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Conveyancing Terminology Explained

Conveyancing, or the legal process of transferring real estate, comes with a lot of technical jargon, which you may not be familiar with. This can make what’s already a stressful process seem especially confusing. We want to help make sure buying your new home goes as smoothly as possible–here’s a breakdown of common terminology you should know. 

Acceptance: When you agree to an offer made. 

Adjustments: How property outgoings are split between the buyer and seller so that each party only pays for outgoings related to when they were in possession of the property. 

Caveat: A warning or alert to the prospective buyer about some other right or interest over the land. 

Certificate of Title: This is issued by the land registration authority to show that the property is lawfully owned by who says they own it. It includes any particulars of mortgages over the property. 

Chattels and Fixtures: This refers to property, such as tools and furnishings that can be removed without damaging the land (chattels), and property that is affixed to the land and can’t be removed without damaging the property (fixtures). 

Contract: The written agreement between the buyer and seller, which is a legally binding document, and under which there are responsibilities to meet obligations. 

Cooling Off: A short period during which the buyer can rescind the contract of sale at a small cost. The period begins once the contract is signed and is usually 5 business days.

Co-Owners: Sharing ownership of a property and dividing costs. This is popular in a market where people are often priced out of buying homes. 

Covenant: Where parties agree to do, or refrain from doing something. Particularly common in lease agreements. 

Defects: Problems with a property which require remediation. 

Deposit: The sum of money a buyer must put down to secure their interest in the property. 

Deterioration: Wear, tear and decline, which will lead to the depreciation in value of a property.

Easements: The right to use another’s land–for example, for the Government to run electrical mains or drainage.

Encumbrance: A charge, liability or other burden on the property, such as a mortgage, or a restriction in use. 

Estate Agents: Persons authorised to act for another in the buying, selling, renting or leasing of a residential property. 

Home Builder’s Liability: Builder’s liability for defects in construction. Can be actioned by the property owner.

Misdescriptions and Measurements: The right for buyers to get what they paid for and for sellers to avoid inaccurate measurements of land and property.

Mortgage Sale: Property sold by a lender, such as a bank or financial institution, when the mortgagor or borrower defaults on their mortgage payments.

Notices: Formal records such as Notices of Sale that are recorded with the NSW Land Registry Services.

Powers of Attorney: Legal document which allows one individual to manage the financial affairs and well-being of another who lacks capacity, including selling their property. 

Priority: Establishes who has first interest in a property.

Requisitions: Documents providing for actions to be taken so that other documents may then be registered.

Settlement: Date and time a transaction is completed. 

Stamp Duty: Tax payable on real estate–it varies by property value.

Strata Management: The daily management of strata property with multiple units. Usually done by an external strata management company.

Subdivision: Land divided into separately-owned plots.

Termination and Rescission: Undoing or cancelling a contract as opposed to breaching it. 

These are just some of the terms you should be aware of when buying a new property. For even more helpful information and advice from experienced conveyancers, see our free e-book, which is available to download now. 

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