Conveyancing terms

Solicitors and Estate Agents use many different terms during the process of buying and selling a house. We have put together a conveyancing glossary to help guide you through this legal jargon.

Click on each heading below to expand it for a definition:

Often there is a line of people who are selling and buying property at the same time and this is called a chain. The number of people involved in a chain can vary, and can sometimes have an affect on the length of time a house sale or purchase takes to go through. We will always try to acheive your requirements.

This is the point at which the sale and/or purchase is completed and keys to the property are released.

The contract is the agreement to buy and sell a property. There are two copies of the contract, one that is signed by the buyer and the other, which is signed by the seller. Once the contracts have been exchanged there is a legally binding agreement.

This is term for the legal work that is undertaken in the sale and/or purchase of a property.

The title deed is a legal document which sets out who owns the property. Tha majority of these are now computerised.

These are payments to a third party that you would have to pay when buying and/or selling a property; these include searches, stamp duty and land registraion fees.

When you own a freehold property, it means you own the whole of the property and the ground upon which it is built outright. Most houses tend to be owned on a freehold basis, whereas flats tend to be leasehold.

Until the contracts have been signed and exchanged, either party involved in the transaction can pull out of the process at anytime.

If a seller decided to pull out and sell to another buyer who may be making a better offer for the property, this is called "Gazumping"

If you own your home as joint tenants then both of you own the whole of the property. If one owner dies, the other automatically becomes the sole owner of the home.

The Land registry is where properties and land are registered. There are several offices across England and Wales, which serve particular areas.

This usually applies to flats. A leasehold property is where a Freeholder grants or has granted the exclusive right to occupy a property for a fixed period of time and normally charges a ground rent. At the end of the lease the freeholder is entitled to the return of the property and land.

If you have a communal area surrounding your property, e.g. a common drive or garden, or have a flat, then you may have to pay a maintenance charge for its up keep.

There are various searches that need to be done when you are purchasing a property, these include local searches from the Local Authority, the land registry search, environment search and a water board search.

There may be other searches to be done depending on where the property you want to buy is situated. Your solicitor will advise you if any special searches are required.

Stamp duty is an amount that is payable to the Inland Revenue on the whole of the purchase price of a property.

You pay Stamp Duty Land Tax on properties such as houses and flats, as well as other buildings and land. If the purchase price is under £125,000 you don't pay Stamp Duty Land Tax. 

If the property you are looking to purchase is more than £125,000, you pay between one and five per cent of the whole purchase price and this is calculated on a sliding scale.

Being tenants in common means that if you have purchased a house with somebody else and you each own a share of the property. That share is determined at the time of purchase although it can be varied at a later date. If one owner should die, then that share will pass via the deceased's will rather than automatically passing to the co-owner.  If you own a property as Tennants in common, it is important that you make a will, we can help you with this also. 

This is given to the person/persons who have the right to and owns the property.

This is a basic assessment on the general condition of the property carried out by the mortgage lender and helps to assess if the property is worth the price you may be paying for it. You can carry out a more detailed survey at your discretion such as a home condition report or structural survey.

This is Value Added Tax, payable on sums of money and currently is at a rate of 20% usually payable on professional fees.

The Vendor is the person who is selling the property.


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