jargon post

Understanding conveyancing jargon

Jargon – we love it and we hate it. Jargon can serve a necessary function in a particular group, who use it to quickly communicate with others who understand that jargon. But when you don’t understand, it can quickly become problematic, confusing and alienating. Nowhere is this more true than when it comes to conveyancing.

Conveyancing is chock full of legal jargon that can sometimes feel overwhelming to the uninitiated. If you’re feeling confused by the terms often used by conveyancing solicitors, this handy list of conveyancing jargon explained should help.

Contract of Sale

A contract of sale is a legally binding document that covers the transfer of a property from a seller to a buyer. It will contain:

  • The purchase price
  • The property specifications if applicable
  • The terms of agreement between the parties
  • The settlement date
  • Any special conditions

Making an offer

Making an offer is just what it sounds like – when a prospective buyer signs a contract of sale to purchase a property. It is not always accepted by the seller, but if it is, it forms a binding agreement between seller and buyer. The seller may reject the offer due to reasons of price or special conditions.


An encumbrance constitutes a claim on the property by someone apart from the owner. A mortgage is one such example. Other common examples include leases, easements and covenants.


An easement occurs when a third party is granted the right to use part of someone else’s property for a specific purpose, and can sometimes restrict the manner in which a property is used. A common example is the right of a water authority to use someone’s land to supply drainage and sewerage services.

Cooling off period

Property buyers are given five days in Qld to change their mind after signing the Contract of Sale, something which is known as the cooling off period. There is a small cost to using the cooling off period ( .25% of the purchase price) , but it is hardly significant in terms of the price of the property.

Certificate of Title

A Certificate of Title states who owns a property. This document also shows any mortgages, covenants or third-party interests in the property.

Discharge/release of mortgage

A bank holding a mortgage over a property will provide a discharge/release of mortgage document once the loan has been paid off in full.


A property settles after the buyer pays the purchase price, in exchange for the seller transferring ownership of the property to the buyer. Settlement is the day that the buyer legally takes possession of their new property.


These are additional costs incurred by the conveyancing solicitor or conveyancing lawyer throughout the process of selling or buying a property, and must be paid by the relevant seller or buyer. Disbursements might include title searches, building and pest inspections, certificate fees, registering the title transfer or survey reports.


Fixtures are items that cannot be easily removed from a property, such as carpets, ovens, dishwashers etc. These usually cannot be taken by the seller, but must be left for the buyer.

Transfer duty

This is simply a government tax that must be paid on all property transactions. Stamp duty differs from state to state in Australia.

Of course, this is just a short list of the jargon that conveyancing solicitors use, but it should give you more of an understanding of the process of conveyancing. To talk to someone about your conveyancing questions, get in contact with GM Law here.

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