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Did you know? – Conveyancing terminology

There is always a need in all walks of life for clarity. At Wards our aim is to advise clearly and in terms our clients can understand, without underestimating their ability to assimilate new terminology.

This however is a brief guide to common conveyancing terms which may assist newcomers:

Parties to a transaction:

The seller or vendor- the person selling the property

The Buyer or Purchaser the person buying the property

Lessor- another term for a Landlord

Lessee- another term for a Tenant


The term for the process whereby the legal title to property is transferred from one person to another. That is for the legal process involved in buying and selling property.


The term for the legal representative in a Conveyancing transaction.

Conveyancers may be solicitors but they can also be 'licensed conveyancers' or 'legal executives'.


- the legal ownership or entitlement to land or property

Freehold title- the usual title for a house

Leasehold title - the usual title for a flat


This is the term for an obligation in the title, usually to do, or not to do something. For example not to use the property for a business.


This is the term for a right which one piece of land enjoys over another piece of land: such as a right of way over a footpath or driveway, or drainage rights.

Title Deeds

The documents which prove the title to the property. In modern Conveyancing there are rarely any deeds such, as most titles are registered at the Land Registry and held by them electronically.


These are requests for information from certain sources which conveyancers carry out for the benefit of purchasers.

Local search

A search with the local authority of their data and records. It includes information on financial charges, highways and planning.

Drainage Search

This is obtained from the Water Authority to indicate the routes of any drains and to ascertain whether or not the foul sewer connects to a public sewer. It also gives details of the water supply.


This is a loan which is taken to buy property but which that property is then held subject to. It will be in the title to the property. The lender has rights under the mortgage which means they have to be repaid on any sale, and if the terms of the Mortgage are not met, can take possession of the property from the owners and sell it themselves.


In Conveyancing terms, a binding agreement between the Seller and the Buyer to sell/buy the property specified in the agreement on the terms set out. The main terms are the price and the completion date. The Seller and Buyer will each sign one copy of the Contract

Exchange of contracts

The term for when it is agreed that both the Seller and the Buyer are legally bound by the contract they have signed. In the past this was done in person with the conveyancers meeting and exchanging their signed copies. 'Exchange' is now usually agreed by the conveyancer for each party on the telephone. They will then send the signed copies afterwards.

Completion date

The term for the date on which the sale and purchase are concluded. So the date on which the price changes hands, the title is transferred, the Seller moves out and the Buyer can move in.

Stamp Duty

This is now called 'Stamp Duty Land Tax', and is a government tax payable on property transactions. It is payable on completion, and applies to purchases over £125,000.00

Land Registry

All land and property ownership in England and Wales is subject to a system of registration at the Land Registry, which is state owned. On the completion of a purchase the new owner will have their title registered at the Land Registry.

Energy Performance Certificate

This is a certificate which will rate on a scale of A-G: how energy-efficient the property is, and the impact the property has on the environment. It is compulsory for a Seller to provide this to a Buyer.

Need more information?

For more information, please speak to your usual Wards contact, or email Susan Ellis on susan.ellis@wards.uk.com.

This guide is not intended to be definitive or to act as a substitute for legal advice.

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