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​Jargon buster: Conveyancing

Are you selling your property or looking to buy your next house? Throughout the process you may encounter some unfamiliar words and phrases. We’ve put together an A-Z of property buying and selling to help make sense of it all:

  • Chain. Generally, sellers tend to be buying and selling at the same time. If the person they are purchasing from is buying another property too, then both parties are part of a chain. Each transaction is dependent upon another. First time buyers at the bottom of the chain and any seller who is not buying at the same time as selling is said to ‘break the chain’.
  • Completion date. This is the ‘moving date’ when the seller gets the money and the buyer gets the keys.
  • Contract. The agreement between buyer and seller to sell the property on an agreed date and at an agreed price. This gives both parties certainty so they can finalise arrangements. Usually the parties sign identical copies of the contract and the solicitors formally exchange the copies at the point when the agreement becomes legally binding (called ‘exchange of contracts’).
  • Conveyancing. When buying/selling a property and transferring ownership, the process of investigating the legal title and transferring the ownership is called ‘conveyancing’. The ‘conveyancer’ is the person who undertakes the legal work.
  • Deposit. The amount paid by the buyer when contracts are exchanged. This forms part of the purchase price. The seller may be able to keep the deposit if the buyer then decides not to complete. The standard contract terms state that the deposit is 10% of the full purchase price but in practice, a lesser amount is often negotiated.
  • Disbursements. Fees paid by the conveyancer to third parties on the buyer’s behalf, including searches, Stamp Duty and Land Registry fees.
  • EPC. Energy Performance Certificate (EPC). A guide which has to be provided to potential buyers detailing information about a property, such as energy use and performance, CO2 emissions and typical fuel bills.
  • Freehold. If your property is freehold, you own both the building and its land without any limitation on the period of ownership.
  • Leasehold. If your property is leasehold, you have a contract with the freeholder giving the right to occupy the property for a specified length of time (which may be for as long as 999 years but always a finite period). Many flats are leaseholds because it is an effective way of managing the whole building. You may have to pay additional fees, including service charges, ground rent and buildings insurance.
  • Mortgage. A loan from a bank, building society or lender to assist buyers with a property purchase. The loan is secured on the property so if the loan is not repaid as agreed, the lender can repossess the property. There are various types of mortgage loans available – for more information, visit
  • Offer. The figure a potential buyer is willing to pay for a property.
  • Sold STC. Sold ‘Subject to Contract’: an offer has been accepted on a property, but this is not yet legally binding.
  • Survey. An inspection undertaken by a building surveyor, who will check that the building is structurally sound.
  • Title deeds. The legal documentation proving ownership of the property and land. If the ownership is registered, proof of ownership is kept on an electronic register at HM Land Registry and copies can be obtained. If the ownership has not yet been registered the seller will need to produce the original title deeds to the property.
  • Vendor. The seller of the property.

We are straightforward and speak plainly. If you would like to discuss our Conveyancing services, please contact us on 0113 264 4414 or

Mark Laird

Written by

Mark Laird


Mark worked as a paralegal for five years before qualifying as a Chartered Legal Executive in 2007. Since then he has specialised in all aspects of residential conveyancing.

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