Lifetime ISA jargon buster

We’re here to guide you through the maze of house-hunting jargon!

Authored on
14 Jul 2023
Getting started
Read time
  3 minute read

The path to securing your first home can be quite the adventure, so instead of an ordinary alphabetical glossary, we'll take you on a chronological tour of the terminology, giving you a glimpse into the journey itself. 🏠🌟 


  1. Lifetime ISA (LISA) - Your trusty sidekick in the world of first-home savings. The LISA is a special type of Individual Savings Account designed for those aged 18–39 who want to save for their first home up to the value of £450,000 or retirement from age 60. Its 25% government bonus can make it a powerful tool to help supercharge your savings. 

  2. Government bonus – Everyone can do with a little boost, and the government has your back with the LISA. They offer a 25% bonus on payments made into your LISA, up to a maximum of £1,000 per tax year. It's like a generous reward for your savings efforts. 🏆 

  3. Tax year – In the realm of finances, the tax year is the period from 6 April to the following 5 April. It's an important timeframe to consider when managing your LISA payments and annual allowances. 

  4. LISA allowance – The LISA allowance is the maximum amount you can pay into your LISA during the tax year, currently set at £4,000. So, make sure you keep an eye on your allowance and make the most of it! 👀  

  5. Government withdrawal charge – If you take cash out of your LISA before the age of 60 or use your savings for something other than purchasing a first home, there's a 25% charge applied. That means you could end up taking out less than you paid in. It's a reminder that the LISA is exclusively for saving for your first home or your golden years, so plan your moves wisely. 

  6. Mortgage – The loan you take out to make that homeownership dream a reality. It's like that magical spell that opens the doors to your very own castle. 🏰 

  7. Mortgage lender – The guys that make it all possible. You can apply for your mortgage from a bank or building society (the lender) and get a special mortgage quote called an Agreement in Principle (AiP) that gives you a rough idea of how much you might be able to borrow. 

  8. Mortgage broker – Sometimes called a mortgage adviser, someone who helps you navigate the mortgage market, find the best deals, and secure that dream loan.  

  9. Deposit – The chunk of cash you pay upfront when purchasing a home. The more you put down as a deposit, the lower your loan to value ratio, or LTV. This is the ratio of what you borrow as a mortgage against how much you pay as a deposit and generally, the lower that ratio, the stronger position you’re in. 💰 

  10. Capital – And now the other side of the bargain, capital refers to the amount of money you're borrowing as part of your mortgage.  

  11. Repayments – The regular payments you make to the mortgage lender, including interest. Get ready to budget like a pro and keep up with these payments to keep your homeownership journey on track. 💸 

  12. Interest – The additional amount you pay on top of your mortgage capital. It's like the price you pay for the privilege of borrowing money, so make sure you do your research on current interest rates to get the best deal to suit you. You can get fixed or variable interest rates but it’s important to shop around to look for best deal for you – this is where a mortgage broker/adviser can help!  

  13. Guarantor – Someone that agrees to make mortgage payments on your behalf if, for any reason, you're unable to do so. It's usually a close family member and can help you secure a better borrowing deal. Teamwork makes the dream work! 

  14. Freehold – Ready to be the ruler of your own domain? Freehold ownership means you have complete ownership of the property and the land it sits on. It's like having the power to make all the decisions and take responsibility for maintaining your property. 👑 

  15. Leasehold – Leasehold ownership means you own the rights to a property for a set period, typically 99+ years. It's commonly associated with flats, where the freeholder takes care of maintenance of communal areas like stairways and the roof, and the leaseholder may have to pay a service charge for this. 

  16. Conveyancing – The process of transferring the property's ownership into your name. It involves a series of legal steps and paperwork to ensure a smooth and lawful transition. A conveyancer or solicitor specialising in conveyancing will guide you through the process. 

  17. Chain – In the housing world, a chain is not a fancy necklace, but refers to a series of buyers and sellers linked together, with each transaction dependent on the others. As a first-time buyer, you usually find yourself at the end of the chain, not having a property to sell. ⛓️ 

  18. Stamp duty – Nope, we’re not talking about the post. Stamp duty is a tax you pay when purchasing a property, like an entrance fee to the homeownership club. But here's some good news: as a first-time buyer, you're exempt from stamp duty if the property you're buying is £425,000 or less, and this figure will vary if you’re buying in Wales or Scotland.  

  19. Valuation – When your mortgage lender assesses the value of a property to check it’s worth what you’ve offered for it (and it’s not about to fall down!), and they’re happy to offer you a mortgage on it. 

  20. Survey – When a chartered professional checks the condition of a property and highlights any issues or concerns, mainly to make sure your potential home is free from hidden dangers. The more thorough the survey, the more it’s going to cost you. 👛 

  21. Exchange of contracts – So close! This is the last piece of paperwork before everything is final and you can go get the keys. You’ll be asked to put down the deposit at this stage and effectively sign on the dotted line. This is a formal step in the home-buying process and your conveyancer or solicitor will usually call you to seal the deal!  

  22. Completion – Drumroll, please! This is the grand finale, when all the legal stuff is sorted, contracts have been exchanged, and you finally get the keys to your new kingdom. 🗝 

Congrats! 🎉 You've made it through the jargon jungle of house-hunting. Armed with these newfound terms, you're ready to navigate the world of property ownership with confidence. 🚀 


Lifetime ISA jargon buster

Open a Dodl lifetime ISA today


If any of the information is unclear, don’t hesitate to contact Team Dodl through the app with any questions. Just remember though, Dodl doesn’t give advice, so if you're unsure about investing or whether the lifetime ISA is for you, you should talk to a financial adviser. 🔔

It's important to know

You have to be a UK resident for tax purposes to open an account with Dodl.

The past performance of investments isn't an indicator of their future performance and their value can go down as well as up. This means you could get back less than you originally invested. 

Dodl doesn’t offer any advice so if you’re not sure about the risks involved with investing, you should speak to a suitable financial adviser. 

How you're taxed depends on your circumstances, and tax rules can change in future.

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