or structural alternations of all structures.

BUILDING REGULATIONS – The Building Code of Australia and other regulations stipulated by local authorities relating to the design and construction of buildings.

BUILDING RESTRICTIONS – Planning and development controls that limit the use, size and location of buildings or other improvements on the land.

BUILDING TRADES – All trades related to construction, such as carpentry, brickwork, painting, plumbing and so on.

BULKHEAD – Lowered portion of a ceiling usually to hide a beam, a drainage pipe or as a decorative feature.

BUSINESS BROKER – An estate agent licensed and certified to sell businesses.

BUSINESS DAY – Means Monday to Friday excluding gazetted public holidays for the State.

BUTT HINGE – The most common type of door hinges. It has two leaves: one attaches to the doorjamb, the other to the door’s edge.utt joint

BUTT JOINT – The junction between two sheets of drywall or two pieces of timber; also refers to materials joined end-to-end or end-to-edge with no overlap.

BUYER – The person buying a property. Also referred to as a purchaser.

BUYER’S MARKET – The condition which exists when, under competitive conditions, the pressures of supply and demand are such that market prices are at a relatively low level, giving the buyer an advantage. An over-supply causing prices to decline.

BUYER’S ADVOCATE or AGENT – Represents a property buyer in negotiations with a vendor or his/her agent. The buyer’s agent is paid by the buyer. Buyer’s agents should be licensed and certified to act as a buyer’s agent.


CANTILEVER– The portion of a building floor or roof that projects over a foundation wall or support below, as in a bay window cantilever. It is unsupported at the non-projecting end.

CAPITAL GAIN – Term used for tax purposes. The amount by which the net proceeds from the resale of a capital item exceed the book value of the asset. Refer to The Australian Tax Office (ATO).

CAPITAL GAINS TAX – A Commonwealth tax payable on the Capital Gain made on the sale of an investment property. Refer to current requirements of the Australian Taxation Office (ATO).

CAPITAL VALUE – The value of a parcel of land including improvements for rates and government property taxing purposes. (It may have no bearing on market value or a bank’s valuation.)

CARPET UNDERLAY – A thick sheet of foam-based or similar material that provides traction to hold the pile fabric in place and gives a softer feel to the carpet.

CARPORT – An open-ended, roofed car shelter, usually created by extending the roof from the side of a building along a driveway.

CASEMENT WINDOW – A window attached to the frame by a vertical hinge on one side so that it swings open like a door.

CASING – Wood trim installed around the opening of a door or window.

CASH FLOW – The owner’s ‘spendable’ income after operating expenses and debt service is deducted.

CAULKING – A flexible material used to fill the gap where two surfaces meet, such as in between pieces of cladding or tiles and the bathtub edge.

CAVEAT – A notice on title proclaiming a possible interest by a third party, other than that of an owner. A notice of warning given to a public authority, e.g. Titles Office, claiming entitlement to an interest in certain land. The caveat is registered and remains on the Title as a warning to anyone who wishes to deal with the property. It, therefore, prevents any action being taken without the previous notice of the person entering the caveat (the caveator).

CAVEAT EMPTOR – ‘Buyer beware’, that the risk in a property transaction lies with the purchaser.

CAVITY – The space between the brick skin and the timber frame in a brick veneer wall.

CAVITY WALL – Masonry wall such as brick or concrete block, built with an enclosed hollow inner space.

CEILING – The top or an overhead portion of a room or building.

CEILING JOIST – The structural member spanning the room to support the ceiling lining which also ties the roof to the rest of the structure at wall plate level.

Glossary of Real Estate Terms

CEMENT– A finely ground inorganic powder that, mixed with water, binds an aggregate/ sand mixture into a hard concrete or mortar within a few days.

CEMENT RENDER – A wall finish where cement mixture is plastered onto a wall surface. May be smooth or pattern finish.

CENTRAL HEATING – Heating of building from a central source either by circulating hot water or steam through pipes and radiators, or warm air through ducts.

CERTIFICATE OF OCCUPANCY – A document issued by a local government to the owner of the property 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 document issued under the Torrens System of Title, showing ownership and interest in a parcel of land. It may also include the size of the land and whether there are any limitations on the title such as mortgages, easements or encumbrances.

CHARGE OVER PROPERTY – The term used to describe any right established over a borrower’s property to secure a debt or performance of an obligation.

CHATTELS – Moveable personal property or furniture. Items such as machinery, implements, tools, furnishings, fittings, which may be associated with land use, but which are not fixed to the land or premises or, if fixed, may be removed without causing structural damage to a building.

CHIPBOARD – A composite material engineered from wood chips, shavings and/or sawdust mixed with a suitable binder and then pressed. Chipboard is a cheaper and lighter alternative to plywood. Sometimes called particle board.

CIRCA – About; around; an approximation (age).

CIRCUIT – The flow of electricity from the power source, through an outlet, and then back to the ground.

CIRCUIT BREAKER – A device designed to limit the amount of power flowing through a circuit in order to prevent overloading, or to isolate power shut-off to specific portions of a building. The circuit breaker looks like a switch and can be typically found inside the circuit breaker box or the electrical breaker panel.

CLADDING – Thin sheets or slabs used to enclose a framework and provides further protection and easier maintenance to a property. E.g. imitation brick, aluminium or cladding.

CLIENT – One who engages the services of an agent or Valuer and to whom the agent or Valuer should look for payment of his commission or fees, in return for services rendered.

CLIP TIES – Sharp metal wires that protrude out of a concrete foundation wall; these cut wires are used to hold the foundation form panels while the concrete is still wet. Clip ties should be trimmed off with a snap tool or a framing hammer.

CODE OF ETHICS – The rules and regulations required by all members of the various real estate institutes or auctioneer societies.

COLLAR – A prefabricated flange installed over a vent pipe to seal the roofing above the opening of the vent pipe. Sometimes called a vent sleeve.

COLLAR BEAM – Reinforcing members that connect opposite roof rafters.

COLLATERAL – Security additional or supporting security given in addition to the principal security.

COLOURBOND– A brand name of sheets of pre-painted steel roofing or cladding material.

COLUMN – A freestanding load-bearing, vertical member.

COMMERCIAL PROPERTY – Property intended for use by all types of retail and wholesale stores, office buildings, hotels and service establishments. In many property circles, commercial property refers specifically to office property.

COMMISSION – The fee or payment made by the seller to an agent for services rendered, such as the sale of property, often calculated with reference to the value of the property, contract or agreement. It is usually a percentage of the selling price of the property. The amount of commission is negotiable between the seller and the agent.

COMMON LAW TITLE – A system of title based upon traditional English land laws which depend upon tracing the ownership of the subject land from the original Crown grant through all succeeding dealings.

COMMON PROPERTY – Areas of a property that are used by and belong jointly to all of the owners of a property. This applies to such property as apartment blocks or multi-dwelling complexes. It is maintained by the Body Corporate. Usually referenced where Strata Title or Community Title applies.

COMMUNITY TITLE – A community title divides the land into lots (of which there must be at least two) and common property.

COMPANY TITLE – (a) Method of obtaining ownership of real estate by way of company shares (usually preceded Strata Title Act); (b) 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.

COMPARATIVE MARKET ANALYSIS – CMA –  A service normally provided by real estate agents prior to listing a property. The true purpose of a CMA is to establish a current estimated market price of a property. This is accomplished by researching both: the currently listed properties and the most recently sold properties, in the same area, with as similar characteristics as the property in question. This information is usually provided to the homeowner to help them establish a fair market selling price or it may be given to a prospective purchaser to help guide them in a proper offer to make the owner. Some real estate agents perform this service for free others may charge for this information. A lot depends on both who is doing the CMA and also how detailed the information that is provided.

COMPARABLE SALES– Recent sales of similar properties in nearby areas and used to help determine the market value of a property.

COMPOUND INTEREST – Where interest is calculated on a sum that includes previous interest payments.

COMPULSORY ACQUISITION – Where an asset is acquired by a statutory authority through legislation, irrespective of whether an owner is willing to sell or not.

CONCRETE – A conglomerated artificial stone made by mixing in specified proportions of cement, water and sand or aggregates and pouring the mixture into prepared forms to set and harden. Used as a construction material; typically reinforced with wire mesh or steel bars.

CONCRETE BLOCKS – Hollow concrete “bricks”. Also called hollow blocks.

CONDENSATION – Moisture that accumulates on surfaces. It encourages wood rot and mould growth.

CONDITIONAL OFFER– An offer to buy a property, subject to something else happening – such as obtaining loan approval.

CONDITIONS OF SALE – The conditions applicable to a sale contract made between a vendor and purchaser.

CONJUNCTION AGENCY – See Agents in Conjunction.

CONSIDERATION – Payment in the form of money or another form of benefit in exchange for an agreed action (e.g. the receipt of goods and/or services).

CONSTRUCTION CONTRACT – A legal document containing the agreed-upon details of a building It should include the following: (1) the contractor’s registration number; (2) a statement of work quality; (3) a set of specifications; (4) a set of the building plans; (5) construction timetable indicating starting, milestone, and completion dates; (6) the quote for the construction work based on a fixed price or computed using a Time and Materials formula; (7) a schedule of drawdowns; (8) allowances, if any; (9) a clause that defines the procedure for handling any disputes; and (10) all applicable warranties.

CONSTRUCTION LOAN – A short-term, interim loan for financing the cost of construction. The lender makes payments to the builder at periodic intervals as the work progresses.

CONSTRUCTION JOINT – A joint provided in structure to allow for movement in the structure due to expansion and contraction.

CONSUMER CREDIT CODE – Legislation designed to protect the rights of the individual, a personal consumer, by ensuring banks and other financial institutions all adhere to the same rules when providing personal, domestic or household credit. It should provide borrowers with complete and honest information.

CONTINGENCY – Usually called Subject-to-conditions. A condition that must be met before a contract is legally binding. For example, home purchasers often include a contingency that specifies that the contract is not binding until the purchaser obtains a satisfactory home inspection report from a qualified home inspector.

CONTOUR SURVEY – A survey of the building site that identifies the amount of rise or fall represented by lines of equal level and relates to a datum (starting) point, normally a front corner.

CONTRACT – A legally binding agreement.

CONTRACT OF SALE – An agreement relating to the sale of property, which expresses the terms and conditions of sale. A legal document usually prepared on the seller’s behalf by an agent, solicitor or conveyancer that outlines the details of the sale. The contract of sale is legally binding when signed by both parties.

CONTRACTOR– In the construction industry, a contractor is one who contracts to erect buildings or portions of them. There are also contractors for each phase of construction: heating, electrical, plumbing, air conditioning, road building, bridge and dam erection, and others.

CONTROL JOINTS – Tooled, straight grooves placed on concrete floors at predetermined locations to create weakened planes where the concrete can crack in a straight line; widely used to prevent random cracking in concrete slab or pathways. Sometimes called contraction joints.

CONVEYANCE – A deed which transfers ownership of common law title from one person to another.

CONVEYANCER – A person (not a legal practitioner) who prepares conveyancing instruments for fee or reward for the purpose of transferring property from the vendor to the purchaser. A legal practitioner is also allowed to engage in conveyancing work.

CONVEYANCING – Transferring the ownership of a property from the vendor to the purchaser. It is usually performed by a solicitor or registered conveyancer.

COOLING OFF PERIOD – A short statutory period after the contract is made, during which the purchaser may cancel the contract unconditionally. It usually, does not apply in the case of auctions.
In South Australia, this period extends to the end of two clear business days from the making of the contract or the service of Form 1, whichever is later. Both documents must be served to the buyer.

CORNICE – The top course or ornamental crowning member of a wall located between ceiling and wall.

COUNCIL – The local government authority with responsibility for administering building codes and assessing and approving development in its local area by means of development and building approvals.

COUNTER-OFFER – A new offer as to price, terms and conditions, made in reply to a prior unacceptable offer. Normally a counter-offer offer terminates the previous offer.

CORBEL – A triangular projecting bracket usually made of stone, wood or brick supporting a mantel or a horizontal shelf. Sometimes called a truss.

CORNER BEAD – Protective brackets made of either metal or plastic, installed to protect outside corners and edges on masonry walls, beams and columns.

CORNICE– A moulding installed over the junction between the ceiling and wall; also refers to the overhang on a pitched roof.

COURSE – A row of shingles, roll roofing, bricks or siding.

COURTESY – Treat others respectfully and with consideration. Eg Return phone calls. Keep appointments or call to confirm that you cannot make it. Provide positive or negative feedback about the property. Say ‘Please’ or ‘Thank you’ if a service is performed.

COVENANT – An agreement that creates an obligation on the titleholder of a property to do or refrain from doing something. For example, a restrictive covenant could state that no more than one dwelling may be built on the land.

COVER NOTE – This is given on behalf of an insurance company giving immediate temporary cover over a specified property for a particular sum as soon as you decide to buy a property, i.e. pay a deposit, and/or sign an agreement to purchase.

CRAWLSPACE – The shallow space underneath a building’s living area; it typically has a dirt floor, and the foundation walls enclose it.

CRAZING – Fine cracks that may appear on a finished surface.

CROSSOVER – The crossing between the front boundary of a private allotment and the road; also called a driveway.

CROWN MOULDING – A decorative trim used to line the junction between the walls and ceiling of a home; usually made of softwood or wood alternatives.

CREDIT – An agreement in which a borrower receives something of value in exchange for a promise to repay the lender at a later date.

CREDIT HISTORY– A record of an individual’s repayment of debt. Credit histories are reviewed my mortgage lenders as one of the underwriting criteria in determining credit risk.

CREDITOR– A person to whom money is owed.

CREDIT REPORT– A report of an individual’s credit history prepared by a credit bureau and used by a lender in determining a loan applicant’s creditworthiness.

CROWN LAND – Unalienated land owned by a State or the Commonwealth Government.

CUL-DE-SAC – An access street with a blind end in the form of a turning space for vehicles.

CULVERT– A round drain pipe installed beneath a driveway to allow groundwater to flow into a drainage ditch; it is typically laid parallel to the street.

CURING – The treatment of concrete or cement rendering to increase its strength and durability. The curing process, which takes between 3 to 14 days, requires the applied concrete’s temperature to be maintained above 10C while its relative humidity remains at 80% or higher.

