Decoding Legal Jargon: A Guide to Conveyancing Terminology

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Decoding Legal Jargon: A Guide to Conveyancing Terminology

Buying or selling a property can be a stressful time in your life - full of uncertainty, stress, expense, and plenty of legal jargon! Navigating the house moving processes can be easier to handle if you have an understanding of the terminology that your Solicitor, Mortgage Advisor or Estate Agent are using. 

Our Conveyancing Team at Bell Lamb & Joynson pride themselves on guiding home buyers through the process in a way that they can understand. They are always happy to explain and go into more detail for people who are buying their first home or are unsure of process. It is very important that Clients have confidence in their Conveyancer and understand what each step means for them. 

This blog shares a comprehensive guide of the terms that you may come across during the conveyancing process. 

Freehold vs Leasehold 

Freehold is when you own the property and the land it sits on outright. You have full control over both the building and the land. In contrast, leasehold means you own the property for a fixed period but not the land it stands on. The land is typically owned by a third party, and you may have to pay rent. Typically, flats and maisonettes tend to be leasehold (as there are multiple dwellings on one piece of land) and houses tend to be freehold. However, this is not always the case, so it is important to understand exactly what you are buying. 


The legal process of transferring property ownership is called conveyancing. It involves various steps, including property searches, reviewing contracts, and handling the exchange of funds. 


The completion date is when the property officially changes ownership. On this day, the buyer pays the remaining balance, and the keys are handed over. 


A property chain is formed when multiple buyers and sellers are linked because each transaction depends on the success of the previous and subsequent ones. Chain-free transactions are generally more straightforward. 

Chain Break 

When a property sale falls through, it breaks the chain. This can happen for various reasons, such as financing issues or a change of heart by one of the parties involved. 


Gazumping occurs when a seller accepts a higher offer from another buyer after already agreeing on a lower one. 


Gazundering happens when a buyer reduces their offer just before the exchange of contracts. 

Exchange of Contracts 

The point in the process where the buyer and seller exchange signed contracts, legally committing to the transaction. At this stage, the buyer usually pays a deposit. 


A survey is an inspection of the property's condition, and it can range from a basic valuation to a more detailed structural survey. 

EPC (Energy Performance Certificate) 

A document providing information about a property's energy efficiency. It includes recommendations to improve energy performance. 

Stamp Duty 

A tax paid by the buyer on properties over a certain value. The rates vary depending on the property price and whether it is a first-time purchase. 


The buyer's solicitor retains a sum of money until the seller addresses certain issues, like repairs. 

Title Deeds 

Legal documents proving ownership of a property. In modern transactions, these are often held electronically by the Land Registry. 

Redemption Statement 

A document from the seller's mortgage lender detailing the amount needed to pay the mortgage in full. 


A legal obligation or restriction related to the use of the property is often outlined in the property's deeds. 

Land Registry 

A government office is responsible for maintaining a public register of properties in England and Wales, providing details of ownership and any charges on the property. 


Ready to Move House? 

If you are ready to buy your first property or move house, then speaking to our friendly conveyancing team can help you to understand what you need to do next to get your transaction moving. 

We are traditional conveyancers with a modern approach. We have been in the property world for over 200 years and have extensive local knowledge and legal expertise, however we believe in harnessing technology to make our client experience smooth and straightforward. Communication is key for us, so if that is something you value, then get in touch today. 

Call our Conveyancing Team on 03444 124348 or email