Property and Conveyancing Terms Explained
Property lawyers often use legal terminology to describe the process of buying and selling a property. To help you understand the phrases used in residential conveyancing, we’ve compiled a guide to the terms you’re most likely to hear.
The completion date is 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.
Conveyancing is the process of legally transferring property ownership from one person to another.
Disbursements are the items your property solicitor must pay to others on your behalf, including Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT), Land Registry fees, VAT and search fees.
Easements are the 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
Exchange of contracts is the point in the property buying process when the contract becomes legally binding. To withdraw from the contract at this point would incur a heavy financial penalty.
Fixtures and fittings form
The fixtures and fitting form is completed by the seller to confirm what is included in the sale, for example, carpets, appliances, fitted cupboards and garden ornaments.
As a freeholder, you fully own the property and have full responsibility for its maintenance and repairs.
A full survey is more expensive than a valuation or a homebuyer survey but a full inspection of the property will be done by a surveyor.
Gazumping 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.
A homebuyer survey is a more detailed inspection than a valuation report, carried out by a surveyor, providing information about the condition and structure of the property, and including recommendations to review prior to exchanging contracts.
Land Registry/Land Registry fee
The Land Registry is 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 local authority search is 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.
A mining search shows whether there are old mine workings under the property.
Property information form
A property information form is 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 Land Tax (SDLT)
Stamp Duty is a government tax paid by buyers on completion of the property and based on the property value.
Title deeds are documents evidencing that the person selling the property actually owns it and also has the right to sell it.
Transfer deeds is the document signed by both the seller and buyer, and presented to the Land Registry by the buyer’s solicitor to change the name of the registered owner.
A valuation report is a basic survey that gives the surveyor’s view on the value of the property.
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