CUT AND FILL – The method often used to provide a level area on a sloping site, where part of the sloping surface is cut away and used to provide fill on the portion of the slope immediately below it.


DADO – The lower portion of a wall above the skirting when finished in contrast to the remainder of the wall e.g. with wood panelling.

DAILY INTEREST – Interest calculated on a daily basis, it varies according to the daily account balance.

DAMP PROOF COURSE –  (DPC) or DAMPPROOFING – A continuous layer of an impervious material placed in a masonry wall or between a floor and wall to prevent the upward or downward migration of moisture (usually bitumen coated aluminium, PVC, copper or lead).

DATE OF SETTLEMENT – The date on which a contract of sale is finalised and final payment is made.

DEAD LOAD – Structural loads that typically remains constant, such as the weight of fixed service equipment (HVAC, plumbing, etc.) and the building itself, including structural materials and components (ceilings, walls, floors, etc.).

DEBT – An amount owed to another.

DEBTOR– Someone who owes money to another and can be compelled to perform an obligation.

DECK or DECKING – To install timber planks or sheeting over the floor rafters, joists or trusses.

DEFECTS LIABILITY PERIOD – A specified period after the practical completion phase during which a building contractor is responsible for rectifying any defects pointed out during the pre-handover client inspection. The contract should include a Defects Liability clause that sets out the length of this period, the scope of defects that the contractor is expected to correct, and the retention amount. Also known as the maintenance period.

DEFECTS LIST – A list of structural defects, safety hazards, major and minor building defects, maintenance issues, and other flaws the homeowner or inspection consultant observes during property inspection.

DEED – A document executed under seal. For example, a conveyance.

DEFAULT – Failure to make the mortgage payment within a specified period of time.

DELAMINATION – The splitting or separating of a laminate or a solid into layers due to the weakening of physical or chemical bond that holds the layers together. Composite materials, such as plywood, can delaminate; the damage may not be visible from the outside.

DEPOSIT – A percentage of the purchase price paid by the buyer when contracts are signed and exchanged. It is usually ten percent. The deposit must be held in a trust account by the land agent or by the vendor’s solicitor or conveyancer or held jointly in a trust account by the vendor and buyer. (See also Holding deposit.)
*** Please Take Note ***
If you are Transferring Any Funds, Double Check Account Details and TALK to the relevant Agent/ Conveyancer/ Solicitor/ Bank or Broker BEFORE doing so.
We have heard reports in South Australia that scammers have hacked emails and set-up fraudulent account details.
If money is paid into the wrong account… It Will Be LOSTALWAYS CHECK First!

DEPOSIT BOND or DEPOSIT GUARANTEE – Offered by some lenders as an alternative to a cash deposit.

DEPRECIATION – (a) In accounting terms, the writing down of the original cost of an asset systematically over the life of that asset; (b) An effect caused by physical deterioration, or obsolescence, or both; (c) In valuation terms, the writing down of the current cost of an asset to calculate its current value. The accumulated effect on the value of an asset due to physical, functional, technological and economic obsolescence.

DESIGN – An architectural drawing or draft of a plan relating to a structure.

DESIGN GUIDELINES – Rules that govern the style and design of a house to be built on an estate, as set down by the local council or the estate developer.

DETACHED HOUSE – A dwelling unattached to any other building and occupied or intended or designed for occupation as a single dwelling.

DETERIORATION– The gradual exhaustion of the usefulness of a property caused by wear and tear or decay and decline from natural causes. One of the causes of depreciation and loss in value.

DEVELOPER – A person who attempts to put the land to its highest and best use by the construction of improvements upon it. One who, for profit, subdivides the land into building allotments.

DEVELOPMENT APPLICATION or DA – Building plans lodged with the council for approval as partial requirement for the issuance of a Construction Certificate, which will allow the contractor to begin construction or develop land. Should not be confused with a Building Licence, also issued by the council.

DEVELOPMENT APPROVAL – Approval from the relevant planning authority to construct, add, amend or change the structure of a property.

DIRECT DEBIT – Where the Lender debits (deducts) a payment from client’s bank, credit union or building society account. Disbursements Solicitors incidental costs involved when dealing with a client on behalf of the Lender, e.g. searches, certificates pest reports, etc.

DISBURSEMENTS – Recoverable costs. Additional charges by solicitors and conveyancers on top of their fee for extras such as postage, phone calls and government charges. In the case of real estate sales, expenses paid by an agent on behalf of an owner, such as advertising, rates and taxes.

DISCHARGE FEES – An administration fee charged by a bank to cover the costs in finalising a loan account.

DISCHARGE OF MORTGAGE – A dealing by which a mortgagee acknowledges that the debt owed by the mortgagor and secured by a mortgage has been satisfied (usually by being repaid) and ‘discharges’ or releases the land from the mortgage.

DISPLAY HOME – A building which represents a completed example of a dwelling type offered for sale.

DOOR FURNITURE – All fittings on the door except for the hinges.

DOOR JAMB –  The vertical sides of the door opening.

DOOR STOP – The strip on the door frame that the door slab rests on when in the closed position.

DORMER – A roofed window that projects vertically from a sloping roof.

DOUBLE GLAZING – To install a window frame with two panes of glass some inches apart from each other. Double glazed windows reduce noise levels from outside, minimise condensation formation and reduce heat loss or gain to the inside of the house.

DOUBLE HUNG WINDOW – A window with two vertical sashes that can separately move up and down.

DOWNPIPE – A pipe that directs rainwater from the roof gutters to the stormwater drains. Sometimes called waterspout, or roof drain pipe

DRAW-DOWN – Act of transferring money from lending institution to the borrower after the loan has settled.

DRY ROT – Decay of seasoned wood caused by fungus.

DRYWALL – Manufactured panels made out of gypsum plaster sandwiched between cardboard material, used especially for interior walls. Sometimes called gyprock or plasterboard.

DUCTS – Large pipes used to distribute air from a central heating or air-conditioning system.

DUPLEX – A type of building construction where two dwellings are attached to each other by a common wall.

DWELLING – A residence. A place of abode or a structure occupied exclusively for living purposes.


EARTHWORKS – or SITEWORKS – Engineering works performed to prepare the site for construction work; includes tasks such as clearing the land of trees, old structures, and debris; hard-digging; moving large quantities of soil and rock to create a suitable height and level for construction, etc.

EASEMENT – A right to use the land of another (not involving the taking of any part of the natural produce of that land, or any part of its soil) or a right to prevent the owner of that land from using that land in a particular manner. Most commonly used where Government authorities have the right to run, for example, electrical mains, drainage, sewerage or right of way through the private property.

EAVES – The lower or outer edge of a roof which projects over the side walls of a structure.

EFFECTIVE AGE – The age of an item, such as a building, as indicated by its physical condition and utility compared to its useful life, in contrast to its chronological age. The amount of maintenance and care given to the building will help determine its effective age. A 5-year old building may have an effective age of 10 years due to poor maintenance of the building.5

EFFECTIVE CAUSE OF SALE – Where the efforts of a particular real estate agent are considered to have been an essential element in a purchaser entering into a binding contract with a vendor for the sale of a property. An agent considered to be the effective cause of sale will usually be entitled to a commission in respect of that sale.

EFFECTIVE DATE – The date something commences or closes.

EFFLORESCENCE – A white, powdery substance that sometimes appears on brick walls.

EFFLUENT – A liquid discharge from sewerage or septic systems.

EGRESS – The exit point or way out from a property.

ELECTRICAL CONDUIT – Metal, plastic, or fibre pipes through which electrical wires are run. Electrical conduits protect and route wires, making it especially useful when following irregular building profiles or when installing lines in exposed locations.

ELEVATION – A geometrical drawing of the building’s façades or interior walls.

ENCROACHMENT – The use of, or intrusion onto, another person’s property without consent. This usually refers to a structure.

ENCUMBRANCE – A charge or liability on a property; for example, a mortgage or a special condition on the use to which it may be put (e.g. easements, caveat, restrictions and reservations). A third party’s right that obstructs the use or transfer of a property.

ENCUMBRANCEE – The registered proprietor of an encumbrance.

ENCUMBRANCER – The registered proprietor of land subject to an encumbrance.

ENDURING POWER OF ATTORNEY – A Power of Attorney that permits the donee or attorney to continue to act for the donor even though the donor may suffer from a legal incapacity.  This may also include dealing in land and property transactions. See also power of attorney.

ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT STUDY – A multi-disciplinary assessment of existing environmental conditions and the likely effect on a specified environment of the introduction of a proposed development or actions which may change the existing environmental conditions and ecological balance.

ENVIRONMENTAL LOAD – Structural loads that act on a building as a result of natural phenomena such as topography (e.g., soil movement) and weather (e.g., snow, rain).

EQUITY – (a) A synonym for a share (as distinct from fixed interest) investment; (b) the interest or value that an owner has in an asset over and above the debt against it. For example, a homeowner has equity in that part of the value of his or her house above the amount borrowed from a lender.

EQUIVALENT MAIN AREA – The total area under the main roof with percentage reductions for structures that are considered to be a lesser component or of differing construction than the main structure – eg carports, garages, verandahs, porches and rear lean-to.

ESCROW (Used in the USA only) – Monies set aside at settlement to take care of any unsettled issues.
*** Please Take Note ***
If you are Transferring Any Funds, Double Check Account Details and TALK to the relevant Agent/ Conveyancer/ Solicitor/ Bank or Broker BEFORE doing so.
We have heard reports in South Australia that scammers have hacked emails and set-up fraudulent account details.
If money is paid into the wrong account… It Will Be LOSTALWAYS CHECK First!

ESCUTCHEON PLATE – A plate surrounding or covering a keyhole.


  • An interest in land, classified either as a freehold estate (being one of uncertain duration) including the fee simple, fee tail or life estate; as a leasehold estate (being of a duration which is either certain or which is capable of being rendered certain). The third classification of an estate is that of a Crown lessee.
  • The total property of a person – eg the estate of a deceased person or of a person who is bankrupt.

– See Agent.

ESTIMATED SELLING PRICE – The price an agent estimates a property will attract. It must be recorded on the sales agency agreement as a single figure.

EVICTION – The lawful removal of a person from a property.

EXCHANGE OF CONTRACTS – A formal legal process that creates a binding contract for the sale of real property on agreed terms. The vendor and purchaser each sign a copy of the sale contract and then exchange these documents, after which time the contract becomes legally binding on the parties. The parties are then bound to proceed to settlement, subject to any cooling off period that may apply. A deposit is usually also paid by the purchaser to the vendor during the exchange process. Any party that unilaterally declines to proceed to the settlement may forfeit deposit monies or be subject to a damages claim.
*** Please Take Note ***
If you are Transferring Any Funds, Double Check Account Details and TALK to the relevant Agent/ Conveyancer/ Solicitor/ Bank or Broker BEFORE doing so.
We have heard reports in South Australia that scammers have hacked emails and set-up fraudulent account details.
If money is paid into the wrong account… It Will Be LOSTALWAYS CHECK First!

EXECUTOR – A person appointed under the terms of a will to execute provisions and dispose of the property as written or implied. A female in this role is referred to as an Executrix.

EXCLUSIONS – Any item that is specifically not included in the sale. e.g. An above ground pool, garden shed, etc.

EXCLUSIVE AGENCY AGREEMENT – The agreement between an agent and a vendor establishing an Exclusive Listing.

EXCLUSIVE LISTING – Where a single agent only is appointed to sell or lease a property under an Exclusive Agency Agreement.

EXPANSION JOINT– A mid-structure joint or gap designed to accommodate expected building movements caused by temperature changes, wind sway, seismic events, etc. Also called movement joint.

EXPANSIVE SOILS – Soils prone to significant volume changes related to the amount of water present. They expand with moisture and shrink as moisture levels fall. Without design strategies to accommodate the movement and stress caused by underlying expansive soil, the building foundation may sustain extensive damage as the ground lifts and collapses during wet and dry seasons. For example Bay of Biscay or Clay soils.

EXPOSED AGGREGATE FINISH – A pebbled concrete finish. It derives its name from the technique used to achieve this look: The top layer of partially set concrete is washed and swept to reveal the aggregate beneath the finer particles. Commonly used for swimming pool edges/surrounds, patios, driveways and walkways. Sometimes called washed concrete finish.

EXPRESSION OF INTEREST – An expression of interest is similar to a private treaty sale, however, a formal written offer must be submitted for the property usually by a specific date. This process is also seldom used for residential.

EXTENSION – An increase in the length of time or a section forming an addition to a building. e.g. a family room that has been added and attached to an existing part of a property.

EXTENSION OF LEASE – An agreement extending or renewing the terms of a lease for a period beyond the expiration date.


FACADE – The exterior face of a house or other building. Commonly referred to by style names – eg. Traditional, Colonial, Federation, Classic, Executive, Regency, Riviera, Tuscany, Vogue and many more.

FASCIA– A board carrying a gutter around the eaves of a building.

FAMILY ROOM – An informal living room, usually the centre of family activities.

FEATURE SURVEY – A survey to determine the boundaries of a property.

FEE SIMPLE – The fullest and highest possible estate one can possess in real estate. Ownership of unlimited duration. Upon the owner’s death, real estate will pass to their heirs. Note, however, that in Australia, no person other than the Crown can ‘own’ land absolutely.

FENCE – A wall-like barrier around an allotment, yard or farm, usually of wood or steel wire or colour bond, but may be of brick or other material.

FIBRO CEMENT – Building material made of compressed fibres cemented into rigid sheets.

FIDUCIARY DUTY – The relationship between a real estate agent and a client is called a fiduciary relationship. Fiduciary means faithful servant, and an agent is a fiduciary of the client called the principal. In real estate, an agent can be the agent of a seller or a buyer but not both.
Agents usually act in the sellers’ best interest with the authority of a Sales Agency Agreement which sets out their duties and responsibilities. It is one based on trust.
Here’s are some of the fiduciary duties that an agent owes the client. Care: The agent must use all their skills to the best of their ability on behalf of the client. Confidentiality: The agent must keep confidential any information given to them by her client, especially information that may be damaging to the client in a negotiation. Disclosure: The agent must disclose to the client any information they receive that may benefit the client’s position in a negotiation. Loyalty: The agent owes undivided loyalty to the client and puts the client’s interests above their own. Obedience: The agent must obey all lawful orders that the client gives her.

