What’s the Name of that Legal Thingy When You Buy a House?

Paul Hajek | 15 Nov 2012

We’ve updated this post with a SlideShare presentation.


legal jargon when buying a houseConveyancing Solicitors have a tendency to be rather blasé with their use of jargon. After all some of us are only human.

Some Conveyancing Solicitors promise to speak in Plain English (we at Clutton Cox do at least); other Conveyancing Solicitors may yet wallow in the odd “hereinbefore” and “aforesaid mentioned”.

If you are embarking on a sale or purchase here is a little help with all the terminology.

So for viewers at home only, here goes:

Agreement:   Another word for the Contract of Sale.

Caveat Emptor:   Only bit of Latin, we promise: “Let the Buyer Beware”

Chancel Repair Liability: Ancient law which is still around. Turns out that one is our specialised subject. Pop on over to our blog “Chancel Repair Liability: The Full Monty

Client Care Letter:  Your agreement with your Conveyancing Solicitor, detailing how much you will pay, how you will be treated and what to do if you have any problems or complaints.

Completion:  The legal formality of paying over the balance of purchase monies in return for a signed Transfer Deed on the Completion Date.

Completion Date:  The date in the Contract when possession of the property is given by the Seller to the Buyer in return for any balance of the purchase price a.k.a. ‘Hand over of Keys’ day.

Contract for Sale:  A legal document which sets out the terms of the sale and purchase of the property.

Contract Rate:  A penalty rate of interest payable by either the seller or the buyer if the Conveyancing transaction does not complete on the Completion Date.

Conveyance:  The old name for a deed transferring ownership of property from a seller to a buyer. Now called a Transfer  

Conveyancing Calculator: Easy to use and free quotation tool. Try the Clutton Cox Online Conveyancing Calulator

Covenant:   A legal obligation or restriction affecting a property.

CQS:            Conveyancing Quality Scheme a new kite mark for Conveyancing Law firms.

Deposit:  A sum of money usually 10% of the Purchase Price paid by the buyer to the Seller’s solicitor on exchange of contract. Non refundable if the Buyer does not proceed to completion day.

Disbursements:  Payments made by your Conveyancing Solicitors to Third Parties but payable by you.

Easement:  A right benefiting one property over another such as a right of way.

Exchange of Contracts:  Literally, the exchange of a signed contract by the Seller and the Buyer confirming a legally binding contract to buy and sell a property.

Fixtures Fittings and Contents Form:  What the Seller has agreed to sell to the Buyer either be included in the sale price or in addition.
Freehold:  Absolute Ownership which lasts until you decide to sell, as opposed to Leasehold which is time restricted. Freehold land can have benefits of rights and be subject to covenants

Gazumping:  Where a Seller refuses to authorise his Conveyancing Solicitor to exchange contracts on the basis that a newer and higher offer for the property has been received.

Gazundering:  Where a Buyer decides to reduce his offer at the last minute, pressurising Seller to accept lower offer or risk sale falling through.

Land Registry:  Also known as HM Land Registry Is the Government office charged with authenticating sales of property and transferring
into the Buyers name.

Leasehold:  Ownership which is time dependent and subject to more restrictions and obligations e.g. flats are leasehold.

Local Search:  Answers given by a Local Authority from their data and records to a list of standard questions about a property including for example, financial charges, highways and planning history.

Mortgage:  Literally, “death pledge”, but now a deed secured on a property to ensure payment to the Lender.

Official Copies:  Official copies of registered title to a property from the Land Registry.

PIF: “Property Information Form”: A questionnaire in standard form completed by the Seller which gives information about the property.

Redemption Figure:  The repayment of an existing mortgage on a property.

Registered Land:  Property (freehold and leasehold) where proof of ownership and matters affecting the property have been authenticated (registered) by the Government Department known as the Land Registry.

Solicitors Costs:  Strange lot, we solicitors, it actually refers to Solicitors’ fees payable for the Conveyancing transaction.

Stamp DutyStamp Duty Land Tax, a punitive tax paid by the Buyer to the Government on the purchase of a Property.

Survey:  An independent report carried out on a property for the Buyer detailing any defects, which may include a valuation of the property.

Transfer Deed A new title deed transferring the property from the Seller to the Buyer. Used instead of a Conveyance nowadays.

Unregistered Land:  Property (freehold and leasehold) not yet registered at the Land Registry where proof of ownership and matters affecting the property will be determined by inspection of the Title Deeds.

Valuation:  If you take out a mortgage, the Lender verifies the price is a fair market value. Not to be confused with a Survey.

Vendor and Purchaser:  A bit old fashioned now, we prefer Seller and Buyer of the property.

Z:   Z is shorthand for Zzzzzzzz the peaceable sleep you will enjoy when your instruct Clutton Cox to carry out your Conveyancing


Paul Hajek


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