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Conveyancing Legal Terms Explained


If you’re buying or selling a property, you’ll probably hear many different legal terms that we, as conveyancers, often don’t realise we’re using.

If you’re new to buying or selling a property or if you’ve not done it for a long time, these explanations could help.

They are in alphabetical order, so it should be easy to find the term you're looking for.

Completion This is the day you can move into your property if you are buying, and the day you must move out if you are selling. The balance of the purchase price is paid on completion.

Deposit  This really shouldn’t be that complicated but there are different explanations of the term ‘deposit’. A solicitor will say this is the proportion of the purchase price, usually 10%, which is paid to the seller on exchange of contracts. House builders sometimes use deposit to describe money paid to secure the right to buy a property being built and banks or building societies call the deposit the difference between the purchase price and the mortgage.

Estate Agent  A firm that markets the property for the owner. They will advertise the property and arrange property viewings for prospective buyers. Estate agents charge the seller for this service, which is usually a percentage of the sale price.

Exchange of Contracts  Your solicitor will exchange contracts for you. Once contracts are exchanged, a legal contract is in place and you are now committed to buy the property. If you withdraw now, you may have to pay a heavy financial penalty. The seller is also committed and will also have to pay a penalty if they withdraw.

Fixtures and Fittings Form  If you are selling your property, you’ll need to complete this form. This will give the buyer more information about what is included in the sale. For example, carpets, garden ornaments and fitted cupboards. Fixtures are assumed to be included but it’s always worth confirming. Fittings, such as curtains, are not but can be.

Gazumping When a seller has accepted an offer from a buyer but before contracts are exchanged, accepts a higher offer from someone else. 

Gazundering  When a buyer demands a price reduction just before exchange of contracts or they will not exchange.

Home Buyers Survey  A detailed survey, carried out by a surveyor, giving more information about the structure of a property than is given by the mortgage company in a simple valuation survey.

Land Registry  The government organisation that holds details of who owns registered property in England and Wales.

Mortgage  A long term loan to buy a home. It is repaid by monthly instalments usually over 25 to 40 years.

Mortgage Offer  This is an offer from a mortgage company saying how much they are willing to lend you. This must be in writing.

Property Information Form  This is a form completed by sellers. They give more information about the property and will include any neighbour disputes, any work completed on the property and boundary ownership.

Redemption Penalty  This is a charge made by a mortgage company if you repay your mortgage early and there could be high penalties in the first few years of a mortgage. Penalties can be up to six months of payments.

Stamp Duty  This is a tax paid to the government by buyers on completion. The higher the value of the property, the more stamp duty you’ll pay. You’ll also pay more if you already own another property. You can read more on the GOV.UK website.

Survey  This is a report about the structure and condition of a property and is paid for by the buyer. The more expensive the survey, the more detailed it will be. This reflects the time spent by the surveyor at the property. need this as well as Home Buyers Survey above?

Unregistered property  Some properties are not yet registered with the Land Registry and the old deeds are used to provide evidence of ownership.   Conveyancing will involve the solicitors going through the old deeds for the property.

Valuation Report  The cheapest type of survey that does little more than give the surveyor‘s view of the value of the property.

We hope you’ve found the explanations of conveyancing terms useful.

If you have any questions about buying or selling a property or you'd like a fixed price quote, please give us a call on 0117 926 4121 or make a Free Online Enquiry.