FIDUCIARY RELATIONSHIP – One of trust and confidence in which the agent owes the client certain duties. These include care, obedience, loyalty, disclosure, accounting, and confidentiality. In real words, the agent’s fiduciary responsibility to their client means, your goals and interests are what we work for. This is a legal relationship, with legal requirements.

FIELD BOOK – Field books are old Lands Department records. These are filed in a storeroom adjacent to the survey examination section. They can be viewed on request at the plan lodgement counter. The Land Services Group holds an index book listing the date issued and the surveyor that the book was issued to.

FINANCE APPROVAL IN WRITING – This is written notification provided to a buyer, advising that their bank or financial institution has agreed to lend them money to purchase a certain property. Sometimes known as unconditional loan approval.

FINANCE BROKER – Helps borrowers by providing expert information in comparing the many loans available in the marketplace. A qualified broker looks at the client’s specific needs and circumstances and should be able to interpret which type of loan best suits their client and why. They should actively follow through on a borrowers’ application every step of the way.

FINGER JOINT – A method of creating a longer piece of moulding by interlocking two shorter pieces end to end.

FINIAL – Decorative finish at the top of the gable.

FINISH – The natural surface of a material, or the final applied coat for the walls, floors or ceilings.

FIRE RESISTANCE RATING – Means the minimum period of time during which an element of a structure may be expected to function satisfactorily while subjected to a standard fire test, as set down by the relevant authority.

FIREPROOFING – The use of incombustible materials to protect structural components of a building so it can withstand a complete burn-out of contents without losing structural integrity.

FIRST HOME OWNERS GRANT – FHOG – A scheme providing first homeowners with a financial incentive to purchase a home.

FIRST RIGHT OF REFUSAL – The right granted to a person to have the first privilege to buy or lease real estate, or the right to meet any offer made by another.

FISCAL YEAR – The business year as distinguished from the calendar year. The most commonly used period in Australia is 1 July to 30 June.

FIT OFF – The installation of fixtures and elements after the rough-in phase.

FITTINGS – Items which can be removed without damaging the property such as garden ornaments, lighting and air conditioners. They must be listed in the contract of sale if the buyer wants them to remain with the property.

FIXED FLOOR COVERINGS – Fixed to the floor – wall to wall carpet, kitchen lino, laminate flooring etc. This term does not cover loose rugs.

FIXED INTEREST RATE – An interest rate that remains unchanged for a set period, for example, for the whole term of the loan, or the first year of a loan.

FIXED PRICE CONTRACT – Also referred to as a Lump Sum contract – A contract with a set price for the work; the final cost for the owner is the same whether the contractor’s actual expenses for labour and materials is lower or greater than the estimate.

FIXED RATE MORTGAGE – A loan with a locked-in interest rate.

FIXTURES – Items, which are attached to the property and cannot be removed without causing damage to the property such as bathroom suites, carpets, window fittings, built-in wardrobes and kitchen stoves. They are usually included in the sale.

FLASHING– Sheet metal, copper, lead, or tin used in roof and wall construction to protect a building from seepage of water.

FLAT – A self-contained dwelling unit in a multi-unit building.

FLAT ROOF – A roof having a slope just sufficient to provide for proper drainage; one where the pitch does not exceed 20 degrees.

FLIGHT – An uninterrupted series of steps between floors or between a floor and a landing.

FLOAT AND SET – A two-step technique for applying plaster to brickwork. After the undercoat layer of plaster has partially set, the top coat is applied and trowelled to a smooth finish.

FLOOR AREA – The Total horizontal surface of a specific floor, or the total area of all floors in a multi-storey building.

FLUE – Large pipes that allow fumes to escape from a fireplace, a furnace, or a gas water heater.

FOOTING – That part of a construction designed to transfer loads of the superstructure to the supporting foundation distributing it over a greater area. Usually constructed of reinforced concrete to support base brickwork. It ties or locks the foundation into the ground, preventing shifting or settling

FOR SALE BY OWNER – A home that is being sold by the owner of the property without the representation of a broker.

FORCED SALE – The act of selling real estate, normally by court order. Usually, sales like this are made at auction. A forced sale may be as a result of a breach under a mortgage, unpaid taxes or council rates.

FORECLOSE – Removing the right, title and interest of the owner of a property or asset, usually due to a default of due payments.

FORECLOSURE – A Term used in the USA for a Morgagee Sale. Not commonly used in Australia. (See Mortgagee Sale)

FORFEIT – The loss of anything of value because of failure to act or otherwise do that which was agreed upon. A purchaser under an unconditional contract of sale may forfeit his deposit if he fails to effect a settlement by the due date.

FORM 1 (Vendor’s statement) – Information which the seller must provide to the buyer advising of restrictions such as easements and outgoings such as rates, and any other notices.
This is served, usually at the same time or close to the Contract of Sale being signed.
It also provides information regards Cooling-Off rights.

FORMWORK – Wood or other materials used to shape concrete as it dries.

FOREIGN INVESTMENT REVIEW BOARD – FIRB – An Australian Government entity that reviews foreign investment proposals and advises Government on foreign investment policy.

FOUNDATION – The natural or built-up formation of soil, sub-soil or rock upon which a building or structure is supported. OR The supporting portion of a building, including the footings.

FRAME – (i) In joinery, the name given to the frame around a door or window opening.
(ii) In carpentry, the main timbers of a structure when fitted and joined together.

FRAMED BUILDING – A construction built around a weight-bearing skeleton or framework.

FREE AND UNRESTRICTED RIGHT OF WAY– A specific right of way as set out in section 89 and schedule 5 of the Real Property Act 1886.

FREEHOLD – Absolute ownership subject to limitations imposed by the state; also known as a fee simple estate. An estate held in perpetuity.

FRONTAGE – The distance land or a building extends on a street, where a building faces.



GABLES – The triangular part of a building’s end wall which extends up to meet the two slopes of a roof.

GABLE ROOF – A ridged roof, the ends of which form a gable.

GALINTEL – A steel lintel used to support brickwork over an opening.

GALLEY KITCHEN – a rectangular kitchen layout where counters, appliances and cabinets sit against the walls or in parallel, leaving the narrow middle space clear.

GARNISHEE ORDER – A court order taken out by a creditor on a person’s employer or banker for the deduction of funds from his wages or bank account to repay a debt.

GAUGE – An indicating device usually in brickwork setting out the number of bricks to a certain measurement. brick courses per 600mm in height. This gauge is adjusted to suit the brick and the site conditions.

GAZUMPING – Where the vendor agrees to sell a property but then sells it to another party on more favourable terms. (Not usually applicable in South Australia.)

GEARING (LEVERAGE) – A measure of indebtedness i.e. the extent of borrowings as against the equity held by a person or company in an asset. Usually expressed as a ratio. Positive gearing refers to the magnification of financial gain resulting from borrowing when the cost of capital (borrowed) is less than the return on capital and leads to a magnification of returns to equity. Negative gearing refers to the same relationships but where the cost of capital exceeds the return on capital. Persons would normally only negative gear in the expectation of positive returns in the future.

GENERAL CONTRACTOR – A contractor licensed to take full responsibility for the completion of a building See also subcontractor.

GENERAL LAW TITLE – See Common Law Title.

GENERAL LIEN – Sets out in writing the Bank’s right to retain the property until a debt is paid. Includes Power of Attorney and other clauses generally contained in Bank security forms.

GENERAL REGISTRY OFFICE – GRO – This office registers or enrols dealings with old system land, accepts various plans and written documents concerning land for deposit, for sale and perpetual custody, and registers miscellaneous other dealings such as bills of sale and stock mortgages.

GIRDER TRUSS – A truss that runs in the opposite direction to other trusses and has brackets (shoes) to carry and support the other trusses. The girder truss is often a double truss, made of hardwood in part or has bigger elements than other trusses.

GIRT – A horizontal structural member in a framed wall. They provide lateral support to the wall panel, primarily, to resist wind loads.

GLAZING – The process of installing glass, such as in windows and doors.

GLUED LAMINATED BEAM – Structural beams made from layers of laminated wood glued together to provide extra strength and support over longer distances.

GOING CONCERN – An operating business that will remain in operation for the foreseeable future. It is assumed that the entity has neither the intention nor the necessity of liquidation or of curtailing materially the scale of its operations. Properties sold as a going concern may be treated differently for taxation purposes.

GOODS AND SERVICES TAX – GST – A consumption tax imposed by the Commonwealth levied on the provision of goods and services.

GOVERNMENT FEES – State and government charges at the time of settlement, e.g. stamp duty, registration.

GOVERNMENT TOWN – A government town name forms part of a unique land description for land in gazetted towns under the Crown Lands Act. Parcels within these towns are designated as ‘allotments’.

GRACE PERIOD – A period when a mortgage payment or other debt becomes past due and before it goes into default.

GRADE – In topography, it refers to ground level.

GRADUATED LEASE – A lease which provides for a certain rent for an initial period, followed by an increase or decrease in rent over a stated period.

GRAIN – Describes the direction of growth of wood, as in “cutting along or against the grain”.

GREY WATER – Domestic wastewater flowing from the wet areas of the house: bathroom, laundry and kitchen. Unfit for human consumption. Depending on the situation, can be used to water gardens.

GRID – A framework of spaced main bars and cross tees in a suspended ceiling system.

GROUNDWATER – Water from a subsurface source.

GROUT – A thin, wet mixture of cement, sand and water or suitable similar material, used to seal gaps between masonry or ceramic pieces, such as tile.

GUARANTOR – A person who undertakes to fulfil a contract if the main party defaults.

GUTTER – (i) A channel running the length of the eaves of a building which carries off rainwater, usually by means of downpipes.
(ii) The ridge formed by the edge of a street and raised footpath or a depressed ridge in a road’s shoulder which is a control for the flow of storm water.

GYPROCK – Manufactured panels made out of gypsum plaster sandwiched between cardboard material, used especially for interior walls. Sometimes called plasterboard or drywall.


HAMMER PRICE – The purchase price paid when land or goods are sold at auction.

HANDOVER – The stage in the project when the owner accepts possession of the newly built, completed house and settles the final invoice in full.

HARDWARE – Refers to all the metal fittings installed in the house during the trimming or finishing phase, such as door knobs, closet rods, towel bars, etc.

HEAD LEASE (OR MASTER LEASE) – A lease to an entity that will subsequently grant leases to sublessees who will be tenants in possession.

HEADER – A wall framing member used over a door or window opening.Header: A wall framing member used over a door or window opening.

HEARTH – The fireproof area directly in front of a fireplace, usually made of stone, brick or tile.

HECTARE – The metric measure for an area of land measuring 10,000 square metres (approximately 2.471 acres)

HERRINGBONE – A pattern of bricks or other material giving a diagonal pattern in the form of a series of vees or inverted vees.

HIP – The meeting line of two inclined surfaces.

HIP ROOF – The sloping end of a roof where the ridge line splits and terminates on the external corner.

HISTORICAL SEARCH – A chronological history of dealings as recorded on computerised titles and available from SAILIS. (See SAILIS)

HOLDING DEPOSIT – A small amount paid to the vendor’s agent, solicitor or conveyancer when making an offer on a property. This is not compulsory and is refundable if the offer is rejected.
*** Please Take Note ***
If you are Transferring Any Funds, Double Check Account Details and TALK to the relevant Agent/ Conveyancer/ Solicitor/ Bank or Broker BEFORE doing so.
We have heard reports in South Australia that scammers have hacked emails and set-up fraudulent account details.
If money is paid into the wrong account… It Will Be LOSTALWAYS CHECK First!

HOLLOW BLOCKS – See definition for Concrete blocks.

HOME – Where the heart is! An ideal place to live by yourself, with a partner or raise a family and to enjoy your life. Let us help you ‘Sell Yours’ or to ‘Buy One’.

HOME EQUITY LOAN – A home equity account gives you a revolving line of credit secured by the value of your house. This allows you to use the funds for other purposes such as the purchase of a second property, shares or other investments. The interest rate is generally higher than a standard variable rate.

HONEYMOON RATE –  The Honeymoon rate or introductory rates are offered to entice borrowers with a low advertised rate for the first six to twelve months of the loan. After this, the loan automatically reverts to the Standard Variable Rate offered by that lender. Use of the ‘Comparison Rate’ to better understand the costs associated with such loans.

HOOP IRON STRAP – A strip of thin steel (usually about 25mm wide) which is usually built into brickwork or nailed to frames as a tie-down for wind.

HOUSE – A single, self-contained place of residence detached from other buildings. A house generally consists of enclosing walls with a roof to shelter occupants against both climate and intruders.

HUNDREDS – In South Australia land titles record which hundred a parcel of land is located in. Hundreds are not generally used when referring to a district and are little known by the general population, except when transferring land title. A hundred is traditionally one hundred square miles or 64,000 acres (26,000 ha), although boundaries following local topography often means this is not exact.

HVAC – An abbreviation for heat, ventilation and air conditioning


IMPERIAL – A measurement form including links, yards, feet and inches used before the introduction of the metric system in 1966.

IMPLIED COVENANT – A covenant implied rather than expressly written into a lease. On the part of the lessor, this could include the asset being fit for the purpose for which it is let and allowing for quiet enjoyment. On the part of the lessee, it could include keeping the premises clean.

IMPLIED EASEMENT – An encroachment upon property that has been left unchallenged for a long period of time. One that is apparent by long and continued use.

IMPROVED LAND – Any permanent development made to the raw land which increases its usability, such as the installation of water utilities, sewer, roads and building structures and thereby increase its market value.

IMPROVEMENTS – Anything that is constructed or built on land to increase its original value. e.g. such as a house.

INCLUSIONS – Usually fixtures such as lights, curtains, blinds, ceiling fans, air-conditioning units, flyscreens, TV antenna, dishwasher, range hood, stove, fixed cupboards, clothes hoist or any other removable item that the vendor has agreed will be included in the sale.

INCOME PROPERTY – A property in which the income is derived from commercial rentals or in which the returns attributable to the real estate can be so segregated as to permit direct estimation. The income production may be in several forms; e.g. commercial rents, business profits attributable to real estate other than rents etc.

