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A beginner’s guide to common conveyancing and house buying terms

Moving house can be stressful, particularly because it can sometimes feel as though you are swimming through an endless stream of industry and legal jargon.

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As one of the most significant purchases you will make, it is important to understand what is happening at every stage of the process. So, to ensure you are fully equipped with the knowledge you need to embark on your house purchasing journey with confidence, we have put together this handy guide explaining the most common conveyancing and house buying terms in more detail.

Key conveyancing terms

Conveyancing is the administrative and legal process of buying or selling property and/or land. Although all sales and purchases will incur these fees, it is possible to locate cheap conveyancing experts with the skills and knowledge to ensure your sale proceeds smoothly.

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– Conveyancing fees

Conveyancing fees vary depending on the price of the property you are purchasing or selling. The average UK home is valued at £232,797 and, including 20% VAT, house buyers can expect to pay £1040 in conveyancing fees. Sellers can expect to pay less, but will still be billed in the region of £1000.

This process doesn’t have to cost the earth, but when looking for cheap conveyancing services, it is important to ensure they have the experience and accreditation to provide a first class experience and assist the smooth progression of your purchase.

– Caveat emptor

When translated from the original Latin, this means ‘let the buyer beware’. Although sellers cannot knowingly lie about their property, the onus is on the buyer to ensure they understand what they are buying. Buyers should always conduct their own physical inspections and have a thorough survey performed by a licensed professional.

– Searches

In addition to viewings and surveys, a buyer’s conveyancer should arrange a series of searches with key organisations that hold important information about a property. By contacting the local council, coal mining authority, and the local water authority, buyers can feel confident that they have all the facts to make an informed purchasing decision.

– Subject to contract

Nothing has been legally agreed, however, key negotiations are still ongoing.

– Exchange of contracts

At this point, the seller and buyer agree to the sale of the property. This is a legal process and once contracts have been exchanged, neither the buyer nor the seller can back out of the sale without facing consequences. A completion date will be agreed by both parties and a deposit will be paid.

– Disbursement

Search and land registry fees will be incurred by a conveyancer on behalf of the buyer, and will be added to the cost of the conveyancer’s services.

– Completion

At this point, payment for the remaining percentage of the property will be formally completed and the official transfer of ownership will occur. On this day, keys will be exchanged and the buyer can move into their new property.

Key house buying terms

– Freehold

In addition to the property itself, the buyer will also own the land it sits on, with no limitations placed on said ownership.


The land a property sits on will be owned by a freeholder, from whom the buyer will purchase the right to occupy it for a period of time. Most leases are at least several decades long and, in many cases, will extend to hundreds of years.

– Unregistered/registered land

Most land in England and Wales can be found on the electronic HM Land Registry. This register provides definitive proof of who holds ownership over a piece of land, including any party that also has an interest in it such as a mortgage lender. Currently unregistered land, most of which hasn’t been sold or bought in the last 15 years, will have paper deeds. This land is typically more complicated to purchase, and will likely take longer to complete.

– Ground rent

Leaseholders are often required to make an annual payment to the freeholder. Ground rent will be set out in the lease, and can increase over time. It is important that buyers are aware of the terms of any payable ground rent to ensure fees remain within their budget over the long term.

– Chattels

All moveable, individual items, including tables and beds, etc., that, unless otherwise agreed, are not included in the sale price.

– Fixtures and fittings

All items that are fitted or fixed to the property, including bathroom suites and lights, etc., and are included in the sale price.



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Henry Doe is a seasoned DIY enthusiast and home improvement, blogger. With over 10 years of experience in renovating his own home, he has honed his skills in carpentry, plumbing, and electrical work. Henry's passion for creating beautiful and functional living spaces has led him to share his knowledge and experiences with his readers through his blog, "Home Sweet Home DIY." His goal is to inspire and empower homeowners to tackle their own home projects, big or small. When he's not hammering and sawing, you can find Henry hiking in the mountains or sipping on a latte at his local coffee shop.