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Though undoubtedly one of the most significant moments in a prospective homeowner’s lifetime, moving into a new property can be a stressful and costly process. Often, having to deal with sourcing the right real estate agent, property lawyer, and conveyancing solicitor is a complex process that subjects first-time property owners to an abundance of unfamiliar jargon and lingo. That being said, introducing the following list of common conveyancing terms into your arsenal can help streamline the buying and selling process.

Conveyancing Process Terms

  1. Conveyancing

This refers to the legal administrative process of buying and selling a piece of land or property.

  1. Conveyancing Fees

This fee is used to ensure the legal aspect of your house sale or purchase is properly handled. In the U.K., freehold property purchases come with an average conveyancing fee of £1,040, whereas those selling a freehold property are subject to a fee of GBP1,000. This fee is inclusive of 20% VAT based on the average price of a U.K. home (£232,797). This fee also includes disbursements incurred by your conveyancer.

  1. Conveyancing Search

This is the action of sourcing a conveyancer that is licensed by the CLC (Council for Licensed Conveyancers).

  1. Caveat Emptor

This is the Latin translation of “let the buyer beware”, which refers to the buyer’s responsibility of conducting investigations regarding the property through a physical search or inspection. Though sellers shouldn’t lie about a property, they aren’t legally obligated to inform buyers of any existing problems if not probed to do so.

  1. Searches

To obtain information on the property you intend to purchase, your conveyancer must conduct a series of searches with local councils, local water authorities, and local coal mining authorities. This ensures that the buyer is well aware of the state of the property they’re intending to purchase.

  1. Exchange of Contracts

When a buyer and seller legally agree to the sale of a property, the deposit is paid and an exchange of contracts occurs. At this point, an agreement date is decided upon and neither party can back out without facing financial consequences.

  1. Disbursement

This is the cost that your conveyancer incurs that include Land Registry and search fees that are eventually passed onto the buyer.

  1. Completion

Once the remaining payment for the property is formally completed and the transfer of ownership is passed on, buyers have achieved completion. Usually, keys are also exchanged on this day and the buyer officially moves into the property.

House Buying Terms

  1. Freehold

Free from the hold of any entity other than the owner itself, freehold ownership comes without a time restriction. Freehold owners can use their land for any purposes so long as they are following local regulations.

  1. Leasehold

With a lease, buyers of freehold land have the right to occupy the space for a given period, whether decades or even hundreds of years.

  1. Registered and Unregistered Land

In England and Wales, most land and property is electronically registered with HM Land Registry. This registration defines who owns a piece of land, its extent through a title plan, and whether anyone (such as a mortgage lender) has a legal interest in it.

Because they haven’t been sold in a long time, roughly 15% of land in the U.K. isn’t registered. However, there is still usually evidence regarding who owns it through paper title deeds. These types of land are difficult to purchase as they will have to undergo a registration process beforehand.

  1. Ground Rent

This is an annual regular payment made by the leaseholder to the freeholder. This amount is indicated in the lease, along with who the payments must be made out to. Keep in mind that ground rent may increase in the future depending on how the land market fluctuates.

  1. Chattels

These refer to the individual, moveable items such as beds and tables that aren’t part of the given sale price of a property.

  1. Fixtures and Fittings

These are items such as lights or bathroom suites that are already fixed or fitted into a property. These items are included in the sale of the property.

Conveyancing Clauses and Documents

  1. Conveyance

This is the name indicated on the document by which the property is formally transferred. This is also known as a deed of transfer.

  1. Covenant

Negative or positive covenants are a legally binding obligation tied to a specific title. A positive covenant might require buyers to contribute to the maintenance of a shared driveway, for instance, whereas a negative covenant may prevent you from performing certain acts within the property such as running a business within it or building another structure.

  1. Property Information Form

Sellers must complete this form with detailed information regarding the property such as its boundaries, your prospective neighbours, the work completed on the property, services, and guarantees.

  1. Title (Deeds)

These are the formal documents that indicate who owns the property or land. Specifically, a deed refers to documented evidence regarding the transfer of ownership from one person to another, whereas a title refers to one’s legal right to use and modify the property how they see fit.

  1. Ways of Buying

If two or more people intend to become the legal owners of a single piece of land or property, there are two main types of ownership that they can pursue. As joint tenants, both owners have rights to the property indivisibly—if one owner passes, the other owner will continue to have rights to the property without having to undergo a transfer of ownership that may be subject to inheritance tax.

Tenants in common refer to two or more owners who have the right to only agreed-upon sections of the property. If they intend to, they can sell their interest in the property to someone else. Upon death, the portion of the property sold becomes part of that person’s estate. Some tenants will contribute more to the purchase price than others.


Purchasing a home is no simple feat. While you can, in theory, complete conveyancing tasks on your own, having conveyancing solicitors on-call can remove the risk of making costly mistakes.

With Conveyancing Calculator, you can scout the right conveyancing solicitor by comparing conveyancing quotes with our useful online tools. By knowing exactly what you’re getting into and what upfront fees you’ll have to pay, you can budget easier and more efficiently.


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