INDEFEASIBILTY OF TITLE –  The description given to the immunity a registered proprietor of land under the Real Property Act enjoys from attack by a competing claim to the land by some other person.

INDEMNITY– Security against damage or loss, the sum paid in compensation for any loss incurred.

INFILL PANEL – A panel or section used to fill in an area or space between structural sections, eg. timber panelling, decorative panels, brickwork or metal sheeting.

INFILL SLAB – A flooring system where a reinforced concrete slab is poured inside a perimeter wall of brickwork, filling material is placed, compacted and brought to level inside the brick walls prior to concrete placement.

INFRASTRUCTURE – The fundamental physical and organisational structures needed for the successful operation of any real estate development, area, city or country, such as s transportation and communication systems, power plants, and schools.

INGRESS – The entry point to a property.

INSTRUCT – Have someone act for you on their behalf. e.g. solicitor or agent.

INSULATION – A material used to improve the thermal or acoustic efficiency of a building. Generally positioned in external walls and ceiling spaces.

INTEREST – The payment made by a borrower to a lender in return for the loan of money, in addition to the principal repayments.

INTEREST ONLY LOAN – Only the interest on the principal is repaid during the term of the loan. At the end of that time, the principal is repaid as a lump sum.

INTEREST RATE – The rate of return earned on an investment, or charged by a lender, expressed in the form of a percentage per annum.

IRRIGATION – Refers to the lawn or garden sprinkler system.

INVENTORY – List of items; usually furniture, furnishings and other removable items.

INVESTOR – A person who invests money into a business, enterprise or real estate with the intention of obtaining a satisfactory financial return on the capital invested.

INVESTMENT – The purchase of an asset, such as real estate, with the ultimate goal of producing a capital gain on the resale of the asset.

INVESTMENT PROPERTY – Property, either land or a building – or part of a building – or both. Held by the owner or by the lessee under a finance lease to earn rentals or for capital appreciation or both.


JAMB– The inside of a door frame.

JOINT AND SEVERAL LIABILITY – The Bank’s joint account authorities, guarantee forms, and such, are framed to ensure that joint account holders with debts due to the Bank of joint guarantors liable to the Bank shall be SEVERALLY liable, (i.e. individually), as well as JOINTLY. With Joint and Several Liability a creditor has as many rights of action as there are debtors; he can sue them jointly or severally until he has obtained payment, and an unsatisfied judgment against one debtor will not be a bar to an action against the others.

JOINT TENANTS or TENANCY – The ownership of land in common by several persons where there is a right of survivorship i.e. where on the death of one joint owner the land as a whole, vests in the survivors.

JOISTS – Horizontal metal beam or wood structural members supporting a floor or ceiling, to which boards of a floor and the laths of a ceiling are nailed. Supported by bearers.

JUNCTION BOX– A box in the electrical system where one main circuit is connected to another. Also, the box where the smaller circuits join the main circuit.


K – A short abbreviation meaning ‘Thousand’. To save space pricing may be shortened to say $550K, which means 550 Thousand Dollars or $550,000.

KERB – the raised edging to a path or pavement.

KEYSAFE – KEY SAFE – A keysafe is a storage safe designed to allow you to securely store a number of keys outside a building. Often used in real estate when selling a house to ensure that an agent can simply show up at the house without needing to ensure they have grabbed a key in the office. Also called a Lock Box.

KING POST – A vertical member which connects the ridge and beam of a roof.

KNOCK DOWN – The term is used to refer to a property that is in a poor condition and which cannot be restored. The only solution is to demolish and rebuild.


LAGGING – Material wrapped around piping for insulation or protection of pipe, particularly reducing heat loss in hot water pipes.

LAMINATED TIMBER – A built-up timber member made from several timber sections glued together to increase its structural strength or to create a multi-grain or colour effect in bench tops etc.

LAND – The part of the Earth not covered by water. Land can be owned as property or held for productive use, generally, however, the land is the specific bounded area on which an owner has an interest in which that owner may build upon, farm or simply leave vacant.

LAND AGENT – See Agent.

LAND BANKING – The practice of acquiring land and holding it for future use.

LAND BURDENED – The land that is subject to the easement – eg land which the easement is over, is referred to as the servient tenement or land upon which the burden of the easement is imposed.

LAND DIVISION – The process which results in the cancellation of existing and the creation of new plan parcels and the issue of new certificates of title.

LAND TAX – A tax payable annually in respect of the beneficial ownership of land, the rate of which is determined by the assessed valuation. Usually based on the unimproved value of land.

LAND USE CODE – LUC – Used to describe the various uses of land and structures upon it. See land use codes

LANDING – An intermediate platform between two flights of stairs.

LANDLORD – The owner of leased property. The lessor.

LANDS TITLE OFFICE – The lands title office or lands registration office established by statute administers the provisions of the Real Property Act.

LATTICE – A framework of crossed wood or metal strips used as a screen.

LEAN-TO – A small structure with a single pitched roof, usually erected against an outside wall of a larger structure.

LEAN-TO ROOF – A sloping roof supported on one side by the wall of an adjacent building.

LEASE – An agreement whereby the lessor conveys to the lessee in return for a payment or series of payments the right to use an asset for an agreed period of time. Usually between a landlord and tenant.

LEASE TERM – The period of the lease.

LEASEHOLD – Possession and use of a property by virtue of a lease.

LEGAL ESTATE OR INTEREST – An interest in or right over land which may be enforced by a court of law (as opposed to a court of equity). As a generalisation (and one which does not always hold true) a legal estate or interest in land which is registered on a certificate of title. Examples include a registered estate in fee simple and a registered mortgage or lease.

LEGAL FEES– Money paid to a solicitor or conveyancer.

LESSEE (TENANT) – A person / legal entity who receives the right to occupy and use a property under the terms of a lease.

LESSOR (LANDLORD) – The owner of a property who transfers the right to occupy and use the property to another by way of a lease agreement.

LET OUT CLAUSE – Also known as 48 HOUR CLAUSE – This clause is inserted if you are making an offer that is conditional upon the sale of your existing property, but the seller wants to continue marketing their property in the hope of receiving an unconditional offer. Within the 48-hour clause, the seller has the right to continue advertising their property and to negotiate with a potential second buyer. If the seller receives an alternative offer they wish to accept, they must notify you of this. You would then have two business days to secure an alternative source of finance or obtain a contract for the sale of their existing property. If you do not waive the condition before the two days are up, then the contract comes to an end and your deposit will be returned. The seller is then able to enter into a contract with the alternative buyer. We strongly encourage buyers and sellers to fully understand the terms and conditions before agreeing to it.

LIABILITIES – Your outstanding debts or what you owe.

LICENSED REAL ESTATE AGENT – A Licensed Real Estate Agent may perform the activities in the conduct of a real estate business. He/she is licensed to hold responsibility for an agency’s legislative compliance activities.

LIEN – A charge, security or encumbrance upon property for the payment of debt.

LINTEL – A beam spanning over an opening and supporting loads above.

LISTING – (a) A term commonly used by agents for obtaining written instructions to sell or lease real estate; (b) The recording of properties as being available for sale.

LIVE LOAD – The expected range of weight a building (or a part of it) can tolerate based on the structure’s intended purpose and occupancy. It only includes people and movable objects (such as furniture). See also dead load and environmental load.

LMI – LENDERS MORTGAGE INSURANCE – This type of insurance protects the lender, not the borrower, in the event that the borrower can’t meet the loan repayments and the net proceeds of an enforced sale of the property would not be enough to cover the loan. This insurance helps lenders broaden the net of who they are able to lend to by taking some of the risks out of lending the money. It means that more people are likely to get a loan and the home they want sooner.

LOAD BEARING WALL – Any wall supporting some weight other than its own; all exterior walls and any interior walls aligned above a support beam falls into this category.

LOAN – Money borrowed that is usually repaid with interest.

LOAN ORIGINATOR – A person who works for the lending institution whose job it is to meet with potential borrowers to discuss loan options, rates, etc.

LOCK BOX – See Keysafe

LOCK UP – The stage in a building construction project when the shell of the house is properly secured, and only those with keys can get in: Exterior doors are fitted with locks, windows are glazed, and entry points safeguarded.

LONG-TERM LEASE – Generally considered to be a lease extending for ten years or more. In some long term leases the lessee or tenant may desire, or be required, to do extensive remodelling or, if the property leased is land, to construct a building or other improvements.

LOT – A lot or block subdivided from a larger portion of land. Also referred to as an allotment.

LOUVRES – Overlapping timber, glass or metal blades built into an adjustable frame or opening to ventilate, or control light penetration.

LOW DOC LOANS – ‘Low-Doc’ or Low Documentation Loans are designed for the self-employed who often do not have the necessary documentation required to get traditional home loans. The interest rate is higher than the Standard Variable Rate and Low-Doc loans usually require mortgage insurance, adding to their cost.

LOW KEY SALE – Inspections and viewings are scheduled by appointment only. The property may or may not be made publicly available. You can read more on Low-Key Sale Here.

LVR – LOAN TO VALUATION RATIO – The percentage relationship between the amount of the loan and the valuation or sales price (whichever is lower).


MABO – Surname of Eddie Koiki Mabo (c. 29 June 1936-21 January 1992), a Torres Strait Islander who was pivotal in establishing native title through the High Court of Australia legal system. The term “Mabo” has become synonymous with the entire issue of native land title throughout the 1980s and 1990s including various pieces of legislation and instances of litigation. More specifically however it is the decision from Mabo v Queensland (No 2) (“Mabo case”) [1992] HCA 23; (1992) 175 CLR 1 (3 June 1992) that has now come to be known as “Mabo” in Australia and which has been recognised for its landmark status.

MACHINE SHED – A farm building used for the storage of farm machinery. It generally has an open wall on one side.

MAINTENANCE – The act of keeping, or the expenditure required to keep, an asset in condition to perform efficiently the service for which it is used.

MAISONETTE – There does not seem to be an absolute definition, but a usual one is two semi-detached dwellings, normally of single story construction.

MANAGEMENT AGREEMENT – A written contract recording the agreement between the owner and manager of real estate concerning the duties, responsibilities and liabilities of the owner and the manager in the management of that real estate.

MANAGEMENT FEE (PROPERTY) – The fee charged by the property manager to the landlord for the service of managing a property or properties. This service typically includes collecting rents, paying recurrent property expenses, selecting and supervising property service contractors such as cleaners, plant service providers and security. It may also include negotiating new leases, marketing of the property, rent reviews and overseeing building refurbishment. In respect of property trusts, it refers to the fee levied on unit holders by the responsible entity to cover the cost of trust administration.

MANAGING AGENT – A real estate agent authorised to manage the business affairs in connection with the property of another. See also Property Management.

MANHOLE – An access opening in a ceiling, etc, to allow inspection of the roof structure, floor structure, plumbing or electrical wiring.

MANTLE – The shelf above a fireplace.

MANUFACTURERS SPECIFICATIONS – Instructions for maintenance/installation developed by the manufacturer of a product; non-compliance with these instructions voids product warranty.

MARGIN SCHEME – Refer to the Australian Taxation Office.

MARKET APPRAISAL – An opinion of the saleability of a property and its value without carrying out a full-scale valuation. Also, see Appraisal.

MARKET PRICE – The price actually paid, or agreed to in a contract to be paid, for an asset. It differs from the market value in that it relates to an accomplished fact, whereas market value is and remains an estimate until proved. The Market Price may involve circumstances not normally included in the market value.

MARKET VALUE – Market value is the estimated amount for which an asset should exchange on the date of valuation between a willing buyer and a willing seller in an arm’s length transaction after proper marketing, wherein the parties had each acted knowledgeably, prudently and without compulsion.

MASONRY – Building materials bonded together with mortar to form a wall such as stone, brick or concrete.

MATURITY DATE – The last day of the term of the home loan agreement. The home loan must then be paid in full or the home loan agreement renewed.

MEDIAN – The middle number when data is arranged from lowest to the highest in sequence. If there are two median scores, they are averaged to provide the true median. The median is also known as the 50th percentile.

MEDIATION – The process by which a third party assists two disputing parties to reach a mutually agreeable solution. A recommendation made by the mediator is not necessarily binding on the parties.

MELAMINE LAMINATE – A laminate manufactured from layers of paper, textile, plastic, wood or wood veneer compressed at high temperature and sealed in melamine plastic. Often used as shelving in robes or kitchens.

MEMORANDUM OF TRANSFER – A document that records the change of ownership of a property from the vendor to the buyer.

MEZZANINE -A low storey between two floors of a building, especially the first two floors; an intermediary floor. In a theatre, a shallow balcony between the main floor and the first balcony.

MOBILE HOME – A complete, liveable dwelling unit equipped with wheels so that it may be towed from place to place.

MORTAR – A mixing of bush sand (white or yellow), cement (grey or off-white) and water for brickwork. Usually at the rate of 6 part sand to one part cement (by volume) and if required one part lime. Can have a flush, raked or round finish.

MORTGAGE – Documentation of a property loan. Security over real property to ensure payment of a debt or performance of an obligation. Property held as security against a loan.

MORTGAGE GUARANTEE INSURANCE – Paid by the borrower to protect the lender against failure by the borrower to keep up mortgage repayments or to pay back the loan in full when it is due.

MORTGAGE OFFSET ACCOUNT – These offset accounts can help reduce your tax by offsetting taxable income from deposit accounts against interest paid in after tax dollars on mortgage repayments.

MORTGAGE PROTECTION INSURANCE – Covers borrowers for the payment of their mortgage instalments in the event of unforeseen circumstances including unemployment, illness or death. This insurance is paid annually and can vary depending on the outstanding balance of the loan.

MORTGAGEE – Financier who lends money against property as security.

MORTGAGEE SALE – Sale of a property where, in the case of a default of payments by the mortgagee, the mortgagor can sell the property over which the mortgage has been held.  (Referred to as a Foreclosure in the USA)

MORTGAGOR – One who owns an interest in real estate and who executes a mortgage on that interest as security for a loan or for the advance of credit.

MOULDING – Decorative strips of wood used to conceal joints.

MOVING IN UNDER LICENCE – When the seller allows the buyer to take legal occupation of their property before a settlement has occurred, usually for an agreed fee.

MULLION – The vertical member between two adjoining windows.


