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    Conveyancing: In plain English please

    Here is our plain English guide to the world of conveyancing, an A – Z for anyone feeling lost.

    In plain English, please…

    Buying or selling a property is a big step. You need to be crystal clear about what you’re doing and what’s going on. What you don’t need is to be confused by any of the jargon, buzzwords and industry terms that come with the territory. Here then is our plain English guide to the world of conveyancing, an A – Z for anyone feeling lost.


    Otherwise known as a contract.


    A public sale with the property sold to the highest bidder.

    Bankruptcy Search

    A check to see whether a buyer or borrower is, or is about to be, declared bankrupt.


    Fences, walls or hedging often mark the extent of a property, or its boundaries.

    Bridging Loan

    These are simply short-term loans that allow a homeowner to buy a new home before selling the old one.


    Or a vicious circle; most people selling their property are buying at the same time, but can’t buy until they sell, or can’t sell until the purchase is confirmed. The result is a chain of sellers all dependent on each other. If one sale in the chain doesn’t go through, the rest can be delayed

    Completion date

    The date when the property transaction is completed and you move in or out of the property.


    This agreement specifies details of the house sale or purchase and the parties involved. Once signed and exchanged, the contract legally commits both buyer and seller to the transaction.


    All the legal stuff to do with buying or selling a property.


    A legal document showing the chain of ownership for a property, right up to the present owner.


    Usually 10% of the full sale price, this is normally paid by the buyer’s solicitor to the seller’s solicitor as an initial instalment.


    This relates to how much of a property you own. No mortgage? Then you have 100% equity in that property.


    The exchange of contracts is a process between the buyer’s solicitor and the seller’s solicitor. Once the exchange is completed, both parties are committed.


    This means full ownership of a property or land.


    Usually relating to flats or apartments, a leaseholder won’t actually own the property or land but will lease it for a set period of time, typically 99 – 125 years.

    Stamp Duty

    Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT) is a tax that buyers may be required to pay when purchasing a property.

    Subject to Contract

    Until the exchange of contracts, agreements aren’t legally binding and any negotiations are therefore ‘subject to contract’.


    A survey is often required to help value a property and check on its condition. Surveys can vary from the most basic, which is simply a valuation, to a more detailed, structural survey.


    A valuation survey will determine the value of a property and is required by mortgage lenders.
    We don’t think there’s a Z, but if there is a term you need explaining which isn’t already here, please give us a call and we’ll be more than happy to put it into plain English.

    If you would like to speak to a member of the property team about our plain English guide to the world of conveyancing, or you would like a no-obligation quote for buying or selling your home please call 01603 598000 or email info@steeleslaw.co.uk and a member fo the team will be happy to help.