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A-Z Glossary

Take a look at the glossary for the free, online course ''Pathways to Property'.

This glossary includes definitions of key property-related words and phrases. You may find it helpful to bookmark this Step, or print a copy of the glossary out, so you can look up any unfamiliar words as you work through the course. This glossary is a work in progress, so if there’s anything you think is missing, let us know in the comments and we’ll add them to the Step for next time.



Augmented Reality (AR): Embedding digital information alongside the user’s environment in real time. Unlike virtual reality, which constructs an artificial environment, augmented reality uses the existing environment and overlays new information on top of it.


Building Information Modelling (BIM): A digital model of a building that integrates a range of information and data to give building and real estate professionals tools to plan, design, construct, and manage buildings and related infrastructure.


Computer Generated Images (CGI): In real estate this term means the production of images of a property using computer software for presentation to potential clients before its completion.

(Economic) Cluster: A network of connected businesses, suppliers, and associates in a particular field or economic sector that are all located in the same geographical area. Clusters are claimed to increase economic efficiency and productivity.

Contract: A legally enforceable agreement between two or more parties. Contracts are used in many areas of real estate, such as investment and financing, land purchase, construction and leasing.


Financial Appraisal: The analysis of the financial returns and costs of property investment and/or development.

Financialisation: The process by which financial institutions and financial markets increase in size and influence.

Financial Flows: The movement of money for the purpose of investment, trade or business production, both between and within companies and often through global city networks.

Financial Institution: Organisations that process monetary transactions, including business and private loans, customer deposits, and investments. In real estate it is the term applied to organisations that provide long-term investment finance for property and include insurance companies, pension funds and investment trusts.

Forward Funding: The term given to the method of development finance which involves a financial institution agreeing to provide short-term development finance and to purchase the completed property as an investment on completion.


Gentrification: The process of urban renewal and rebuilding leading to the influx of more affluent people into deteriorating areas that often displaces poorer residents.

Globalisation: A process by which national and regional economies, societies and cultures have become integrated through global networks of trade, communication, migration and transportation.


Internationalisation: Process of globalisation for specific economic sectors, like real estate, in which firms move from national to international operations.

Intelligent Cities: Similar concept to ‘smart cities’ (see below) but with more emphasis on the use of technology and information to provide targeted and adaptive services and information.


Joint Venture (JV): A separate business entity created by two or more parties, involving a sharing of ownership, risks and returns.


Knowledge-Based Economy: Term used to describe trends in advanced economies towards greater dependence on knowledge, information and high skill levels, and the increasing need for ready access to all of these by the business and public sectors.


Legacy: A term used to describe the longer-term benefits and effects of the planning, funding, building and staging of major sporting events, like the London Olympics in 2012.

Lease: A legal agreement by which the owner of a building or a piece of land allows someone else to use it for a specific period and under specified conditions, in return for periodic rental or lease payments.

Long Term Funding: Funds, often provided by financial institutions, to enable developers to repay their short-term borrowing/loan and either realise their profit via selling or retain the property as an investment.


Networked Cities: A collection of cities that operate as nodes of a world economic network, facilitated by the growth of telecommunications and the Internet.


Owner Occupier: A person, company or organisation that owns the property that they use for residential, commercial or other purposes.


Privatisation: The transfer from public or government control or ownership to private enterprise. It can apply to land, buildings, funding or services.

Property-Led Regeneration: The regeneration of an area by changing its image, improving the environment, attracting private investment and improving business confidence for further investment. In many cases, it involves ‘flagship’ projects such as at Canary Wharf in the London Docklands.

Public Realm: The space around, between and within buildings that is publicly accessible, including streets, squares, parks and open spaces.

Public Private Partnership (PPP): An arrangement where a government institution and a profit-making company invest in and/or work on an activity together. It covers a wide range of geographical scales (individual buildings to global operations) and a continuum of legal and institutional forms (from informal understandings to joint companies). PPP is often used as a means of regenerating urban and rural areas.


Short Term Funding: Money used to pay for the initial development costs (ie purchase of land, construction costs, professional fees and promotion costs) and often provided as a bank loan, secured on the property.

Smart Cities: An urban area that uses different types of electronic data collection sensors to supply information used to manage assets and resources efficiently.

Sustainable Development: The classic definition provided by the Brundtland Report is “development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs”. It emphasises the integration (via win-win outcomes) of environmental, economic and social policy objectives and contains a continuum of ecological ideas from ‘light’ to ‘dark’ green.


Tender: A formal offer to supply goods or to do a particular job, and a statement of the price that the bidder will charge. If a contract is put out to tender, formal offers are invited, often with a detailed brief and sometimes with a ‘guide price’.

Tenant: A person, company or organisation who rents or leases a residential or commercial building from the owner, who operates as the landlord.

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