What Are The Most Common Terms In Conveyancing?

Buying a new home is complicated enough so the last thing you need is what seems like a whole new language to learn, just to get through the process. From gazumping to title deeds, there is a whole lot of jargon involved that seems like it was specifically designed to confuse you.

This is why we have put together a list of some of the most common terms used in the conveyancing process, to decipher just what it is your conveyancing solicitor is talking about.

What Are The Most Common Terms In Conveyancing?

Chain

If you are involved in a chain, this means that there are a series of sales and purchases that all rely on each other to take place. Each transaction is linked and a break in the chain can cause massive problems for everyone involved. This is why a lot of people prefer to sell to a first time buyer or cash buyers – people with no onward chain.

Completion Date

Your completion date is the day where funds are transferred and the keys change hands. As soon as the money has been exchanged between conveyancing solicitors, the sale or purchase is completed and the property now belongs to another owner. If you’re involved in a chain, all parties need to agree on completion dates. This is one of the reasons why long chains are avoided as the more people involved, the more that can go wrong.

Contract

Your contract outlines the terms and conditions of the sale and purchase, including the agreed sale price and the completion date. When your conveyancing solicitor exchanges contracts on your behalf, the sale becomes legally binding and you’re obliged to complete the transaction. If you do not, then financial penalties will be incurred.

Conveyancing

Conveyancing is the legal process which transfers the ownership of a property from one person to another. Once an offer is accepted, your conveyancing solicitor will ensure all relevant contracts are signed and money transfers are completed. Your conveyancing solicitor will help you fill out all the legal forms required to process your sale or purchase, liaise with your mortgage lender and the other party’s conveyancer. They will complete tasks like instructing local authority searches and transferring funds.

You will often find yourself comparing several conveyancing quotes and examining several sets of conveyancing fees in order to choose the best conveyancing solicitor. It is important to look beyond simply the cheapest conveyancing quotes.

Deposit

This is a lump sum of money needed to secure your mortgage. In conveyancing terms, the deposit under the contract will be at least 5 – 20% of the purchase price. When you have exchanged contracts on a property, you risk losing all of your deposit if you pull out for any reason. If you are buying and selling at the same time, your conveyancer will organise the transfer of your deposit from the funds you’re receiving for selling your current property.

Disbursement

Disbursements are third party expenses on top of conveyancing fees, that your conveyancer pays on your behalf and bills you for. They can include things like fees for searches, registering details with the Land Registry, ID fees, Bankruptcy search, and so on. Usually you will need to pay some conveyancing fees up-front, which covers the disbursements that are going to occur.

Equity

Equity is the amount of capital you have tied up in your home: the amount that you actually own, as opposed to what you owe to your mortgage lender. If your property’s worth £200,000 and you have £75,000 outstanding on the mortgage, you own £125,000 and this is the equity you have in your home.

Freehold

A freehold property is one where you have complete ownership of the land and everything built on it. You own this until you sell it again, in theory, forever. Subject to legal and planning conditions, you have the right to do what you want to your land and home and do not have to pay maintenance fees or ground rent

Gazumping

Gazumping is when a seller accepts your offer but goes on to accept a higher offer from someone else later on. As well as the huge disappointment this causes, it can end up costing you money too. It is important to ask for a property to be taken off the market as a condition of your offer. They don’t have to do this but in some areas it is commonplace.

Land Registry

The Land Registry is a government department which holds the records of property ownership in England and Wales. The register records details such as the dates of property sale and the sale price. They keep a record of titles on freehold and leasehold land and properties.

Leasehold

If you buy a Leasehold property, this means you take out a lease from the person who owns the freehold. This lease states that you are allowed to use the home for a number of years. Leases are usually long term, often 90 years or 120 years and sometimes as high as 999 years. However, they can also be short, like 40 years. If you buy a leasehold property, you do not own the land the property is built on. All rights to this land remain with the freeholder. Flats are almost always leasehold. They usually come with monthly or yearly charges to the freeholder or their agents to cover service, maintenance or ground rent. Make sure you’re aware of the service charges before you put in an offer on a property as it might affect whether you can afford to live there.

Mortgage Deed

This is a contract which documents the lender’s terms and conditions. It also shows your mortgage provider’s interest in the property. Although your house is technically owned by you, your lender can repossess and sell it if you don’t keep up your mortgage payments. This is why it is important to make sure you can afford them before going ahead with your purchase.

Mortgage Agreement In Principle

This is the way in which you can prove that you have been approved for a mortgage. Securing a mortgage in principle from a lender means that you are all set to go when you have had an offer on a property accepted. It proves that you know your budget, show sellers that you’re a serious buyer. Some estate agents require you to have a mortgage in principal before showing you potential new homes.

Mortgage Offer

A formal mortgage offer sets out the terms and conditions of your imminent mortgage. It includes details of the amount of the loan and the deal you are going for along with your monthly repayments. You conveyancing solicitor will receive a copy of the mortgage offer which they will examine closely on your behalf.

Mortgage provider Surveys

To make sure that your property is worth what you are paying for it, your mortgage provider will carry out a basic valuation. This can reduce the possibility of missing any potential problems with the structural integrity of the property. This report will not tell you anything about the condition of the property; any work that needs doing or any potential problems with the building.

Mortgage Redemption statement

If you wish to amend or cancel your mortgage, or decide to switch provider, you will need to ask your mortgage provider for a redemption statement. Your current lender will specify exactly how much of your mortgage is remaining and detail any early repayment charges or penalties known as redemption fees.

Searches

Conveyancing solicitors carry out what is known as searches on the property you intend to buy. Searches highlight any potential issues which may affect the value of the property or your desire to purchase it. They can include things like a local authority search, water and drainage search and local planning applications.

Stamp Duty

If you’re buying a home in England or Northern Ireland and paying more than £125,000, you will have to pay Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT) or more than £40,000 for second homes. This applies to both freehold and leasehold properties.If you’re buying a property in Scotland you will pay Land and Buildings Transaction Tax (LBTT) and in Wales Land Transaction Tax (LTT) instead of Stamp Duty.
As the price of your property moves up through the bands, it attracts higher rates of tax:

  • Up to £125,000 – 0%
  • £125,001 to £250,000 – 2%
  • £250,001 to £925,000 – 5%
  • £925,001 to £1,500,000 – 10%
  • Over £1,500,000 – 12%

If you are a first-time buyer and have never owned land or property anywhere in the world, you may be able to claim SDLT relief which means that the first £300,000 won’t attract any tax, as long as you are buying for less than £500,000.

Title

When you own the title on a property, this is the record of you being the legal owner. In the past, your mortgage lender would have taken possession of the title in the form of original Deeds but nowadays, the Land Registry stores it electronically.

Transfer Deed

The transfer deed is the document which proves that the sale has been finalised and that it is now the legal property of the new owner. It is usually signed at the same time as your contract documents and sent to the Land Registry to be transferred into the buyer’s name.

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