Glossary of UK Conveyancing Terms

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Building Insurance:

It's a good idea to investigate this early because in most cases you become responsible for the building's insurance (against fire damage etc.) from the moment you exchange contracts.

Contents Insurance is not necessary but your building insurance must cover the cost of rebuilding the property.

Client Care Letter:

This letter contains a cost breakdown and description of the service your conveyancing solicitor will provide.

You're only committed to using the conveyancing solicitor once you've signed the return this letter.

Completion Date (selling):

This is the date you receive full payment from your buyer. Your property is now theirs and you must handover the keys and vacate.

Completion Date (buying):

This is the date you make full payment to your seller. Their property is now yours. Collect the keys and move in.

Completion Statement:

This is a financial breakdown of your purchase and all the related costs.

It ends by stating the amount of money your conveyancing solicitor needs from you to complete on your new home.

Contract:

The legal document setting out the terms of the sale / purchase and the parties involved.

Contract Pack:

This is a set of documents forwarded to your buyer's conveyancing solicitor so he may investigate your legal title over the property.

Usually it contains the draft contract, title deeds, property information form, fixtures & fittings form, leasehold management information (if applicable), building guarantees and any planning consents you've been granted.

Deposit:

The amount of money you will be paying the seller on exchange of contracts.

Traditionally it's 10% of the full purchase price but your conveyancing solicitor may be able to negotiate less on your behalf (useful if your mortgage has a high "loan/value" ration).

Exchange of Contracts:

This is the moment the transaction becomes legally binding. Up until now either party is able to walk away without penalty (i.e. being sued for damages).

Identical copies of the contract are signed by both parties and swapped (usually by post).

The buyers also hands over his deposit for the seller's conveyancing solicitor to hold until completion.

Fixture & Fittings Form:

This is a standard form provided by the vendor's conveyancing solicitor setting out what is and isn't included in the sale price.

H.M. Land Registry:

This is a central governing body that records the ownership of land & property throughout England & Wales.

Land Registry Office Copies:

This is the official copy (i.e. accepted in a Court of Law) of your property's record held by H.M Land Registry.

It normally consists of a Property Register and Title Plan.

Leasehold Property Information Form:

The leasehold version of the SPIF (see next entry).

Local Authority Searches (when buying):

This are questions asked of the Local Authority about the property you're buying.

Councils keep registers of all Planning Permissions, Road Proposals, Environmental Health related matters, Tree Preservation Orders, Compulsory Purchase Orders and Highway Adoption.

These records are searched to see how & if they affect the property you're buying.

The problem with these standard searches is they only relate to the land within the boundary of the property.

Unless you specifically ask your conveyancing solicitor to perform a separate (and more comprehensive) "planning search" (should cost about £20-30), you'll know nothing about what may be happening to properties next door or nearby.

Also, the standard local searches won't alert you to any building or infrastructure projects currently being proposed or voted on by the Council (e.g. Proposals that are at Committee Stage).

If your worried about this your best bet is to visit the council and ask some questions directly to the Planning & Highways Dept's (as long as you're not applying for Planning Permission it's possible to find some helpful people within Council Offices).

Pre-Completion Searches (when buying):

These are to check that firstly you haven't become bankrupt since your mortgage offer was approved. Secondly. They check that the property is still owned by the seller (i.e. the individual you're about to send lots of cash to).

Property Information Form (SPIF):

This is a questionnaire given to the vendor about their property.

It asks about boundaries, disputes, notices, guarantees, services, sharing with neighbours, arrangements & legal rights, occupiers, restrictions, planning, fixtures & expenses.

It sounds a lot but mostly you're just expected to provide yes/no answers.

Take care filling it in because failure to disclose known information is an offence. Your conveyancing solicitor will help with any questions you're unclear on.

Redemption Settlement:

This is what it costs to pay back your mortgage early.

It consists of the money you still owe your lender and probably an "early payback" penalty too.

This penalty payment compensates your lender for the interest he'll loose out on from your loan not running its full term.

Stamp Duty (when buying):

This is Tax, plain and simple! The current tax rates are as follows:

Property Value

£125,000 - £250,000

£250,001 - £500,000

£500,001 & upwards

% Paid as Tax

1%

3%

4%

So if you're buying a £300k property, you will actually pay £309k (that extra £9k goes to The Inland Revenue).

If you want to lean how to reduce the amount of Stamp Duty you pay there's a pretty solid book on the subject called "How to Avoid Stamp Duty" by Russell Eaton (UK's leading authority on Stamp Duty avoidance strategies).

Title Deeds:

This document provides proof of ownership for a property.

If you have a mortgage then your lender will be holding them. Obtaining your title deeds is one of a seller's conveyancing solicitor's first jobs.

It can take up to 2 weeks for your lender to go through his draws and find your deeds. This is why it's important to instruct you solicitor early.

Finding your deeds before finding a buyer shaves precious weeks off the conveyancing process.

Transfer Deed:

A document signed by you and in the presence of a witness (doesn't have to be your conveyancing solicitor) that transfers the ownership of your property to your buyer.

RESOURCES - Conveyancing:

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