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Jargon Buster - Common Legal Terms
Completion Date

This is the date that your transaction is legally complete and ownership of the property passes on from the seller to the buyer.
The seller and buyer should discuss dates between themselves and notify their respective solicitors who will try to fit in the formalities with the suggested date.


This is the agreement between the buyer and the seller. It sets out the main terms of what has been agreed such as the property, the price and the names of the parties. It also deals with the process if something goes wrong. Rather than making the buyer and the seller meet to sign the same contract, the seller's solicitor draws up two copies of the same contract, and each party signs their own copy. When both parties are ready to legally commit, the two contracts are exchanged.


The deposit is a sum of money required to be paid to the seller’s solicitors by the purchaser when the contracts between the buyer and seller are ready to be exchanged. The deposit amount is usually 10% of the purchase price but can sometimes be agreed to be less.

Environmental Search

This is a search which is carried out against the property and the area it is in to check if there are any known environmental issues affecting the property, these include matters such as landfill or waste disposal sites in the area, if the property has been built on an old industrial site and whether there are any risks from contaminated land, toxic emissions, flooding, subsidence etc.

Fixtures, Fittings and Contents Form

This is a list of the items at the property which are either included or excluded from the agreed sale price. This form is completed at an early stage by the seller and sent to the buyer, so that both parties understand what is included in the selling price. If you are the seller, when you let us have the form we will send you a copy back so that you know what you have agreed on it. If you are the buyer we send you a copy of the form as soon as it is received by ourselves from the sellers solicitors so that any difficulties can be resolved at an early stage.

Land Registry

The Land Registry is the Central body that retains records of who owns the land, and under what conditions. Not all land in England and Wales is registered today. This is partly due to the fact that land can only be registered following certain "triggering events". The Land Registry has its own website which provides useful information. This is the place where your Title Deeds are retained and where we send your post completion documents to register the property in your name.

Local Authority Search

This is a list of questions about the property, which are sent to the local authority. It covers issues like whether the road serving the property should be maintained by the council, whether there have been any planning applications on the property etc. Any adverse entries which may have come up following the search will be explained to you by your conveyancer.


Purchasers - this is a loan to help you buy the house. Contracts should not be exchanged until an acceptable written mortgage offer has been received.

When you have a mortgage offer in place which has been confirmed between you and your lender, we will usually be sent a copy of the mortgage offer. We will then forward the mortgage deed to you for signature. The mortgage upon completion is 'attached' to your title deeds, and means that you cannot sell the property without paying it off at the same time.

Sellers – your mortgage details will be on the title deeds when we initially request them from the land registry or will form part of the HIP. We will contact your mortgage lender at an early stage to ask how much it will cost to pay off the mortgage and the exact amount remaining to be paid off on the mortgage, also known as the ‘redemption figure’.

Mortgage Deed

The document which is signed by the buyers to confirm that they are taking up the mortgage and allowing the lenders interest to be registered on the title deeds.

Mortgage Fees

These fees are normally charged for acting on behalf of your bank or building society.


The sum of money to be sent to your mortgage lender to free the property of the mortgage.

Redemption Fee

Penalty sometimes incurred if paying off a mortgage early.

Searches Pack

This specially negotiated search pack includes Local Authority, Water/Drainage and Environmental searches, all for one fixed fee.

Stamp Duty

This is a tax charged by the government, and only affects you if you are buy property for more than £125,000.00. It is paid by the buyer once the transaction has completed.

The amount of Stamp Duty payable varies depending on the purchase price, and is calculated in percentage terms in the following way:-

  • £0.00 - £125,000.00 0%
  • £125,000.00 to £250,000.00 1%
  • £250,000.00 to £500,000.00 3%
  • £500,000.00 + 4%

Please note the above will vary for Leasehold properties.


This is a report carried out by a surveyor on the physical state of the property you are buying. If you are buying a property you should be aware that the property is "sold as seen". It is for you, as the buyer, to discover any physical defects by means of inspections and surveys.

Most houses are bought with the assistance of a mortgage and the bank or building society, will require a mortgage valuation. However, this is not a survey - it merely ensures that they property is of sufficient value to protect the lender's interest. There are various different types of surveys which can be carried out ranging from a drive by valuation to a full inspection assessing the ins and outs of the property. Prices of these surveys range accordingly.

Title Deeds

These documents firstly act as evidence that the person selling the property actually owns it, and secondly set out any rights or obligations that affect the property.

If you are selling, then valuable time can be saved if your title deeds can be obtained by us at an early stage.

Transfer Deed

This is the document that passes the ownership of the property from the seller to the buyer.
It is dated with the completion date, and will be sent to the Land Registry after completion. The Land Registry need this deed to change their records, and show the buyer as the new owner of the property.

Water Drainage Search

This provides confirmation of whether the property is connected to a public or private water supply; it provides details of how the property is billed for the water and wastewater charges (either rateable value or water meter). It also confirms the property’s connection to a public sewer, septic tank or other private disposal facilities and whether the property is close to or is affected by water mains or public sewers.

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