A day in the life of a commercial real estate trainee

1 March, 2019

8:30am – Getting to the office

A gentle walk up the hill from my flat in town gets me to our offices in ten minutes.  It’s the end of February and I am walking to work in glorious sunshine!  Rewind to this time last year and we were dealing with the ‘Beast from the East’ – just the slight contrast!

8:45am – Preparation for the day ahead

With my coffee in hand, I check my emails and highlight the most important items for the day ahead.  Although I have a daily to-do list, the fast-paced nature of the commercial real estate team means that priorities tend to change from time to time.  I also have a quick glance of the daily property alerts which provide a neat snapshot of the current activity in the real estate industry.

9.30am – Team meeting

As it’s Tuesday I attend the weekly departmental team meeting.  This involves the whole team gathering around the real estate floor discussing various topics from business development to legal know-how.  The meeting was interesting with a number of fee earners commenting on recent transactions they had completed and sharing insight on some of our notable clients.

10am – Gearing up for completion

We act for a governmental body who are seeking to surrender their tenancy of two suites within a commercial office building in Lincoln.  At the same time the landlord wishes to grant a new tenancy to an incoming tenant of one of the suites to be completed simultaneously with the surrender. 

I have received a completion statement containing a breakdown of the service charge arrears and rent arrears due from our client.  I quickly verify the numbers and pick up the phone to our client’s surveyor for formal sign-off.  Following approval, I email our client (copying in their accounts team) requesting the required amount to be sent to our client account in readiness for completion.  I am aware that the client has some internal hurdles to jump through before sending the funds as it is subject to governmental requirements.

11.30am – Selling commercial property

Our larger institutional client is selling its freehold property subject to an occupational tenancy (a large supermarket).  The buyer’s solicitor has raised a number of enquiries from its investigation on the title and occupational documents,  ranging from whether our client has title indemnity insurance to confirmation of whether any environmental liabilities exist.  I answer each query to the extent I can whilst highlighting the enquiries requiring client confirmation.

As is becoming the norm on sales of commercial property in the UK, the buyer is a foreign company and the Seller will need a legal opinion to be provided from a law firm of that particular jurisdiction.  I review the form of legal opinion received and discuss the required amendments with my supervisor.

1pm – Planning talk

The head of our planning team has kindly offered to conduct a know-how session designed for all real estate fee earners.  The session was extremely useful as it highlighted the common pitfalls that planning lawyers encounter on day-to-day transactions and helped remind the fee earners of the fundamental principles underpinning S106 agreements and planning permissions.

2.30pm – Monies in the system

The surrender completion monies have now landed in our client account!  I double-check that the figure is correct and confirm to the landlord that we are holding the required sum. The landlord’s solicitor confirms that he will hold the completion monies to our order pending completion.  To that end, I arrange for our accounts team to send the full amount to his client account.

3.30pm – Licence to occupy

I receive a phone call from our long-standing client.  It is in relation to a licence I have prepared granting our client access over school grounds to carry out on-site development work.  The message is loud and clear, they wish to be in occupation as soon as possible to carry out the work.

4.30pm – Completion

The landlord’s solicitor confirms that he has received the completion monies.  We jump on a call and agree to date the deed of surrender with today’s date, confirming that we will send the original in the post the following day.  I then update our client confirming that the surrender of both suites has successfully completed.

5.30pm – Pro Bono

We take an active lead on pro bono matters at Cripps.  All associated work counts towards our chargeable hour rates which gives a greater incentive to carry out the work with the same commitment and accuracy.  Myself and a partner from the team are assisting an NGO with its 10 year lease of a strip of land in Canterbury.  The intention is to use the land as a nature reserve promoting ecological connectivity.  The lease has been agreed and I set out the headline terms to our client by way of a covering letter.

6.15pm – Signing out for the day

Having finalised my timers for the day, I head home for the evening to catch the football on TV!