Trainee Blog: A Real Estate seat in unprecedented times

Trainee Blog: A Real Estate seat in unprecedented times

Now in the Banking, Restructuring and Insolvency team, it has been useful to compare my experiences in my second ‘lockdown seat’ with my first in Transactional Real Estate (or, as it is affectionately known, TRE). After around only two weeks in my TRE seat, and a handful of introductions over tea and printer breaks, the coronavirus lockdown required us all to work from home.

Staying updated

I worked in the part of the TRE team which predominantly focuses on secured lending. It was rewarding to work on matters which had long-established client relationships. The matters move very quickly which provides the chance to see something from instruction to completion.

Following the switch to remote working, the lending transactions remained largely unchanged, save for providing reassurance for both borrowers and their solicitors that funds were unaffected by the sudden economic changes.

Lease and sale/purchase transactions, on the other hand, did see some changes:

  • some residential purchases fell through, with purchasers regrettably citing tentative income circumstances;
  • certain leases required a revision to their ‘rent commencement dates’ and provisions for changing concepts like the ‘easing of lockdown restrictions’, government policies and vaccination roll-outs; and
  • the Land Registry made some changes to its processes to facilitate remote working, such as to identity verification and execution with traditional ‘wet ink’.

Staying alert

It was crucial to remain up-to-date with the changing climate and to consider any potential consequences on clients’ affairs. Clients with a chain transaction faced the risk of transactions falling through, whilst clients with commercial rental spaces occasionally required provisions to ensure their rental income was safeguarded. Trainees can play a key role by familiarising themselves with matters and its progress, such as checking if there had been any other interested parties in a house sale (like a second highest bidder or absent attendee in an auction sale) and preparing to carry out new conflict checks and re-draft contractual documentation should the need arise.

Staying in touch

All teams across the Firm began hosting virtual catch-ups. The Trainees already have access to the confidential Trainee Liaison Network and a fortnightly catch-up with each other and the Trainee Principle. These catch ups quickly switched to video-conference platforms which provided continuity and reassurance, and the chance to meet everyone’s pets!

Meanwhile the Firm’s weekly internal enewsletter began providing materials for wellbeing, organising fundraisers for our charity of the year, the Charlie Waller Trust and offering humorous insights into colleagues’ lives during lockdown. Michelmores’ Trainee Twitter is a useful tool for our readers to gain glimpses into life on the inside!

Staying human

Finally, all communication, whether with colleagues, clients or counterparties included genuine well-wishes, a new level of commercial co-operation and discussions around wellbeing, which continue as we have gone through our different lockdowns together.