Glossary

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A

Advance notice

An advance notice gives notice of a property sale or purchase to the Registers of Scotland. It contains information about both the existing and new owners, the property and the intended deed.

C

Chain

A property chain occurs when at least one vendor is selling their home to a buyer who also has property to sell and, as a result, there are a number of linked transactions depending on each other.

Completion

The point at which the transaction (the sale, purchase, remortgage or lease extension) is completed. When buying a property, this is the date that you become the legal owner and get the keys to your new home.

Completion statement

A completion statement shows all the payments involved in the conveyancing process.

It includes the amount you are paying or receiving for the property, a breakdown of the legal costs, the outstanding amount on your mortgage and also shows any additional funds owed to or by you to complete the sale or purchase.

You’ll receive your completion statement from your conveyancer just before the exchange of contracts.

Conveyancer

A conveyancer is a legal professional who specialises in property law and can carry out the legal side of buying or selling a property, remortgaging or extending a lease.

D

Deeds

Officially known as 'title deeds', these are the formal legal documents that record interest in or ownership of land or property. They act as evidence that the person selling the property actually owns it, and lay out any rights or obligations you need to abide by as the owner of the property.

If you have a mortgage, your lender will usually hold your title deeds until the mortgage is paid in full.

Deposit

The amount paid by a buyer to a seller when contracts are exchanged to make a property sale legally binding.

Disbursements

These are legal fees and expenses paid on your behalf by your solicitor or conveyancer. They include the fees paid for official copies of deed and title documents, estate agent's fees, and any bank charges for transferring funds.

Date of entry

In Scotland, the date of entry is the date on which the buyer pays the funds to the seller and collects the keys to their new property.

E

Early-repayment fee

This is a penalty charged by your mortgage lender if you pay off the mortgage early. It compensates the lender for lost interest.

Energy performance certificate (EPC)

An energy performance certificate (EPC) provides details of how energy efficient a property is and what can be done to improve it.

EPCs are created by energy assessors who check the type and age of the heating boiler, windows, light bulbs and existing insulation and provide an EPC rating of A (highest) to G (lowest).

An EPC is needed for properties when built, sold or let. Find out more about EPCs

Exchange

Exchange of contracts is the point in the process when both the buyer and seller commit themselves to a legally binding agreement.

To exchange, the seller's conveyancer draws up two copies of the same contract and both the buyer and seller signs their own copy. When both parties are ready to legally commit, the two contracts are exchanged.

Once contracts are exchanged, both the buyer and the seller are legally bound to go through with the house sale.

F

Freehold

If you own a property on a freehold basis, you own it along with the land it stands on. As a freeholder you will have full responsibility for the maintenance and repairs of the property.

G

Gazumping

Gazumping is when a seller accepts an offer from one potential buyer, only to accept a higher offer later from someone else. The seller then either accepts the increased offer or asks you to beat it.

Gazumping tends to occur in a market when house prices are rising and there are more buyers than sellers.

The problem arises because agents are legally obliged to inform sellers of all offers made on their property, even after an offer has been accepted. Until contracts have been exchanged the offer is not legally binding.

Get Which? advice on gazumping

Ground rent

Ground rent is a small annual sum paid by a leaseholder to the building’s freeholder as part of the terms of the lease.

L

Lender

A lender is an individual, bank or building society that provides a mortgage loan to a borrower. The borrower will repay the mortgage in regular instalments, usually over a period of five to 30 years.

Land Registry

The Land Registry is the government body that keeps all records to registered land and property in England and Wales. It is divided into regional offices, each with its own Chief Land Registrar.

Leasehold

If you own a leasehold property, you have a right to occupy the land or property with certain conditions in place, but it’s technically owned by the freeholder.

Find out more about the difference between leasehold and freehold properties.

Land and buildings transaction tax

Lands and buildings transaction tax – or LBTT – is a tiered Scottish government tax paid on the purchase of properties in Scotland costing over £145,000. Use our cost calculator to find out exactly how much LBTT you'll have to pay. Please note that a higher rate of tax applies for second homes and buy-to-let properties costing over £40,000.

M

Missives

In Scotland, missives are the formal letters exchanged between the conveyancers representing the buyer and the seller dealing with contract details and conditions of sale.

P

Property title

The property title will provide ownership details and an accurate description of its location and boundaries.

R

Redemption statement

This shows the current mortgage balance, outstanding interest, daily rate of interest, and any early repayment fees if applicable. It confirms the exact amount due to fully repay your mortgage on the date the statement is created.

Registers of Scotland

The Registers of Scotland is the government body responsible for compiling and keeping records relating to land and property in Scotland.

S

Searches

Searches are formal legal enquiries submitted by a conveyancer to local councils, the Environment Agency, and coal or water authorities. They provide important information that could affect a property's value.

They will show, for example, whether or not the road serving a property is a publicly adopted highway, whether there are any mineshafts close by, and whether the property is subject to any planning enforcement notices.

Stamp duty

Stamp duty, also known as stamp duty land tax (SDLT), is a tiered tax charged on residential properties in England and Wales with a purchase price of more than £125,000 (£40,000 for second homes and buy-to-let properties).

Use our cost calculator to find out exactly how much stamp duty you'll have to pay.

Survey

A survey is an inspection of the property by a surveyor who will record any defects or issues such as damp or subsidence.

There are different levels of survey available, from a homebuyer's report to a full building survey.

T

Title burdens

In Scotland, title burdens are requirements that must be met by the owner of the property.

Burdens can include repair and maintenance responsibilities, access rights to and from the property, restrictions on any alterations you can make to the property, and other restrictions such as whether you’re allowed to keep certain pets on the property.

Title deed

Often simply called 'deeds', these are the formal legal documents that record interest in or ownership of land or property. They act as evidence that the person selling the property actually owns it, and lay out any rights or obligations you need to abide by as the owner of the property.

If you have a mortgage, your lender will usually hold your title deeds until the mortgage is paid in full.

V

Valuation

An estimate of a property’s worth made by a surveyor or property specialist after a brief inspection of the property.

The surveyor will use their knowledge of comparable prices nearby. The valuation may include a 'minimum reinstatement value' which is the sum of money it would take to rebuild the property from scratch. Valuation surveys are only conducted in the interest of the lender, and you should always opt for a more comprehensive survey of your own to identify any issues which could affect you. 

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