Helpful Legal Definitions

Legal Definitions

For the convenience of our clients we have compiled a list of legal definitions we hope you will find helpful.


A professional estimate of a property’s market value based upon a market analysis of recent sales of similar properties in the area which is normally provided by a Real Estate Agent.


A public sale of a property that is generally sold to the highest Bidder on the provision that the reserve price for the property has been met or exceeded.

Building Inspection Report

A visual inspection by a licensed Building Inspector detailing the condition of all accessible areas (i.e. roof space, roof exterior, sub floor space, etc) within and around the building with the results being presented in a written report.


A notice registered with the Department of Lands indicating a person’s interest with the associated property which may be noted on the Certificate of Title.

Certificate of Currency

Documentary evidence issued by an Insurer or the Insurer’s Broker confirming that a formal policy is currently in place which may be requested from time to time by a third party (i.e. Financial Institution) to provide proof of coverage.

Certificate of Title

A legal document issued by the Department of Lands identifying the particulars of the title, ownership of the property, any Encumbrances and any registered Dealings.

If the Vendor has a Mortgage attached to the property, the Mortgagee or Financial Institution will hold the document in safe keeping until the loan has been repaid in full by the Vendor.

A Certificate of Title can also be known as a Title Deed.


A series of related transaction which are all dependent upon one another.


Personal property which is not a fixed to any part of the property. For example, furniture, vehicles, collectables, etc.

Common Property

Areas within a unit block owned and shared jointly by all lot owners in a Strata Scheme

Community Titles Scheme

A form of title that allows for a small community to be developed within a subdivision which is made up of lots where owners have access to common facilities such as barbeque areas. It is regulated by the Community Land Development Act 1989.

Contract of Sale

A formal legal document that sets out the terms and conditions for the sale of land which is prepared by the Vendor’s Conveyancer/Solicitor but may be amended by agreement before Contracts are exchanged.


A professional who has the necessary qualifications to represent parties involved in the transaction of a sale and/or purchase of a property.


The formal process of transferring ownership of a property from one person to another.

Cooling Off Period

The official time (usually five (5) business days) that a Purchaser has during which they may rescind the Contract of Sale for a small cost.

Counterpart Contract

A duplicate or copy of a Sale of Land Contract prepared by the Vendor’s Conveyancer/Solicitor and provided to the Purchaser’s Conveyancer/Solicitor.

Department of Lands

The central registry for the ownership of property. Department of Lands can also be known as Land and Property Information or Land Registry.


A sum of money paid by the Purchaser at the time of Contracts being exchanged to secure the property. The Deposit is generally held by the Real Estate Agent.

Deposit Bond

A policy document that shows a Vendor that an Insurance Company will guarantee to pay the deposit amount stipulated on the document to the Vendor in any of the circumstances where the deposit would ordinarily be forfeited by the Purchaser. Acceptance of a Deposit Bond in lieu of cash is at the sole discretion of the Vendor.


Money spent by your Conveyancer/Solicitor to a third party on your behalf. Examples of this can include Land Registry fees, Settlement Agent fees, Statutory Search fees, etc.

Discharge of Mortgage

A legal document prepared and executed by a Mortgagee and given to the Mortgagor when a loan has been repaid. Once the Discharge of Mortgage has been lodged with the Department of Lands, the Mortgagee’s interest will be removed.

Exchange of Contracts

When two identical Contracts, one signed by each party, come together and are dated. The deposit is also paid at this time by the Purchaser. Once Contracts have been exchanged both parties are legally bound by the Contract.

Final Inspection

A visual inspection of the property carried out by a Purchaser prior to settlement taking place to ensure that the property is in the same condition as the date of exchange.


Occurs when, prior to Exchange of Contracts, a Vendor accepts a verbal offer from one potential Purchaser but then accepts a higher offer from someone else.

Joint Tenants

A form of ownership that is owned jointly by two or more people. In the event that one of the owners dies, their share automatically passes to the surviving joint owner(s) irrespective of what the deceased person’s will states.

Land Tax

An annual State Government tax levied on the total land value of all taxable land owned in New South Wales which is payable by the owner of that land. Some exemptions may apply.


A parcel of land.

Memorandum of Transfer

A legal document showing the property’s title particulars which is produced by the Purchaser’s Conveyancer/Solicitor which both the Purchaser and Vendor execute in order for the ownership of the property to be transferred. The transfer of ownership to the Purchaser is complete when the Memorandum of Transfer is registered at the Department of Lands.


A legal document that is lodged and registered with the Department of Land to show the interest of a person or body that has lent money to the owner of the property.


A person or body that lends money to another person or entity (known as a Mortgagor) for the purpose of purchasing a piece of real property.


A person or body that has borrowed money from another person or entity (known as a Mortgagee) for the purpose of purchasing a piece of real property.

Office of Fair Trading

A government agency that safeguards the rights of consumers and advises businesses and traders on fair and ethical practice.

Office of State Revenue

A division of the Department of Finance and Services that is responsible for to help develop policies, implement legislation, collect revenue, process and enforce outstanding fines and penalties.

Owner Builder

A person who owns land who carries out construction work without the employment of a registered builder.

Pest Inspection Report

A visual inspection by a licensed Pest Inspector detailing whether the building is adversely affected by destructive insects such as termites and borers with the results being presented in a written report.

Professional Fees

Money paid to your Conveyancer/Solicitor for the services provided by them.


A buyer of a property.

Registered Proprietor

The person who is registered on Title with the Department of Lands as the legal owner of the property.

Reserve Price

The price stipulated as the lowest acceptable amount by the Vendor for property sold at Auction.

Settlement Agent

A person instructed to attend settlement on behalf of a Purchaser or Vendor.

Settlement Adjustments

The method used to essentially calculate property outgoings (for example, Council Rates, Water Rates, Strata Levies, etc) that the Vendor has paid for which will ensure that both parties are only responsible for paying the outgoings for the time period in which they are in possession of the property.

Settlement Date

The day in which the Purchaser provides the balance of the purchase price to the Vendor in return for any relevant legal documents (for example, the Certificate of Title) and keys to the property.

Special Conditions

Additional clauses included in the Contract for Sale which is prepared by the Vendor’s Conveyancer/Solicitor

Stamp Duty

A State Government tax payable to the Office of State Revenue by the Purchaser which is calculated on the purchase price of the property and generally paid on Settlement. Some exemptions may apply.

Strata Scheme Title

A building or collection of buildings where owners own a small piece (lot/unit) including the airspace bounded by the walls of the unit. All owners and residents in a Strata Scheme must obey the by-laws (set of rules) and it is the Owners Corporation/Strata Manager that manages and controls the building and the owners.

Title Deed

See Certificate of Title


A person or entity who receives property being transferred.


A person or entity who transfer property to another person or entity.


Seller of a property.


Voluntarily give up a certain legal right.

For all your property legal requirements contact:
Aldren Conveyancing Services – Northern Beaches
Phone:      (02) 9984 8840
Fax:           (02) 9984 8850
Mobile:     0422 011 434

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