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Glossary Of Conveyancing Terms

Legal jargon can be really confusing. We hope you find our Glossary of Conveyancing Terms useful. None of the following should be construed as formal or proper legal advice.


Chain

A chain is a linked list of property transactions which depend on each other. If a link in the chain breaks (for example, a buyer pulls out) then the whole chain becomes broken until that link is restored. One end of the chain may be a person who is buying a property, but has nothing to sell, and the other end of the chain may be someone selling a propery, but with nothing to buy.

The Completion Date

This is the date where the person(s) buying a property become it's legal owner and every transaction related to the Sale or Purchase of the property are also completed.

The Completion Statement

Just like a bank statement, this is a document which itemises all of the financial transactions associated with the Sale / Purchase.

The Conditions of Sale

The Conditions of Sale form part of the Contract of Sale. They stipulate the detailed terms by which the seller and buyer agree to arrive at completion.

The Deposit

This is an amount of money (typically 10% of the purchase price) which is paid by the buyer to the seller. The deposit is paid on exchange of contracts. The buyer and seller may agree a different amount between them and their solicitors.

Conveyancing Disbursements

Your solicitor will charge you a "Legal Fee" for their professional services. But there are other items that will need to be paid for as part of the conveyancing process. These additional items are known as "Disbursements". These include items such as "Land Registry Fees" and "Search Fees". Your solicitor will take care of these for you, but the costs must be met by you.

The Exchange of Contracts

This is the point where the Sale or Purchase transaction becomes legally binding. All solicitors effectively swap contracts with each other right through the chain. Once contracts have exchanged you are legally bound to buy / sell the property according to the terms of the contract(s).

The Fixtures and Fittings Form

This form tells your buyer what is and is not included with the sale of the property. This form must be filled in accurately. Any error in this form could result in your buyer making a legal claim against you.

Freehold

"Freehold" describes one of two possible tenures of a property. The dictionary definition is "Permanent and absolute tenure of land or property with freedom to dispose of it at will"

Leasehold

"Leasehold" the other of the two possible tenures of a property. The land on which the property sits is leased (rented) from the owner of that land for a certain number of years (for example 99 years). Your solicitor can and should fully describe the implications of this to you if you purchase a "leasehold" property. You will usually have to pay an annual ground-rent to the freeholder (the land owner) in this circumstance.

The practice of Gazumping

This is the frowned-upon practice whereby a seller accepts an offer from one buyer (who may well begin spending money on searches etc.) and then accepts another offer from another buyer. This is typically where the new buyer makes a better offer, or can complete more quickly. Until contracts are exchanged, there is no legal obligation for the seller to see the sale through to completion with any particular party.

The practice of Gazundering

This is the frowned-upon practice whereby a buyer suddenly makes a lower offer for the property to the seller (usually just before the Exchange of Contracts). The seller is usually under a lot of pressure to accept this offer to prevent the chain from collapsing.

The Land Registry Fees

All changes of land ownership in England and Wales are registered with the H.M. Land Registry offices (there is a similar system in Scotland). There is a fee for registering each transaction.

Mortgage

A mortgage is a loan made by a bank or financial instituation to enable a person to purchase or part-purchase a property. The property will act as security for the mortgage, meaning that if the terms of the loan are broken by you then your lender may reposess your property.

Your Mortgage Deed

This is the legal document providing evidence that the mortgage lender owns a charge on the property.

The Mortgage Valuation

Your mortgage lender will send a surveyor to carry out an inspection on the property for which you require a mortgage. The purpose of this survey is to ensure that the value of the property offers suitable security to the mortgage lender against the value of the loan.

The Redemption Amount

This is the amount payable to your mortgage lender to redeem the mortgage in full.

Searches

These are enquiries that are made with third parties with respect to the purchase property. These can include Environmental, Water and Drainage, Coal Board and Local Authority searches.

Stamp Duty / Land Tax (SDLT)

This a tax which must be paid to H.M Revenue & Customs on certain property transactions. The official information can be found here.

The term "Subject to Contract"

This is where the buyer and seller have provisioanlly agreed to a transaction, but it is not yet legally binding because the contracts have not been exchanged.

Your Solicitor

A solicitor specialises in (and is licenced to practice) law. Your solicitor will execute the process known as "conveyancing" which will bring about the legal transfer of ownership (the conveyance) of property from one person to another.

Surveys

This is a propery inspection which is carried out by a Chartered Surveyor. These surveys can range from "superficial" (suitable for newer properties) to "extensive" (recommended for older / suspect properties!). The purpose of this survey is to find and reveal any strutural problems with a property to the buyer before exchange of contracts. Items of interest may include: subsidence, bowing walls, dry rot, wet rot, damp, damage to load bearing walls or joists etc.

The Title

Generally, "Title" is a legal term to describe a package of rights in property. The title describes a legal interest in property, either in full or in part. The rights in the package may be split and held by different parties. The package will typically reference a legal document, such as a deed, which constitutes proof of ownership. This would be the "Title Deed". Conveyance of this document is usually required to transfer ownership in the property from the holding person to a new person. This process is known as conveyancing.

Be aware that title is different to ownership or posession. Title is a right that often comes with ownership but it is sometimes insufficient to prove ownership. However, this is unlikely to be a concern with most residential house sales in the UK. It is sometimes the case that the ownership and title are transferred seperately. For tangible, physical property - such as a house or a peice of land, land registration usually provides the public notice of ownership.

The Transfer Document

The "Transfer Document" is the legal document which transfers legal ownership of the property from the one party to the other.

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