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.

Completion date

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.

Full survey

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.

Homebuyer report/survey

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.

Mining search

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

Title deeds are documents evidencing that the person selling the property actually owns it and also has the right to sell it.

Transfer deeds

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.

Valuation report

A valuation report is a basic survey that gives the surveyor’s view on the value of the property.

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  • "Thanks so much for all your hard work, Farah, especially the last minute cost change. We’re thrilled we managed to win that one and, in a large part, down to your advice and confidence that we could make a difference there."
    JackResidential Conveyancing Client
  • "Kim and Abigail... not sure where to start! You have been incredible and supportive and the best solicitors I could have hoped for. You went above and beyond to create what was one of the best days of my life on Friday! I have a home and my daughter had a roof over her head in time for Christmas.

    Sat here very emotional writing this because I’ve never actually met you, yet what you have done is so amazing!"
    AnonResidential Conveyancing Client
  • "Just a little note to say a massive thank you for all you did for us to make the sale and purchase actually happen! Thanks also for all the advice and reassurances you gave us."
    Abi and TimResidential Conveyancing Clients
  • "Thank you again for all of your help throughout our sale and purchase. I’m really glad that Barcan+Kirby were recommended to us and we will definitely recommend you in the future.

    You in particular (Anca) have been fantastic and we both really appreciate what you have done to get things through for us quickly. Even though the stamp duty holiday has been extended, your hard work would have saved us thousands of pounds."
    Rob and LianaResidential Conveyancing Clients
  • "We wanted to email to thank you for everything you (Holly) and Hattie did for us. We really appreciated your professionalism and guidance during the purchase of our first home. We would not hesitate to recommend your services to anyone in need of a conveyancing services."
    Jo and RoryResidential Conveyancing Client