NATIONAL ELECTRONIC CONVEYANCING PROJECT – Australia’s joint government and industry initiative to create an efficient and convenient way of completing property based transactions and lodging title dealings for registration.


NEGOTIATION – The process of discussions between buyer and seller, which are usually handled by the agent.

NET INCOME – The income received by an individual AFTER TAX has been taken out.

NET PROFIT – The profit remaining in a business after all expenses have been taken out but BEFORE TAX.

NET YIELD – Is the income on your property less certain expenses such as rates, insurance, maintenance and body corporate levies.

NEWEL -The bottom or top post of a stair balustrade which supports the handrail.

NOGGING – A horizontal timber strut fixed between studs or joists in framed construction to provide stiffening.

NOMINEE – A person who, in a limited sense, acts for or represents another.

NOSING – The internal sill finish of a window or front edge of a stair tread.

NOTICE OF PRACTICAL COMPLETION – Notice furnished by the builder to the client to indicate that in the builders view contracted works are now completed.

NOTICE OF TERMINATION – The notice given by either the landlord or tenant that they want to end the rental agreement and vacate the property in compliance with the terms and conditions of the lease.

NOTICE TO VACATE or QUIT – A legal notice served on tenants requiring them to vacate real estate due to a breach of lease terms.


OCCUPANCY – Having possession of property. Physically taking and holding it and residing there as a tenant or owner.

OFF-STREET PARKING – Parking space provided in an area that is not part of a road.

OFF THE PLAN – Purchasing ‘off the plan’ involves buying a property before it has been built. Such purchases are usually based on the architects or builders plans and models.

OFFER – The consideration or price offered to purchase or lease an asset. With or without conditions.

OLD LAND SYSTEM – Land which was granted by the Crown in fee simple by a land grant prior to 2 July 1858 and which has not subsequently been bought under the Real Property Act. Dealings with such land are registered in the General Registry Office.

OLD SYSTEM TITLE – See Common Law Title.

ON THE MARKET– The point at an auction where a price is reached at or above which the seller is prepared to sell. This is not always indicated at auctions. So do not expect it always to be called out if you are bidding.

ONE UNDIVIDED MOIETY – A one undivided half share in the land. The interest of a tenant in common. Note that, although having a distinct share in the land, this does not entitle the proprietor of the share to the exclusive ownership of any identifiable portion of it. This is an old system and few properties are affected by this.

OPEN AGENCY AGREEMENT – The agreement between an agent and a vendor establishing an Open Listing.

OPEN HOUSE – OPEN INSPECTION – An occasion when a house that is for sale is presented for prospective buyers to see or inspect. The house is left open, supervised by an onsite selling agent, for a specified period of time at a fixed advertised time.

OPEN LISTING – Where a vendor grants selling or leasing rights over a property to any number of agents on a non-exclusive basis. The first agent to procure a buyer ready, willing and able to purchase or lease the property on terms acceptable to the vendor receives the commission. Also known as a Common Listing, Simple Listing or Open Agency.

OPTION TO BUY – A right for a consideration to purchase a property on or before a fixed date, on terms previously agreed upon. An option entitles but doesn’t oblige, the person having the option to make the purchase. The owner is bound to sell at a particular price if the prospective purchaser wishes him to be bound, providing that the purchaser makes up his mind within the term of the option.

OUTBUILDINGS – Any building other than the main structure on a particular allotment of land e.g. a garage, workshop etc.

OUTGOINGS – a) The expenses incurred in generating income. In real estate, these expenses include but are not necessarily limited to, property rates, insurance, repairs and maintenance and management fees.
b) Any costs incurred by the seller on top of the agent’s commission. For example, marketing and advertising costs.

OVER CAPITALIZATION – Improvements so costly or so large as to produce a residual land value lower than the residual land value which could have been produced on the same site by a less costly or smaller improvement.

OWNERSHIP – The right to possess and use the property to the exclusion of others.

OWNER – In relation to land, the owner includes every person who jointly or severally whether at law or in equity: (a) is entitled to the land of an estate in freehold possession; or (b) is entitled to receive rent or profits thereof, whether as beneficial owner, trustee, mortgagee in possession or otherwise.

OWNERS CORPORATION – See Body Corporate.


PANELLED DOOR – Door with sunken raised panels on its faces.

PANEL LIFT DOORS – Trade name for sectional lift panel garage doors. Doors roll up in 4-5 sections.

PARAPET – A low wall protecting the edge of a balcony, terrace or roof.

PARCEL– A piece of land, regardless of size, in one ownership.

PARTICLE BOARD – A plywood substitute manufactured from coarse sawdust and resin.

PARTITION – A dividing wall.

PARTNER PROGRAM – An alternative to Private Sale or For Sale By Owner. Check out Partner Program here.

PARTY WALL – Wall separating two adjoining buildings and normally straddling the boundary.

PASSED-IN – If a property is not sold at auction because the owner’s reserve price has not been reached, it is passed in.

PAVER – A brick paver is more of a decorative brick than traditional brick. As such, more consideration is given to the colour, shape and texture of pavers. Additionally, whereas traditional bricks have holes in the center to reduce weight and cost, brick paver generally comes without holes. Pavers vary dramatically in size.

PEDIMENT – Projecting triangular gable over an entrance, door or window or forming the gable end of a roof.

PEG OFFSET – The distance from the house to the surveyor’s pegs.

PELMET – A built-in head to a window to conceal the curtain rod or to a sliding door to conceal the tracks. Usually made of wood.

PENALTY CLAUSE – A provision in a contract that defines the conditions that would merit a reduction in the amount payable to the contractor, such as failure to meet contract specifications or failure to meet deadlines.

PENTHOUSE– An apartment built on a portion of the roof or top floor of a building. Typically, such units are larger and more luxurious than most apartments.

PEPPERCORN RENT – When land is let free of rent and the landlord wishes to be able to obtain an acknowledgement of the tenancy when necessary, a nominal rent is frequently reserved, consisting of one peppercorn a year to be paid by the tenant when demanded as evidence that he is occupying land as a tenant and is not thereby developing rights adverse to those of the landowner himself.

PERGOLA– An open framework over a path, terrace, patio, etc.

PERIODIC LEASE– Where the tenant continues to rent the property after the lease has formally expired. Notice to terminate the agreement may be given by either party during this period.

PERMIT – A council authorisation to carry out a building process, such as a grading permit, a demolition permit, a plumbing permit, etc.

PERP – A vertical joint in masonry construction.

PEST INSPECTION– A thorough inspection by a certified Pest Inspector to check for the current or prior presence of pests such as termites.

PEST TREATMENT – Treatments to the underside of the slab, around the perimeter of the slab and to the lower portion of the timber frame. Designed to prevent the intrusion of termites.

PEXA – The property exchange system that provides for the national electronic lodgement and settlement oof conveyancing transactions.

PHYSICAL DEPRECIATION – The decline in property value due to the physical action of time and the elements, as well as through usage. Deterioration through the physical depreciation is normally as a result of inadequate maintenance or normal weathering and decay.

PICTURE RAIL – A wooden or plaster moulding fixed to a wall at or above door height for hanging pictures or for decorative purposes.

PIER – A column or post supporting a superstructure, such as beams, floor or verandah bearers.

PIERING – Columns of concrete, usually poured into drilled holes in the ground, on which the concrete slab will rest. This ensures that the slab is ultimately resting on the ground sufficiently solid to support the weight of the home. The size and extent are determined by a civil engineer.

PITCH ROOF – The angle of a sloping roof. The ratio of the height to span usually expressed in degrees eg. 22-degree pitch.

PLAN – This shows the ground plan design, elevation of the house, number and size of rooms, kitchen, bathrooms and laundry layout, the position of the house on the land.


  • community plan (C) – a plan of community division, dividing the land into lots and common property under the Community Titles Act
  • deposited plan (D) – a plan deposited in the LTO, including plans for amalgamation and division and plans lodged under the Roads Opening and Closing Act 1991 and the Crown Lands Act 1929
  • filed plan (F) – plan filed in the LTO – eg plan for easement purposes
  • GRO plan (G) – old subdivisions lodged in the 1800’s over NUA land or plans for leasing purposes
  • hundred plan (H) – plans depicting the original subdivisions of the state
  • out of hundred plans (H) – plans depicting the original subdivisions of the state not within hundreds
  • road plan (R) – plans lodged with the Lands Titles Office depicting roads opening and closings pursuant to the Roads opening and Closing Act 1991
  • strata plan (S) – a plan dividing the land into units and common property under the Strata Titles Act 1988.
  • town plans (T) – plans depicting the original subdivision of a government town

PLANNING APPROVAL – Approval from the relevant authority to use the property for a specified use.

PLASTER – A mixture of lime or cement and sand used to cover walls or ceilings.

PLASTERBOARD – A plasterboard wall and ceiling lining sheets. Also known as drywall or gyprock.

PLUMB – Vertical and even, 90 degrees to level.

PLYWOOD – Sheeting made from thin layers of veneer at right angles to each other and bonded together under heat and pressure. Can be used as flooring, wall sheeting, bracing and formwork.

POA – See Price on Application

POINT – A point is 1 percent of the amount of the mortgage.

POINTING – The filling of joints in brickwork or masonry. The completion of jointing between ridge or hip tiles with a matching colour after bedding of tiles or troweling of mortar into joints.

PORTABILITY – Where a new property can be used as security for an existing loan, i.e. when the loan is transferred to a new security property without needing to repay the loan, reapply, or restructure.

POWER OF ATTORNEY – A legal document that authorizes another person to act on one’s behalf. A power of attorney can grant complete authority or can be limited to certain acts and/or certain periods of time.

PRE-APPROVAL – This means having your loan approved in principle by a bank or finance broker. By having Pre-approval, gives you an idea of how much you can borrow to buy a property.

PREFABRICATED HOUSE – prefab – A house, manufactured, and sometimes partly assembled before delivery to the site.

PREFABRICATION – The off-site manufacture of parts of buildings. Such as walls, floors, trusses and so on.

PREMISES – A house, building or other structure together with the surrounding grounds that form part of the title. Also, the real estate forming the subject of a conveyance or licence.

PRICE ON APPLICATION – (POA) – A property listed with a sale price of “POA” means buyers will need to contact the agent to receive pricing details.

PRINCIPAL – (a) A term used in most Australian contracts in lieu of ‘client’ or ‘proprietor’; (b) A licensed estate agent holding responsibility for an agency’s legislative compliance activities including legal responsibility for trust accounts.

PRINCIPAL – The amount borrowed or remaining unpaid. The part of the monthly payment that reduces the remaining balance of a mortgage.

PRINCIPAL BALANCE– The outstanding balance of principal on a mortgage. The principal balance does not include interest or any other charges.

PRIVATE SALE – Where an owner offers property for sale without engaging an agent. (See also Partner Program as an alternative)

PRIVATE TREATY SALE – A sale negotiated directly between the parties or their agents through private negotiations and contract.

PROBATE – The official grant of the court to an executor of the right to deal with the property of a deceased person. The executor proves the will and receives a grant of probate.

PROJECT HOME – A house built from a pre-designed set of building plans.

PROMOTION – Marketing and advertising the property for sale.

PROPERTY – At law, property consists of the private rights of ownership. To distinguish between real estate (realty), a physical entity, and its ownership, a legal concept, ownership of land is known as real property. Physical items other than real estate are legally termed ‘personality’ and their ownership is known as ‘personal property’. The word ‘property’ used without further qualification or identification may relate to real estate, personality or a combination. Colloquially, property is anything that can be owned or in which an interest can be held, over which control can be exercised, which can be traded or left in an estate or from which current or future rights to receive benefits can be held. Property can include but is not limited to, real estate and associated interests therein, personality, intellectual property, rights, licences and options, plant and machinery, art and jewellery, goodwill and shares.

PROPERTY INSURANCE– Insurance policies that may cover properties, house contents, landlord, etc.

PROPERTY INTEREST REPORT – PIR – The property interest report gives clients information about various State Government interests for all properties in South Australia. This information, along with details of interests delivered directly from state government agencies, is used to complete the required Form 1 given to purchasers of real estate prior to property settlement.

The Land and Business (Sale and Conveyancing) Act 1994 and regulations are set in place to provide consumer protection for those purchasing property in South Australia. Section 7 of the act identifies the requirement for a statement of government interests to be served by a vendor or their agent, on a purchaser prior to settlement in the required Form 1.

The property interest report comprises the following items:

*report listing the necessary particulars to assist with the completion of Form 1 for the sale of a property
*title and valuation details and a check search providing details on any registered or unregistered dealings lodged within the previous 90 days
*a copy of the certificate of title
*land tax certificate
*emergency services levy certificate
*SA Water certificate
*the property interest report can be ordered using SAILIS or from Land Services,

A property interest report refresh is also available that provides an instant update to confirm any changes to the original property interest report within 90 days of the initial request.

PROPERTY MANAGEMENT – The management of a property on behalf of the owner. For example, the leasing of space, collection of rents, selection of tenants and generally the overall maintaining and managing of real estate properties for clients.

PROPRIETOR  – The owner of an estate or interest in land. See also registered proprietor.


PUBLIC LIABILITY INSURANCE – It is common practice for business people and homeowners to insure against this liability to others for death, injury or damage accidentally caused by their negligence or by their employees, servants or agent.

PURCHASE – To buy; to acquire by lawful means except by gift or inheritance. To obtain by paying money.

PURCHASE & LEASE BACK – A real estate transaction wherein an investor purchased a property and allows the seller to remain in possession as a tenant.

PURCHASE PRICE – The price paid; the amount for which a property is sold.

PURCHASER – The person buying the property. Also called a Buyer.

PURLIN – A horizontal timber or metal beam along the length of a roof, resting on principals and supporting the common rafters or boards.


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.

QUANTITY SURVEYOR – A person trained in construction measurement and costs. They usually work closely with the architect, designer, engineer and builder to itemise the quantities of materials and labour needed to build a house or other building. Using the design drawings to give an estimate of how much the project should cost.

QUARRY TILE – Machine-made, unglazed tile often used for floors.

QUOIN – A decorative stone or brick corner of a wall.

QUOTE – The document provided by the builder or contractor that details what work is to be done and the costs included. Forms part of the contract if accepted.


