If you are new or unfamiliar with the conveyancing process then you may find “legal jargon” being used and this guide, brought to you by the Property Conveyancing department at Battrick Clark Solicitors of Bristol, will help explain some of the common phrases to simplify your journey.


Completion – Once completion has occurred the property has been legally transferred from the seller to the purchaser. This is the date that the seller must move out of the property to allow the buyer to move in.

Contract – The contract is the legal document that sets out the important details of the sale or purchase. This document will need to be signed by both the seller and the purchaser.

Deposit – This is the sum that will need to be paid on exchange of contracts. The sum is usually 10% of the agreed purchase price. This deposit is held as security to ensure all parties complete on the agreed completion date.

Early Repayment Charge – If you repay your mortgage during the fixed rate then you may be liable for paying a penalty to your mortgage company. This varies between mortgage companies and is something that should be checked early in the transaction.

EPC – An Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) must be carried out by an accredited Energy Assessor on each home that is being sold. This will rate the property on its energy efficiency between A and G. A being the most efficient.

Exchange – This is when the buyer’s solicitors and the purchaser’s solicitor swap signed contracts. This is when a completion date is agreed and the transaction becomes legally binding.

Freehold – If a property is freehold then you are purchasing the property and the land on which it sits. There is no end date and no rent payable to any other party.

Indemnity Insurance – If there are any legal defects with the property, such as lack of building regulations for a new extension, they can sometimes be covered by an insurance policy. These policies have a one of payment and would cover any potential loses which may arise from the legal defect.

Leasehold – If a property is leasehold (all flats will be leasehold) then you are purchasing a lease from a freeholder for a fixed number of years. You will not own the building or the land the property sits on. You will likely have to pay rent to the freeholder and other charges such as service charge could occur.

Searches – The purchaser’s solicitor will carry out searches as part of the conveyancing process. There are some common searches which are carried out and the solicitor will be able to explain these all to you once the results are received.

Survey – If you are purchasing the property with a mortgage then the mortgage company may arrange for a valuation survey to take place. This will check that the price being paid for the property is reasonable. You can also arrange for an independent surveyor to attend the property to inspect its physical characteristics and to check there are no structural concerns. This is a decision that is up to the purchasers and is not mandatory and there is an additional cost for this.

Title Deeds ­– These are the deeds which document the ownership of the property and any rights or reservations associated with it. Most title deeds are now stored electronically at the Land Registry and are readily available to download subject to a small fee.

Transfer Deed – A transfer deed must be signed by all parties and is the document legally passing the ownership to the purchasers on completion. Once completion has taken place this document is sent to the Land Registry so that they can update their records.