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Jargon Buster

The sometimes complex language of buying and selling houses decoded and explained.

Chain: All parties involved in a transaction e.g. Mr A buying from Mr B buying from Mr C (there are three parties in this chain).
Completion Date: The date when the transaction (either the sale or purchase of a property) is completed. This is the date you become the legal owner.
Completion Statement: A statement from the solicitor detailing all financial transactions, including all costs payable.
Conditions of Sale: The terms by which the buyer and seller agree to sell/buy the property. The Law Society sets standard conditions. However, the solicitors of both parties can set special conditions on behalf of their customers.
Contract: The legally binding agreement specifying details of the house sale or house purchase. The contract legally commits both the buyer and the seller to the transaction. The house seller's conveyancing solicitor draws up two copies of the same contract and each party signs their own copy. When both parties are ready to legally commit, then then two contracts are exchanged.
Conveyancer: The property specialist who manages all of the matters arising from the sale of a house or the purchase of a house, they can be a solicitor or a licensed conveyancer.

Conveyance or Transfer: The legally binding document that transfers the rights, burdens and the benefit of the land.
Council for Licensed Conveyancers: A regulatory body for conveyancing with whom all conveyancers should be registered.
Deeds: Legal title document that provides historical information about the property.
Deposit: The amount paid to exchange contracts, which is only refundable in rare and exceptional circumstances. Contracts provide for 10% of the purchase price to be payable on exchange but this amount can be negotiated to a higher or lower level if needs be.
Disbursements: Out-of-pocket expenses paid by the solicitor/conveyancer on the buyer's behalf, such as land registry charges and search fees.
Easement: A right given to the homeowner over an adjoining property.
EPC: Energy performance certificate – required by law this document shows the likely energy usage of a particular property. They last 10 years assuming there are no changes to the property and we can source them for you at a competitive price via our partners, please ask in branch for details.
Exchange of Contract: The point that both parties are committed to the transaction.
Fixtures and Fittings: A contractual list of the items in the property, which are either to be included or excluded from the agreed sale price.
Freehold: One of the two current tenures of land recognised by English law. This recognises the whole of the land not just a building.
FSA: The Financial Services Authority (FSA) is an independent government body concerned with consumer protection in the financial market.
Gazumping: When the house seller accepts a higher price offer from another buyer after the initial offer has been accepted.
Gazundering: When the house buyer reduces an accepted offer shortly before exchange of contracts.
Indemnity Insurance: An insurance taken out by conveyancing firms to cover losses to customers arising from errors or fraud in dealing with their matters. Insurance can sometimes be taken out to cover potential title deficiencies.
Land Registry Fees: Fees paid by the conveyancing lawyer on the buyer's behalf to register the ownership of property with the Land Registry. Normally the cost is reimbursed by the buyer.
Land Registry: the official body in the UK responsible for recording the ownership of land.
Leasehold: The second current tenure of land recognised by English law. This is over a term of years and not unlimited. There will be a Landlord who will own the freehold. This usually relates to a flat or apartment but not always.
Licensed Conveyancer: A licensed conveyancer is a specialist who is trained and qualified in the transfer of property.
Mortgage Deed: The legal agreement that gives the lender a legal right to property.

Mortgage Fees: Normally charged by your financial advisor for acting on behalf of your bank or building society.
Redemption Fee: A penalty which can be charged by your existing mortgage lender if you pay off your mortgage early or you move to a different mortgage.
Searches: A method of researching issues that may affect the value of the property. A Local Authority Search covers items such as road maintenance and planning applications.
Structural Survey: A survey giving details about the building and its integrity.
Subject to Contract: Indicating a provisional agreement has been reached between the house buyer and the house seller that is not yet legally binding.
Transfer Document: The final document that transfers the property from the house seller to the house buyer.
Valuation Survey: A survey to allow a property value to be determined for mortgage purposes. This is not the same as a structural survey.

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