Glossary of Terms


Annualised average percentage rate, sometimes referred to as the comparison rate. This figure takes into account all the costs associated with the loan and is used to compare loan products.


A written report of the estimated value of a property, usually prepared by a valuer.


An increase in value.

Basic variable

A variable home loan at a lower rate with fewer features than a standard variable home loan.

Break costs

The fees incurred when a loan is paid off ahead of time.

Body corporate

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

Bridging finance

A short- term loan used to bridge the gap between buying a new property and selling an existing one.

Building approvals

The number of dwellings approved to be constructed in a given month, quarter or year.

Capital gain

The amount by which your property has increased relative to what you had paid for it. Simplistically, if you bought a property for $200,000 and it is now worth $350,000, you’ve made a capital gain of $150,000.

Cash rate/bank rate

The cash is the rate of which the reserve bank of Australia sets interest rates. It’s currently 4.5 percent. The bank rate is the interest rates that banks offer and is above the cash rate to allow for a profit margin.

Cash flow positive

You have a cash flow positive investment if the incomings are more than your outgoings after tax- deductible items have been claimed. You receive more rent than your mortgage repayments, plus you are still ahead after taking into account items, such as interest on the loan maintenance, insurance, land tax, rates, etc.

CGT (capital gains tax)

The tax you pay when you sell an investment property if you’ve made a profit.


The process that legally transfers property ownership from one entity to another.

Cooling-off period

A period of time given to the purchaser to legally withdraw from buying a property. The length of time varies in each of the states and territories.

Cross-securitisation/cross collateralization

When the financial institution uses your property (whether owner-occupied or investment) as security for other property you purchase.


Failure to pay a debt by the due date.


The level of occupancy in a given area, or the number of people permitted to reside in an area. For example, inner-city areas are usually higher density than outer-suburban areas.


The decrease in value of an item (e.g. a building) over time.


The difference between your mortgage and your property’s value. If your home is worth $400,000 and you owe $150,000, then you have equity of $250,000.

Fixed rates

Where home loan is locked in at a specific interest rate for a specified term, usually one to five years.


Only repaying the interest charged on your mortgage and not paying off any of the principal or amount owing.

Joint tenants

Each owner has equal shares and rights in the property.

LMI (lenders mortgage insurance)

Usually required by lenders when you’re borrowing more than 80 percent of the property’s value. It provides insurance to the lender in case the borrower defaults on the loan.

LOC (line of credit)

A facility available from financial institutions that gives you a credit limit that you can draw down anytime. It’s similar to a credit card except you don’t have to make set repayments of the principal.

Low-doc loans

Relatively new, these are loans that don’t require as much documentation to set up. They are popular with self- employed people and those who have not yet established a credit rating.

Lower quartile

The price point below which 5 percent of sales were recorded. If there were 100 sales in a suburb, the 25th lowest price would be the lower quartile price.

LVR (loan-to-value ratio)

To calculate it, divide the loan amount by the value of the property, then multiply by 100 to get a percentage. Banks and financial institutions use this as a measure of whether you can afford the loan.


The median house price is the middle price of all sales recorded in a particular suburb, postcode, city or state. If there were 100 sales in a particular suburb in ascending order, the median would be number 50 on the list. It’s commonly assumed that the median price is the same as the average price but that’s not the case. To calculate the average, you would add up the 100 sales and divide the total by 100 (the number of sales).

Negatively geared

This is where the incomings are less than your outgoings after all tax reductions have been claimed. For example, you receive rent on a property of $600 a month, but your mortgage repayments are $900 a month. Your shortfall is $300 a month, which you claim as a loss when doing your tax return. Many people on high incomes use negative gearing to reduce their taxable income.

O & A (offer and acceptance) form

When you make an offer to purchase a property you sign one of these forms. When the owner accepts the offer, it becomes a binding contract.


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

Passed in

When the highest bid at an auction doesn’t meet the reserve price set on the property. In effect, the property does not sell at the auction.

Portfolio (as in property portfolio)

The number and type of investments you own.

Positively geared

This occurs when the investment income exceeds your interest expense (and other possible deductions). For example, the rent you receive may be $1000 a month, but the monthly repayments are only $750 a month. You can also receive additional tax benefits on any income derived from a positively geared investment.


Principal place of residence.


Price on application. You may see this in a real estate advertisement.

Principal and interest

The amount borrowed or still to be repaid, plus the interest on the mortgage. The principal is part of the repayment that reduces the balance of the mortgage.

Property cycle

Property values usually follow a cycle of growth, a slowdown, a bust and an upturn. History shows this occurs every 7 to 10 years.


To obtain new finance for something on different terms, usually involving the paying off of an existing loan by means of a new (and often cheaper) loan.

Reverse mortgage

Designed for seniors who are asset-rich (usually with their PPOR) but cash-poor. The facility allows them to access the equity in their homes without having to sell it. Most often the loan is not paid, or until the borrower dies, moves into a nursing home or relocates.

Rental yields (and calculations)

The return on an investment as a percentage of the amount invested. Gross rental yield can be calculated by multiplying the weekly rent by 52 (weeks in a year) and then dividing by the value of this property and multiplying this figure by 100 to get the percentage.

Reserve price

The minimum amount a seller will accept at an auction.

Sold under the hammer

This means a property that goes to auction sells at the auction.


Whether or not you can manage your mortgage payments, based on your income and expenses.

Stamp duty

A state government tax on the transfer of a property calculated on the value of a property.

Strata title

Also known as unit title. This title grants ownership of a section or a ‘unit’ of a larger building. This ‘unit’ can be sold or transferred by the owner.


A parcel of land.

Supply and Demand

The number of properties on the market at any given time determines the supply-and- demand equation. If there are lots of properties on the market, it’s a buyer’s market. If there are few properties on the market or those that come to the market sell quickly, then it’s a seller’s market.

Tenants in common

Two or more buyers own a property with unequal shares and rights.

Upper quartile

The price point below which 75 percent of sales were recorded. If there were 100 sales in a suburb, the 25th highest price would be the upper quartile.

Vacancy rates

A measure of how many dwellings are available for rent over a specified time period. A low vacancy rate means there are not very many dwellings available for rent, while a high vacancy rate means there is an ample supply of vacant properties.


The seller.

Vendor’s terms

Refers to instances when a property owner is prepared to offer buyer finance or other assistance, such as staged payments to assist with the purchase of the property (also known as wrapping).


The return by an investor on an investment, shown as a percentage of the amount invested.