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Legal terms explained

Property lawyers often use different terms to describe the process of buying and selling a house. To help you understand the phrases used in residential conveyancing, we’ve compiled a guide to those you’re most likely to hear.

Completion date

The day that the sale and purchase of the property is finalised. The buyer pays the balance of the purchase price before receiving the keys from the estate agent, and the deeds are handed over to the buyer or their solicitor.


The process of legally transferring property ownership from one person to another.


Items your property solicitor must pay to others on your behalf, including stamp duty, Land Registry fees, VAT and search fees.


Rights to which a property may be subject to or may enjoy; such as a right of way across land owned by another person or rights
to light.

Exchange of contracts

The point in the house buying process when the contract becomes legally binding. To withdraw from the contract at this point would incur a heavy financial penalty.

Fixtures + fittings form

A form completed by the seller to confirm what is included in the sale, for example, carpets, fitted cupboards and garden ornaments.


As a freeholder, you fully own the property and have full responsibility for its maintenance and repairs.

Full Survey

More expensive than a valuation or a homebuyers report but a full inspection of the property will be done by a surveyor.


This occurs when the seller accepts a higher offer from a second buyer just before contracts are exchanged with the first buyer. Similarly, gazundering occurs when the buyer demands a price reduction just before contracts are exchanged.

Home buyers report

A detailed inspection than a valuation report, carried out by a surveyor, providing information about the condition and structure of the property, and recommendations to review prior to exchanging contracts.

Land Registry/Land Registry fee

A government department that holds data on registered properties in England and Wales. The Land Registry charges a fee, according to property price, for transferring the register to the new owners.


As a leaseholder, you own the property for as long as is specified in the lease. At the end of the lease, the property returns to being the possession of the freeholder.

Local authority search

A request to the local authority to provide any information they have relating to the area around the property, including planning entries, new road builds or property development.

Mining search

A search to show whether there are old mine workings under the property.

Property information form

A form completed by the seller at the start of the transaction, which includes information relating to boundaries, neighbour disputes and changes to the property.

Stamp Duty

A government tax paid by buyers on completion of the property and based on the property value.

Title deeds

Document evidencing that the person selling the property actually owns it and also has the right to sell it.

Transfer deeds

The document signed by both seller and buyer and presented to the Land Registry by the buyer’s solicitor to change the name of the registered owner.

Valuation report

A basic survey that gives the surveyors view on the value of the property.

Further information

For a free quote, complete our short form. Our charges are transparent and we quote for all fees and disbursements up front, meaning that you’ll understand the full extent of your conveyancing charges from the very start.

Alternatively call us on 0117 325 2929 or complete our online enquiry form.

You can also find a range of helpful factsheets on our downloads page.

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