RAFT SLAB – A concrete floor slab designed with an integrated edge and internal beams (where necessary) to support the full load of the structure above.

RAFTER – A structural member used to support the weight of the roofing material and the roof loads.

  • Common Rafter – A rafter spanning the full distance from the eaves to the ridge.
  • Cripple Rafter – A rafter connecting a hip and a valley.
  • Gable Rafter – A common rafter at the end of a pitched roof.
  • Hip Rafter – A rafter forming the hip at the external line of intersection of two roof surfaces. Jack rafters meet against it.
  • Jack Rafter – A rafter between a ridge and a valley or a hip rafter and theeaves.

RAKED CEILINGS – Where the ceiling line, follows the line of the roof timbers often referred to as a Cathedral Ceiling and may have the roof timbers exposed.

RAKED JOINT – A brick joint raked out as a decorative finish; from rake, which means slanted or sloped.

RAMMED EARTH – A method for building walls from layers of soil mix compacted between forms. The soil mix is composed of clay, sand and aggregate mixed with a small amount of cement; a pneumatic rammer is used to compact the soil mix within the forms.

RATES – Periodic property taxes levied by Local and State Governments (e.g. water rates).

RAW LAND – A piece of property that has not been developed and remains in its natural state. (Also known as undeveloped land)

REACTIVE SOILS – Soils generally containing clay, that are subject to varying degrees of swelling and shrinkage due to changes in moisture content.


REAL ESTATE MARKET – The buying and selling of real property that creates supply and demand resulting in the setting of market values and prices.

REAL PROPERTY – All the rights, interests, and benefits related to the ownership of real estate. Real property is a legal concept distinct from real estate, which is a physical asset. There may also be potential limitations upon ownership rights to real property.

REAL PROPERTY ACT 1886 – The statute which presently governs the registration of dealings with land held under the Torrens System.

REALTOR – Term used for Real Estate Agent in the USA.

REALTY – Term used for Real Estate in the USA.

REBAR or REINFORCING BAR – Ribbed steel bars used to strengthen poured concrete structures, such as slabs, walls and footings; comes in various sizes and shapes.

REDEVELOPMENT – The development or improvement of cleared or undeveloped land in an urban renewal area.

REDEVELOPMENT ZONE – An area of land designated by a planning scheme as an area in which the existing development is to be replaced by a new development of the kind specified in the planning scheme.

REDRAW FACILITY – A loan where the borrower can make additional payments and then access those funds when required. There may be a minimum redraw amount.

REFERRAL – The act of telling someone about the positive features of a person or a business, or the person who is being referred. This could be for a consultation, a review or further action which would be of benefit to the referred person.
An example of a referral is telling someone or giving a recommendation, why a certain reliable, ethical and trusted person or business would be of help to them or a good relationship for them to consider. You can Refer a Friend here.

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

REGISTERED BUILDER – An individual, partnership or company duly licensed to carry out construction contracts.

REGISTERED PROPRIETOR – Any person appearing by the register book or by any registered instrument of title to be the proprietor of land or of a mortgage, encumbrance or lease.

REGISTER GENERAL – The official charged by the Real Property Act with the responsibility for the administration of that act. The Registrar-General (who is responsible to the Attorney-General and ultimately to parliament) acts through officers of the Land Titles Office who have been delegated his or her powers, duties and functions.

REGISTRATION – (Under the Real Property Act) – Register any instrument purporting to transfer or otherwise deal with or affect any estate or interest in land under the provisions of the Real Property Act.

Registration confers indefeasibility of title. Effectively, a transferee or mortgagee seeking registration of a transfer or mortgage seeks State affirmation -eg government guarantee, of his or her position through registration.

REINFORCEMENT – Reinforcing Rods, bars or prefabricated mesh, usually of steel, embedded in concrete for the purpose of resisting particular stresses.

REINFORCED CONCRETE – Concrete which has been strengthened by the inclusion of steel reinforcing mesh, bars and rods.

RELIEF VALVE – A valve or device design to open when it detects high pressure or temperature; a safety feature found in hot water service heaters and boilers.

RENDER – A hardwall finish such as cement or plaster applied to brick or masonry walls.

RENT – A payment made periodically by a lessee to a lessor for the use of premises.

RENT REVIEW – A periodic review of rental under a lease using a predetermined method. For example, an increase in line with Consumer Price Index (CPI) or in accordance with a market valuation.

RENT ROLL – A group of rental properties managed by a real estate agent and includes names of tenants and the amount they pay.

RENTAL DETERMINATION – A valuation report by an independent Valuer fixing a rent, in circumstances where a lessor and lessee have been unable to negotiate an agreement.

REQUISITION – A formal written request by a Land Services Group officer in the Lands Title Office.

A requisition may require the following:

  • completion, correction or alteration of the instrument
  • production of muniments of title, documentary evidence or declarations
  • clarification of the intention of the parties and of the certifying party
  • submission of a legal opinion to support or substantiate the instrument
  • some other action be performed eg – the temporary withdrawal of the requisitioned instrument, or the withdrawal of a caveat affecting the estate or interest being dealt with.

The Registrar-General may refuse to proceed with the registration of the instrument until the requisition is complied with.

RESCIND – To terminate a contract of sale.

RESERVE BANK of AUSTRALIA – Australia’s central bank with responsibility for regulating monetary policy including the official interest rate.

RESCISSION – Rescission is the act of cancelling the contract from the beginning and restoring the parties to the positions they were in as if the contract was never made. It is thus distinguished from discharge or termination of a contract where the rights and obligations accrued up to the moment of termination remain in place.

RESERVE PRICE – A seller’s minimum sale price for the property. It must be recorded in the auction record and cannot be more than 110% of the vendor’s acceptable price.

RESIDENCE – The place where one lives; a person’s home.

RESIDENTIAL PROPERTY – Property zoned and used for dwellings such as houses, flats and apartments.

RESIDENTIAL TENANCIES TRIBUNAL – Specialist bodies exist in most Australian States and Territories to resolve disputes between landlords and residential tenants in a low-cost manner, usually without the involvement of lawyers. Specifically, these bodies include the: Residential Tenancies Tribunal (ACT, SA); Residential Tenancies Authority (QLD); Residential Tenancies List (VIC); Residential Tribunal (NSW); Commissioner of Tenancies (NT); and Residential Tenancy Commissioner (TAS). Tenancy disputes may be heard by the Small Disputes Division of Local Courts in WA.

RESIDENTIAL TENANCY DATABASE – A risk management tool used by agents to identify tenants with a history of breaching tenancy rules.

RESTORATION – Remodelling a building to its original form; contrasted with rehabilitation.

RETAINING WALL – A wall used to hold back some solid material such has earth and to prevent erosion.

RETENTION – A portion of the contract price withheld from payment until all the specifications in the building contract has been completed.

REVERSE MORTGAGE – A mortgage over a residential property owned by a person (usually over 55 years of age), where repayments are not required until the property is sold or the last homeowner dies.

REZONING – The change of land use by the responsible authority or local municipality from one zone to another, e.g. residential to commercial etc.

RIDGE – The highest edge (Apex) of a roof, usually horizontal.

RIGHT OF ACCESS or RIGHT OF WAY – Where an ongoing right of access has been granted, usually for inspection of services, agistment, etc.

RIGHT OF ENTRY – Where a landlord may inspect the premises, provided reasonable notice is given to the tenant.

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.

RISE AND FALL CLAUSE – This clause would be contained in a building contract. It provides for an upward or downward contract price dependant on the movement of prices, wages or other factors specified.

RISER – The vertical surface of a stair between two treads.

ROADS (OPENING AND CLOSING) ACT – The South Australian statute which governs the opening and closing of public streets and roads.

ROLLER DOORS – A metal garage door that rolls up on a drum, manually activated or motor driven. The upper enclosing element of a building or area which gives protection to the covered space from the external environment.

ROOF – The upper enclosing element of a building or area which gives protection to the covered space from the external environment.

  • Dutch Gable – A roof having a small gable near the ridge of a hipped end.
  • Hip(ped) roof – A roof or part of a roof which is pyramidal in shape with sloping surfaces and level eaves all round.
  • Skillion roof – A roof slopingon one direction only, without a ridge or peak.

ROOF PITCH – The slope of the roof.

ROOF SHEETING – Wood panels or sheet materials fixed to the roof rafters, on which the roof covering is laid.

ROOF TILE – Usually of concrete or terracotta. A wide range of patterns and colours.

ROUGHING IN – To install basic lines (plumbing, electrical, HVAC) without making the final connections; done while the covering materials for the walls, ceilings and floors are not yet in place during construction.

RURAL PROPERTY – Property zoned for non-urban uses, including farmland and bush blocks.


SAILIS – The South Australian Integrated Land Information System that supports the State’s survey, titling and valuation functions and provides online access to property information including Certificates of Titles, Plans and Dealings.

SALEABLE PROPERTY –  Property that can be readily sold; marketable because of location, demand, price or some other desirable factor.

SALE BY CLOSING DATE – SBCD – A Term used in Victoria by some agents who could not use the wording ‘Set Date’ as it is Copyrighted by another agency. A similar strategy to Sale by Set Date or Set Sale, where it combines private treaty, price range selling and elements of an auction campaign allowing subject-to-conditions into the mix. A price range may be indicated.
FORTHCOMING SBCD, means the Closing Date has not been set, for example during the Covid-19 restrictions or some other reason.
In South Australia however, we can use Set Sale, here are details on how Set Sale works.

SALES AGENCY AGREEMENT – A legally binding document which is signed by the seller and the agent. It details the agreement between the seller and the agent. Many aspects of the sales agency agreement such as commission and advertising costs are negotiable between both parties. Remember you get what you pay for.

SALES REPRESENTATIVE – A registered person employed by a registered land agent to sell real estate.

SARKING – The silver-like membrane laid on over the roof timbers and immediately under the roof tiles. In areas prone to bushfires, it keeps sparks from entering and igniting the roof timbers.

SASH –  Framework that holds the panes of glass in a window.

SA WATER SPECIAL METER READING – A non-periodic reading of a property’s water meter.


SCAFFOLDING – A tubular steel structure assembled on site which provides a working platform for tradesmen – usually bricklayers. Required by law.

SCALE – The relationship of an object to the human body (human scale); the relationship of the size of a drawing to the size of the actual object, eg. 100:1

SCHEDULE – A table in the construction documents that lists the location, sizes, and quantities of the windows, doors and mirrors to be installed in your home.

SCISSOR TRUSS – A truss or strut with a sloping bottom chord to produce a raked ceiling at a cheaper cost than rafters.

SCOTIA – A concave moulding.

SEASONED TIMBER – Timber dried to a stable moisture content prior to use. Either by air or kiln drying. Unseasoned timber will shrink over time as the timber dries, causing movement in the building structure.

SECOND SITE INSPECTION – A reinvestigation of a building site to consider matters not able to be assessed during the initial inspection eg. site levels after demolition.

SECTION – This is a land parcel identifier, part of a legal description of land subdivided by the government within hundreds.

SECTION 7 – A section of the Land and Business (Sale and Conveyancing) Act 1994 that identifies the requirement for a statement of government interests to be served by a vendor or their agent, on a purchaser prior to settlement. The property interest report provides information to comply with this requirement.

SECURITY – Property offered as backing for a loan. In the case of home loan money usually, acts as the ‘security’.

SEDIMENT CONTROL BARRIER – A barrier placed around the boundary of the land on the low side to prevent silt or soil washing from the block of land into the street drainage system.

SELLER’S MARKET – The condition which exists when, under competitive conditions, the pressures of supply and demand are such that market prices are at a relatively high level, giving the seller an advantage. An under-supply causing prices to increase.

SELF CONTAINED – A property which has all its own facilities. This likely includes stove-top, oven, dishwasher, microwave oven, fridge/freezer. Crockery, cutlery and utensils may be provided depending on letting agent. A washing machine and a dryer may also be included.

SEMI-DETACHED – A type of construction where two buildings are attached together by a common wall. E.g. a duplex

SEMI-GLOSS PAINT – A paint that dries to a finish not as dull as flat paint, but with less lustre than gloss paint. This finish is usually preferred for bathrooms and kitchens to prevent the formation of mould and for ease of cleaning.

SEPTIC SYSTEM – A private sewerage system consisting of a tank, distribution box and leaching field. The sewerage flows into the tank, the wastewater rises and goes out a pipe to the distribution box. From this point, the waste water is diverted into the leaching field consisting of three perforated pipes which allow the waste water for leaching into the ground. The sludge remains in the tank and must be pumped regularly.

SERVICEABILITY– Ability of borrower to make and meet repayments on a loan, based on the borrower’s expenses and income.

SERVICE FEE – Money paid to professionals for their work, e.g. agent or solicitor.

SET BACK – The distance from the front or interior property line to the point where a structure can be located.
Side Set Back – As above for side boundaries.

SET DATE SALE or SET SALE – Combines private treaty, price range selling with the intensity of an auction campaign and allows subject-to-conditions into the mix. Here are some more specific details on how the set sale works.

SETTLEMENT – (Purchased Property) This is the final stage of the sale when the purchaser completes the payment of the contract price to the vendor and takes legal possession of the property.

SETTLEMENT – (Built Property) Shifts in a structure usually due to movement cycles often caused by inadequate compaction or moisture changes in soils. Cracks or breaks in concrete, brickwork or plaster are common indications of ground settling.

SETTLEMENT DATE – The date on which a contract of sale is finalised and the balance of money is paid for an asset.
*** Please Take Note ***
If you are Transferring Any Funds, Double Check Account Details and TALK to the relevant Agent/ Conveyancer/ Solicitor/ Bank or Broker BEFORE doing so.
We have heard reports in South Australia that scammers have hacked emails and set-up fraudulent account details.
If money is paid into the wrong account… It Will Be LOSTALWAYS CHECK First!

SEWERAGE– System of sewage disposal; a pipe or closed channel for carrying away sewage or waste water from premises for sanitary purposes.

SEWERAGE LINE – A diagram showing the property and the location of the house- service line, the building and the wastewater.

SHADOW DIAGRAM – A diagram representation of the shadowing effect on adjoining properties by the proposed new home to be built.

SHEET METAL WORK – Refers to all components of the house that uses sheet metal, including but not limited to gutters, downspouts, flashing and return air ducts.

