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Conveyancing Glossary

Explaining the legal jargon

No matter how many times you have been through it, the process of buying or selling property can be very confusing. Both first time buyers and experienced property investors are likely to come across terms that are only used in conveyancing. We are here to help make this process smoother, so that you can understand what's happening at each step. Do call us if you need help: 0207 406 5880.

glossary of conveyancing terms


A contract.


A formal document passing ownership of a property from the deceased owner to the beneficiary.


When transfer of ownership is passed between people, often for a leasehold property.

Basic Fee

How much the solicitor will charge. We charge a fixed-fee rate so you don’t need to budget for any costly surprises later.

Breach of Contract

When one party pulls out of the conveyancing process before completion. This usually gives the non-defaulting party the chance to legally seek compensation.

Bridging Loan

If there is a delay between the sale of an old property and the purchase of a new one, the buyer can take out a temporary but expensive loan.


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Brine Search

This search will determine if a property could be affected by previous brine pumping or mining in the area. It is necessary in parts of Cheshire and Manchester.


Where the property’s land extends to as shown in the deed or blueprint.

Building Insurance

This is compulsory, particularly for those taking out a mortgage. Once you exchange contracts and become the official owner of the property, you will need to ensure it is paid. It will need to cover the cost of rebuilding the property if needed.

Caviat Emptor

Sometimes called ‘Buyer Beware’, this means that you, as the buyer, are responsible for finding out everything about the property with the help of a surveyor and you buy it ‘as seen’.


When one or more parties needs to sell their property before the purchase of another goes through. When there are many ‘links’ in the chain, the conveyancing process can take a while to complete.

CHAPS Transfer

The Clearing Houses Automated Payment System is the most common way of paying the remaining balance of the property purchase price by an electronic transfer between banks.


Any items such as furniture that are included in the house price. These are common in Probate properties and will be listed in the house’s Fixtures, Fittings and Contents form.

Client Care Letter

The formal contract between you and your solicitor, including a breakdown of the services and cost.

Coal Mining Search

A conveyancing search to find out if any previous coal mining activity will affect the structure of your new property. Particularly important in places like Wales where mining was popular.

Common Registration Search

A search to discover if the property is registered as common land, meaning that a council may have third party rights to the land.

Completion Date

The legal date when the conveyancing process ends and the title deeds and keys to the property have exchanged hands.

Completion Statement

A legal document giving a financial breakdown of the property purchase including conveyancer’s fees, disbursements and VAT.

Conservation Area

An area which is protected by a local authority. Your conveyancer will apply for searches to find out if your property has any planning restrictions due to being in a conservation area.

Contract Race

When two offers have been accepted by the seller and the first to complete conveyancing and exchange contracts will ‘win’ the property.


The process of legally transferring a property title deed from one person to another by a licensed solicitor.


Licensed Conveyancers are regulated by the CLC (Council of Licensed Conveyancers), defined as “a specialist property lawyer qualified in all aspects of property law in England and Wales. A licensed conveyancer is also a Commissioner of Oaths and an increasing number are also licensed to offer probate services. ”

Conveyancing Solicitor

Solicitors are Regulated by the SRA (Solicitors Regulation Authority) and the Law Society. A Conveyancing Solicitor is a Solicitor who has chosen to specialise in property legal work or property law (commercial or residential).

Council for Licensed Conveyancers (CLC)

The governing body in charge of licensing and regulating conveyancers.


A clause in your contract that details any obligations or restrictions to the property. These may be positive or negative.


The legal documentation indicating the owner or mortgagees of a property.

Deed of Variation

A legal document listing changes to an existing deed.


A percentage of the agreed property price, usually 10%, paid to the seller via the conveyancer to secure the purchase.


Fixed costs for searches which are passed onto you by your conveyancing solicitor or licensed conveyancer.

DIY Conveyancing

‘Do it Yourself Conveyancing’ is when someone tries to undertake the process of conveyancing by themselves. This is not usually recommended as it can prove risky and complicated. You can read more on the Homeward Legal website.

Drainage Search

A property search which will find out if a property is affected by nearby sewers.

Environmental Search

A search to indicate if any local environmental issues will affect the property.


The difference between the value of the property and the amount of mortgage payable.

Exchange of Contracts

The legally binding moment when contracts are signed and exchanged through each party’s conveyancing solicitor.

Expedition Fee

An extra fee paid to the Land Registry to move registration along quicker.

Failed Valuation Survey

When the mortgage lender turns down your application after seeing the survey.

Fixtures, Fittings & Contents Form

Lists all the extras included in the price of the property. This is provided by the seller’s conveyancing solicitor and needs to be signed by the buyer.

Flying Freehold

In the example of a flat, part of the property is built on another, and if the floors or land below are owned by someone else, the flat is said to be ‘flying’.


When the owner has complete ownership of the land the property is on. A leasehold is when the ownership reverts back to the land owner when the lease expires.


An informal term for when a seller accepts an offer, but then accepts a higher offer from a new party before exchanging contracts.


An informal term for when the buyer threatens to pull out of the purchase before exchange of contracts, unless the seller reduces the property price.

Ground Rent

In the case of a leasehold property, the lessee will pay an annual sum called ‘Ground Rent’ to the lessor.


A separate person who guarantees that they will pay the buyer’s debt if they can’t.

HM Land Registry

The governing body that oversees the ownership of property and land throughout England and Wales.

Indemnity Contribution

Often called Indemnity Insurance, this covers your solicitor for any losses to their clients due to mistakes in the conveyancing.

Index Map Search

A property search applied for at the Land Registry to find out whether a property is registered or not.

Land Certificate

The legal document issued by the Land Registry listing the registered ownership.

The Law Society

The representative body for solicitors in England and Wales.


Where the buyer has the right to occupy the land or property for a certain length of time, but they do not own it outright.

Local Authority Searches

Property searches which ascertain if there are any council plans due to take place near your property.

Negative Equity

When the amount of money someone owes on their mortgage is more than the sale value of the property.

Party Wall

A wall which is jointly owned and repaired with a neighbour.

Power of Attorney

A consent document which allows someone to act as legal representative for somebody else.

Pre-Completion or 'Priority' Searches

These last minute searches are applied for by your conveyancer before the contracts are exchanged. These include bankruptcy and legal ownership.

Property Information Form

A form detailing the property’s information such as services, boundaries, disputes, legal rights, restrictions, and even neighbour relationships amongst other important information. This will be filled in by the seller and given to your solicitor or licensed conveyancer.


Any compensation paid in the event of a breach of contract.

Solicitor's Regulation Authority (SRA)

The independent regulating body for the Law Society of England and Wales, which deals with any disputes with your solicitor.

Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT)

A compulsory HMRC tax placed on houses bought for more than a certain price.


When a property has structural problems with the foundations or ground type which causes it to move considerably. Your surveyor will check for this.

Third Party Rights

Someone who is not the legal owner of the property, has rights to use or manage the land or property.

Title Deeds

The legal documents proving ownership to a particular property. If you have a mortgage, the mortgage lenders will keep the title deeds to your house, as technically they legally own it until you’ve paid off your mortgage.

Transfer Deed

A legal document which transfers a property into someone else’s name, usually the buyer. A transfer deed must be signed by the owner in the presence of a witness.

Transfer of Equity

A legal document which transfers a share in a particular property into someone else’s name.

Wayleave Agreement

A formal agreement between owner and a service provider to allow an electricity or telephone company to install cabling or piping into a property.


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