SHINGLES – Tile-shaped roof covering made of asphalt, wood, ceramic, slate or other materials.

SHORING – The temporary or permanent support of an existing building, often due to demolition or of footing excavation to prevent collapse.

SHUTTERS – Door-like louvred frames installed on the sides of a window for decorative and/or protective purposes.

SILL – The lower horizontal portion of a window or door.

SITE – The block of land on which the home is to be built.

SITE ANALYSIS – Site analysis examines and records the existing characteristics of the site, and its surroundings and identifies the opportunities and constraints for the site in relation to Council’s policies.

SITE COSTS – Those costs that arise from placing a chosen home to be built on your land and the cost of connecting to services. Includes the levelling of the building area, connection of sewer and storm water, removal of trees, piering under the slab, deep edge beams, connection to power, material handling costs etc.

SITE COVERAGE – The percentage of the site covered by the new home. Imposed to prevent buildings being out of scale (too big) with the surrounding neighbourhood and to ensure sufficient open space, play area and off street parking. For example, you may be allowed to cover 40% – 60% of the site. Always check with your builder and/ or council.

SITE INSPECTION – An inspection of your new building site to assess the typography, service locations and all characteristics that are to be assessed in preparing a quotation.

SIMPLE INTEREST – Interest that is calculated on a sum that does not include previous interest charges.

SIMPLE LISTING – See Open Listing.

SITE VALUE – The value of a parcel of land excluding structural improvements for rates and government property taxing purposes. (It may have no bearing on market value or a bank’s valuation.)

SKEW NAILING – The driving of nails at an oblique angle often in different directions to improve the strength of a joint of fixing.

SKILLION – A roof sloping in one direction only with rafters pitching from, or leaning against the wall.

SKIRTING – Narrow and horizontal timber or custom wood strips around the bottom of the internal wall where it joins the floor. Usually to hide any gap there and prevent pests from entering.

SKYLIGHT – A window installed in the roof.

SLAB – A flat concrete foundation that rests directly on the ground, sometimes called slab-on-ground.

SLAB IN BRICKWORK – A flooring system whereby before the concrete slab is poured a perimeter wall of brickwork is constructed, filling brought on and the slab laid on top of the brickwork. Usually used where it’s necessary to raise the finished floor levels.

SLIP JOINT – A joint designed to allow movement between two members usually in the form of two layers of sheet metal with grease installed on top of a brick wall prior to installation of a concrete slab.

SLOPE – The slope (also called grade, incline, gradient, fall, pitch or rise) of land. It refers to the angle of that surface to the horizontal. A larger number indicates higher or steeper degree of “tilt”. The Slope is calculated by finding the ratio of the “vertical change” to the “horizontal change” between (any) two distinct points on a line. Generally speaking, the higher the slope, the more expensive to build. Sloping blocks often have views.Refer to this Chart

SLUMP TEST – Determines the consistency of a freshly-made batch of concrete by measuring the degree of collapse that occurs when the form is removed. A slump test is used in estimating the final strength of a concrete batch.

SOLD – Sold means Sold, (unless it’s not). A property is sold when price and conditions between buyer and seller have been agreed and all subject-to-conditions have been met. However, things can still go awry between being considered sold and settlement taking place. Get professional and trusted advice along the way.

SOLD AS-IS – Means the seller doesn’t take any responsibility for the condition or repairs or provide a warranty of any kind.  The cliché, “what you see is what you get” comes into play.  You can still do a home inspection however, all needed repairs will likely not be done by the seller. You just have to make sure that you realize what is wrong and that the price you’re paying reflects this. This is often associated with a mortgagee or an estate sale.

SOLE AGENCY – See Exclusive Listing.

SOIL CLASSIFICATION – A system to gauge reactivity of soil.
“S” means stable ground – not much expansion or contraction.
“M” means moderately reactive soil – some expansion or contraction.
“H” means highly reactive – a large measure of expansion and contraction.
These conditions are determined by engineers and foundation systems are designed to meet the appropriate classifications.

SOFFIT – The underside of eaves or a slab.

SOIL TEST – A test performed by engineers to determine the properties of soil within a specific area, such as its bearing capacity, permeability, water depth, etc. This information helps the builder decide which type of foundation would be best for a construction project.

SOLICITOR – A legally qualified person who undertakes legal work and provides legal advice for a fee. A solicitor may specialise in conveyancing and property law.

SPAN – The horizontal distance between two supports of a beam bridge or other structural element.

SPEC HOME – A house built on the speculation that the owner can sell it later at a profit.

SPECS/ SPECIFICATIONS – A narrative list of details that supplement working drawings and the information included in the plans, such as materials, colours, model numbers, allowances, methods, etc.

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 finance or a building inspection.

SPECIAL RESOLUTION – Special resolution is defined within the Strata Titles Act 1988 and the Community Titles Act 1996. It takes place at a meeting where all members are present and entitled to vote. Members must be given at least 14 days written notice and over 75% of the total votes cast must be in favour of the resolution (proposal) for it to be passed. Where there are 3 units or lots, 2 votes in favour of the resolution are required for it to be passed.

SPECULATOR – One who speculates; that is, one who buys any commodity, including real estate, in the expectancy of selling in a higher market.

SPROCKET – A framing timber used in eaves construction.

SQUARE– A square is a measurement of home area. One square = 9.3 square metres approximately.

SQUARE SET OPENING – An opening that does not have timber facings. The plasterboard is squared off or “square set”.

STAIR RISE – The vertical distance from one stair tread to the next.

STAIR RUN – The total horizontal distance from the first step to the last step; this is not the same as the sum of the individual tread lengths.

STAKEHOLDER – Person who holds the deposit that the buyer has paid to purchase a property – usually the agent or solicitor in their trust account.

STAMP DUTY – The tax imposed by state governments on certain contracts (e.g. Contracts of Sale and Registered Leases). The amount of tax payable is calculated as a percentage of the contract value

STANDARD LEASE – A lease in commonly used form into which specific clauses or provisions may be written.

STATIC VENT – A vent without a fan.

STCA – Subject to Council Approval.

STCC – Subject to Council Consent. For example, a block is sold as sub-dividable STCC. Meaning the local council or planning department in your state, needs to give their approval after checking it meets planning and zoning guidelines and regulations.

STEPPED EDGE BEAM – Also called Deepened Edge Beam, Thickened Edge Beam, or Dropped Edge Beam. Refers to the edge beam around the edge of the concrete slab that has been enlarged or deepened to contain filling or to provide for a level floor where cutting and filling alone will not suffice.

STORMWATER MANAGEMENT SYSTEM – A system designed to manage the collection and controlled distribution of all roof and surface water generated on a building site.

STRINGER – The two pieces of timber between which the stairs are set. These can be painted or stained.

STOCK AND STATION AGENT – Stock and station agents are certified to broker transactions that involve livestock, rural property and agricultural products on behalf of their clients.

STOP ORDER – A formal, written notification issued to a contractor to discontinue some/all work on a construction project. It may be issued for such reasons as cancellation of contract, safety or building code violations, or the use of defective materials or bad workmanship.

STOP VALVE – A device installed in a water supply line that allows you to shut off the water supply to a specific fixture without interrupting the service to the rest of the system. Toilets, sinks, and bathtubs have stop valves.

STORY SHEET – A document that the real estate agent sends to the conveyancer who is handling the settlement of the property. It includes all relevant details and contact information of the purchaser and the seller the contact details as well as the conditions and information about the lender. There maybe other information as well. This ensures the conveyancer knows all of the important details in addition to the contract and form 1 to ensure a smooth settlement of the property

STRATA CORPORATION – A corporation created by the deposit of a strata plan and consisting of the registered proprietors of the units defined in the plan.

STRATA PLAN – The registered plan of a strata title property showing the boundaries of lots and unit entitlements. Pursuant to legislation on strata or unit titles.

STRATA TITLE – Individual ownership of an apartment or unit within a block or multi-unit complex. This is separate from and additional to the joint ownership of common areas shared by all the property owners in the building or complex.

STREET TYPES – See abbreviations used here street types

STRUCTURAL FLOOR – A framed timber floor used as a base floor for houses built on very expansive soils as well as other surfaces where concrete floors are not suitable.

STUCCO – An exterior plaster finish that uses cement as a base as well as a binding agent.  Stucco may be used to cover less visually appealing construction materials such as metal, concrete, cinder block, or clay brick

STUD – An upright supporting member of a timber wall frame to which wall covering (plasterboard) are fixed.

STUD FRAMING – A building method that distributes structural loads to a series of lightweight studs, unlike a post-and-beam construction, which relies on heavy load-bearing vertical posts.

STRUCTURAL SURVEY – A detailed inspection of all aspects of the building structure, such as the types of material used, the state of the footings, the integrity of the walls, and the condition of the roof.

SUB-AGENT – A person employed by an agent as their sales representative to provide assistance in transacting the affairs of the principal. In some States including South Australia, a sub-agent is referred to as a sales representative.

SUB CONTRACTOR – A contractor working under another contractor and not directly for the client.

SUBDIVISION – Divisions by a land owner, of all or part of a parcel of land, into separate allotments (or sections), each with a separate title, in accordance with a ‘plan of subdivision’ approved by the planning authority.

SUB FLOOR – The open space below an elevated floor.

SUBJECT TO COUNCIL CONSENT or STCC – For example, a block is sold as sub-dividable STCC. Meaning the local council needs to give their approval after checking it meets planning and zoning guidelines and regulations.

SUB-LEASE / SUB-LET – A contract whereby the whole or part of the property is let to another person, the party letting being themselves a lessee. The obligations of the lessee to the lessor are not diminished. The length of the sub-lease must not be longer than the unexpired part of the head lease.

SUMP – A large receptacle installed inside the building or grounds for collecting ground water from the perimeter drains; a submersible pump sometimes pushes this water outside. Often referred to as a soakwell.

SUSPENDED  CEILING – A ceiling system hanging from the overhead structural framing.

SURETY– Person who makes themselves responsible for another’s payment of a debt; also knows as the guarantor.

SURVEY – The measurement and depiction on paper of the boundaries of real estate and the location of the improvements on the land, or measurement of a part of a building, usually undertaken by a registered surveyor.

SURVEY ACT – The statute that provides for the licensing and registration of surveyors and makes provisions relating to surveying and land boundaries.

SURVEY GRAPHIC INDEX – The survey graphic index is a series of maps (mostly standard 1:2500 series) annotated with numbers representing survey plans. The reverse side of the plan contains a cross-reference from the number to the actual plan reference. In some cases, only a search or document or docket or application reference is provided. Use the cross-reference search on SAILIS to check for plan references. Survey graphic index sheets are available in SAILIS. (See SAILIS)

SURVEYOR GENERAL – The official charged by the Survey Act with certain responsibilities under that act.

SURVEY PLAN – Plan showing survey marks and certified correct by a licensed surveyor.

SURVEY PLAN IMAGE  – Survey Plan Images contain scanned images of survey plans. These plans show the boundary measurements of properties as well as other information used by surveyors.

SURVIVORSHIP – Upon the death of one joint tenant, the remaining interest in the land is transmitted to the surviving joint tenant(s).
For example, if A and B own land as joint tenants and A dies, then B will become the sole registered proprietor.
Unless ‘shares’ are shown on the certificate of title, the ownership is joint tenancy and survivorship will apply.


TAKE OFF – A quotation that includes an estimate of all the construction costs involved in building a home based on your design and specifications. It should include costs associated with purchasing your block, financing, labour, materials and utilities, as well as commissioning construction plans, lodging permits, managing the allotment, and conducting site inspections.

TEMPERED GLASS – Glass treated such that it does not shatter or break into sharp shards when force is applied; instead, it breaks into pellet-like pieces with relatively rounded edges. Tempered glass is required in tub and shower enclosures, entry doors, and low windows. Sometimes called safety glass.

TENANCY AGREEMENT – A form of lease, generally in an abbreviated form. It may be registered on an owner’s certificate of title.

TENANCY or TENANTS IN COMMON – Ownership that is separate and not held directly with another person. There is no survivorship. Each person owns a share of property,

TENANT – A person or entity paying rent in exchange for the occupancy of a building or dwelling. See also, Lessee.

TENANT’S AGENT – A Tenant’s Agent should be a licensed real estate agent, who acts on behalf of a tenant in a commercial property transaction.

TENDER – The sale of an asset through the seeking of written bids.

TERMITE SHIELD – A galvanized metal sheet wrapped along the bottom of foundation walls or around pipes to keep termites out.

TERRACOTTA – A reddish-brown fired clay often used to make flower pots, flooring tiles, roof tiles and other decorative ornaments.

TERRAZZO – is a composite material, poured in place or precast, which is used for floor and wall treatments. It consists of chips of marble, quartz, granite, glass, or other suitable material, poured with a cementitious binder (for chemical binding), polymeric (for physical binding), or a combination of both. Metal strips divide sections or changes in colour or material in a pattern. Additional chips may be sprinkled atop the mix before it sets. After it is cured it is ground and polished smooth or otherwise finished to produce a uniformly textured surface.

TERM – The length of a home loan or a specific portion of that loan. Third Party Security Security provided for a mortgage by a third party, i.e. someone different from actual borrowers, who is legally different from the borrower or debtor.

THRESHOLD – The step or sill at an external door of usually timber tile or brickwork. Traditionally the Groom carries his Bride over.

TIGER TAILS – Black and yellow striped warning cover cupped over existing aerial power lines for the protection of workers on a building site.

TILT-A-DOOR – One piece garage door. Usually timber on a metal frame that tilts up in one piece to permit passage. Spring assisted, manual or motor assisted opening.

TIME IS OF THE ESSENCE – Contract law term indicating the time period within which a contract or certain Acts specified in a contract have to be executed. It simply means hurry up. Otherwise you may miss out or even penalties might apply.

TITLE – A legal document that identifies who has a right to the ownership of a property. Usually called a Certificate of Title. The form of ownership of real estate (i.e. Torrens, strata or company title).

TITLE DEEDS – Documents evidencing the ownership of property.


  • Certificate of title (CT) – a certificate issued pursuant to the RPA, which certifies that the person named therein as the registered proprietor has title to the land described in the certificate. It can exist in a manual (Imperial or Metric) or computerised format. The original title is retained by the Lands Titles Office.
  • Community title (CT) – a certificate of title for a community lot, community strata lot, development lot or common property in a community plan.
  • Crown lease (CL) – a lease of Crown land authorised by statute (e.g. the Crown Lands Act 1929). Crown leases are dealt with in a similar way to certificates of title.
  • Crown record (CR) -a computerised record of un-alienated crown land. It must not be confused with a certificate of title (to which it bears some superficial visual resemblance).
  • Limited title (LT) – a certificate of title issued as part of the conversion process from the old system, where either survey data or proof of ownership is insufficient to issue a regular certificate of title.

TITLE SEARCH – A check of public records to make sure that the vendor has the right to sell and transfer ownership of a property.

TOP PLATE – Timber plate at the top of a wall frame.

TORRENS TITLE – The title to land by registration. Originating in South Australia under the stewardship of R.R. Torrens (later Sir Robert Torrens) and enacted in 1858. The Torrens titles has superseded the ‘Common Law Title’ system throughout Australia. Under the Torrens system dealings and ownership of land are managed by registration with the Titles Office. It is governed by the real property act.

TORRENS TITLE SYSTEM – The system employed in all Australian jurisdictions under which title to land is conferred by the official registration of a dealing in that land. The fundamental principles of the system are:

  • that it is the act of the Registrar-General in registering a dealing which passes the legal title to land or creates legal interests therein
  • that registration confers indefeasibility of title
  • that it is not necessary for a person intending to deal with the land to investigate the history of a registered proprietor’s title and
  • that the title is guaranteed by the government, such that should a person be deprived of an interest in land, he or she will be paid monetary compensation.

The system is named after its creator, Robert Torrens, who introduced it in South Australia in 1858.

TOUGHENED GLASS – Glass made by rapidly cooling the glass to make it shatter into small pieces when broken for safety, It usually cannot be cut and needs to be made to order to size. It is unlike laminated glass which is made from layers of glass with silicon between to crack only when broken for safety and can easily be cut on site.

TOWNHOUSE – Two storey attached building, usually Strata or Community Titled.

TRADESPERSON – A skilled manual worker who has typically been formally trained through an apprenticeship programme. For example, a carpenter, plumber, roofer, painter or plasterer.

TRAINEE – An employee being trained in a Traineeship under a registered Training Contract.

TRANSFER – Document registered in the Land Titles Office recording change of ownership of a property.

TRANSFEROR – The person transferring any land, mortgage or lease.

TRANSFEREE – The person to whom any land, lease or mortgage is transferred.

TRANSOM – A horizontal member dividing window or door frame units at the top of the frame.

TRANSOM LIGHT – A sash or light above a door or window, usually fixed.

TRANSMISSION – The passing of title to land (or an interest therein such as a mortgage or lease) in any manner other than by transfer. For example, on the death of a sole registered proprietor, his or her estate or interest in the land is transmitted to his or her executor or administrator.

TREAD – The horizontal part of a stair upon which you step.

TRIM – The finishing phase of plumbing, heating and electrical work performed during house construction; continues where the rough-in phase left off. Often called fit off.

TRIMMER – A timber member fixed between joists or trusses to provide stiffening or to support ceiling lining

TRUSS – A structural frame made up wholly of members in tension or compression lying in the same plane. (co-planner) for the bridging of long spans and/or the support of superimposed loads. Members are usually arranged in a series of triangles to form a rigid framework.

TRUST ACCOUNT – A legislatively required bank account where monies are held by an agent for or on behalf of another person e.g. deposits, rental etc.
*** Please Take Note ***
If you are Transferring Any Funds, Double Check Account Details and TALK to the relevant Agent/ Conveyancer/ Solicitor/ Bank or Broker BEFORE doing so.
We have heard reports in South Australia that scammers have hacked emails and set-up fraudulent account details.
If money is paid into the wrong account… It Will Be LOSTALWAYS CHECK First!

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

TURNKEY – Is a type of project that is constructed so that it can be sold to any buyer as a completed product. This is contrasted with a build to order, where the constructor builds an item to the buyer’s exact specifications, or when an incomplete product is sold with the assumption that the buyer would complete it.


UNCONDITIONAL SALE – The point when seller and buyer are legally bound to complete the sale.

UNDER CONTRACT – A home is under contract when a buyer has made an offer on a home but the sale is not final. In order for a home to no longer be under contract, all contingencies (ie subject-to-conditions must be met eg – building inspection, finance clauses). When these have been met, the home will considered as sold rather than under contract. Then it’s a matter of waiting until settlement.

UNDERPINNING – In general, the term applies to timbers or other props temporarily supporting a foundation during construction; also permanent supports added to increase the load-bearing capacity of a foundation.

UNDERSLAB PLUMBING – Includes any waste or water lines installed underneath the concrete slab

UNENCUMBERED PROPERTY – Property free and clear of mortgages, restrictive covenants, leases and assessments of any kind.

UNIMPROVED VALUE – A statutory concept of value used mainly for rating and taxing purposes, which envisages the land as being in its virgin state but enjoying the benefits of all external factors which influence the value at a given date. The value of land as if all existing improvements thereupon, including site works, had never been built or made, but regarding all other lands as in their current circumstance, including all improvements, roads, services and amenities.

UNENCUMBERED – Property free of covenants or other restrictions.

UNIT – Each dedicated lot/ unit area designated within a strata plan.

URBAN IMPROVEMENTS CODE – These are abbreviations for property improvements. Eg H = House, DG = Double Garage. See more code explanations here urban and rural properties codes

UTILITIES – The private or public service facilities such as gas, electricity, telephone, water and sewer that are provided as part of the development of the land.


VACANCY – A rental property or any unit thereof that is unlet.

VACANCY RATE -The proportion of inhabitable rental premises which are vacant.

VACANT LAND – Land without improvements constructed upon it.

VACANT POSSESSION – Refers to a property purchase that is not subject to a lease, is vacant and can be occupied or rented out immediately upon settlement.

VACATE – To give up occupancy; to make vacant; move out of property.

VALLEY – The meeting line of two inclined roof surfaces at a re-entrant angle.

VALLEY GUTTER – A metal gutter built into the roof valley to carry water to the eaves guttering.

VALUATION – An estimate of the value of a property by a qualified and licenced Valuer, usually for a fee. Only a qualified Valuer can undertake valuations. Whereas a land agent can perform an appraisal of the property.

VALUATION REPORT – A document that records the instructions for the assignment, the purpose and basis of the valuation, and the results of the analysis that led to the opinion of value. A Valuation Report may also explain the analytical processes undertaken in carrying out the valuation, and present meaningful information used in the analysis. Valuation Reports can be either oral or written. The type, content and length of a report vary according to the intended user, legal requirements, the property type, and the nature and complexity of the assignment. The terms, Valuation Certificate and Valuation Report, are sometimes used interchangeably.

VALUER – A person who is: (a) registered/ licensed/ approved to carry out property or plant and machinery valuations under any State, Territory or Commonwealth legislation; and/ or (b) a member of the Australian Property Institute who is accredited as a Certified Practising Valuer.

VALUER GENERAL  – The official charged by the relevant act with the responsibility for administration of that act.


  • Site value – the value of the land including site improvements (such as levelling, retaining walls and clearing of timber) but excluding structural improvement.
  • Capital value – the value of the land including all improvements permanently attached to the ground (such as buildings and sheds). The Capital value is used by Rating Authorities as the basis for the levying of rates, taxes and other imposts. The value is determined annually and based on the analysis of market evidence.
  • Notional value – concessional property valuations that protect existing uses where there is pressure to alter the use away from the current use or the current zoning allows for a more valuable use. The notional value will disregard any potential enhancements to value including existing land divisions. The lower notional value will be used by rating authorities to provide rate relief to the owners. Refer to the Valuation of Land Act 1971 Section 22A and 22B.

The types of notional values are:

  • Residential – to qualify the owner must be a natural person and the property is their principal place of residence.
  • Rural – to qualify the land must be genuinely used for the ‘business of primary production’.
  • Heritage – to qualify the land must form part of the state heritage as defined under Section 22B of the Valuation of Land Act 1971.
  • Native vegetation – granted under the Native Vegetation Act 1993. To qualify an agreement must be registered on the certificate of title under Section 23 of the act.

Please note that a combination of notional value types for a particular parcel of land will be granted where applicable.

VARIABLE INTEREST RATE – A rate that changes in accordance with the rates in the marketplace.

VARIATION – An addition to, omission from, or alteration to a contract or to the contract conditions.

VARIATION ORDER – (often referred to as a VO) – A modification in the scope of works originally included in a construction contract whether in the form of an addition, substitution or omission. A VO may include the alterations to the design, quality, quantities, working conditions or the sequence of work. A VO may not change the fundamental nature of the works, nor can it omit work.

VAULT – A space with an arched ceiling.

VENDOR – One who sells anything. In real estate transactions, the person(s) or entity selling the property.

VENDOR BID – A bid made on behalf of the vendor. Vendor bids can only be made by the auctioneer and only when the auction rules allow it. The auctioneer makes this statement before bidding starts and announces each vendor bid as, or before, it is made.

VENDORS STATEMENT – FORM 1 – Information which the seller must provide to the buyer advising of restrictions such as easements and outgoings such as rates, and any other notices such as a compulsory acquisition.

VENEER – Thin sheets of wood, brick or stone used to cover a framed wall.

VENT – A pipe or duct which lets air and gasses flow outdoors.

VERANDAH – A long covered porch.

VIRTUAL APPRAISAL – Simply where a Qualified Real Estate Agent assists in giving you a likely value estimate without physically being present in the property. See Link at Virtual Appraisal

VOID – Any cavity left within the construction of a building.

VOIDABLE – An agreement which can be made void at the option of one or both of the parties.


WAFFLE POD SLAB – (or Ribbed Raft Slab) – An engineered slab design featuring a grid of internal beams created around polystyrene pod formers. High strength and thermal efficiency.

WALKTHROUGH – The final home inspection before the handover.

WARRANTY – A written guarantee issued by the builder to the homeowner promising to repair or replace any qualified damage or defect within a specified period of time.

WASHABLE PAINT – Internal wall paint that can be lightly washed to remove grime and finger marks – not scrubbable.

WASTE PIPE – A plastic pipe that carries waste water from the house to the municipal sewage system.

WATER CLOSET – A room equipped with toilet fixtures and facilities.

WATER METER – A device that measures household water consumption; the water company uses this information to calculate your monthly charge.

WATER TABLE – The upper level of an underground surface permanently saturated with water. The water table is under groundwater zone and above the zone of aeration; it fluctuates from season to season, depending on climate and vegetation. Sometimes called groundwater table.

WEAR AND TEAR – The depreciation of an asset (property) due to the effects of everyday use.

WAIVER – The passing-by of an occasion to enforce a legal right, whereby the right to enforce the same is lost. It may be expressed or implied; expressed as a statement that a right is waived; implied, but conduct indicating an intention to abandon the right.

WALL CAVITY – The space between the inner and outer sections of a wall.

WATER CLOSET – A room equipped with toilet fixtures and facilities.

WEATHERBOARD – External wall sheeting formed with overlapping pieces of timber.

WEATHERSTRIPPING – The process of sealing openings such as doors and windows from the elements.

WEEP HOLES – Formed holes or openings placed in the brick joints of a masonry wall. Above the level of a flashing or at the bottom of a cavity to permit the drainage of any accumulated moisture or water. Weep holes may be installed in a retaining wall to drain water from behind the wall for relieving hydrostatic pressure.  Also found in storm window frames, in brickwork, the bottom of wall cavities, etc.

WIND LOAD – All forces on a building or structure caused by or imputed due to wind pressure, which have to be taken into account in the design of the structure. Most wind loads on dwellings are uplift loads on roofs.

WINDERS – Wedge shaped treads in a staircase landing.

WINDOW TREATMENTS –  Curtains, blinds, roller blinds, venetians, vertical drapes and so on usually staying with the property unless otherwise agreed.

WITHOUT RESERVE – An auction term signifying that a reserve price has not been set, such that the highest bid will prevail.

WORKERS LIEN – A  lien has the effect of a caveat.

WRAPPING – A type of contract where the property price and loan interest rates are usually well above the market rate. Penalties for defaulting can be severe. Such contracts should be entered into with caution. (It is recommended legal advice be sought before undertaking this form of purchase.


YARD – 1. Any part of a property surrounding or associated with a house or other residential structure. The yard in front of a house is referred to as a front yard, the area at the rear is known as a backyard.
2. A measure of length, equivalent to 0.9144 metres (based on the international yard).
3. An enclosure within which work or business is carried out on, usually with small improvements secondary to the main use, such as the display of vehicles in a car yard with small sales office.

YIELD – The derived percentage return of a property assessed from the net income and the market value or price. It is calculated by dividing the net income by the opening market value or price.


ZONING – A local planning tool to control the present and future development of land and its permissible use.

Z-PURLIN – A metal purlin with a cross section in the shape of the letter Z.

Please Note: (See Also Abbreviations)

Meanings vary between states & territories.
This Glossary of Real Estate Terms is provided for educational purposes, a courtesy & a service to you.
It does not replace advice from a Professional or Legal representative.
You are certainly invited to call, text, email us or make your own enquiries.

Are there any other real estate terms or property words you would like to know about?
Tell us what you want to know or others would find useful to add to this glossary.

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What else would YOU like to know about? What would make a great story?
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What can you TELL us about?
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Like most things in life, these are recommendations only, they may or may not suit your own circumstances.
Regards Eriks & Team 
Plaza Real Estate 

Got Questions? Ask us now…

Further information is available by calling Plaza Real Estate on 08 83961100.

Thanks to the following sources:
Atlas of South Australia, Australian Building Codes Board, Australian Bureau of Statistics, Australian Property Institute, Black’s Law Dictionary, Consumer & Business Services SA, Dictionary of Investment Terms from County Nat West, Home Loan Experts, Institutional Real Estate Inc., International Valuation Standards, Language and Culture of the Pension Real Estate Investment Market, Oxford Dictionary of Australian Investment Terms, Plaza Real Estate, Property Council of Australia, Property Words, Real Estate Institute of Australia, The Australian Financial Review, University of South Australia

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