A day in the life of a residential conveyancing trainee

22 February, 2019

0830: Good morning, Resi

I arrive at the Tunbridge Wells office. While making a coffee, I consider the day ahead. Although I prepare a “to-do” list each morning, a day in Resi is subject to continuous change. It is a seat characterised by fast-moving transactions, requiring you to regularly switch between tasks; its dynamism is reflected in the buzz you get from an exchange and the deflation you feel when things fall through. As a trainee, the high turnover of transactions teaches you to manage your own files effectively and stretches your capacity for dealing with a number of matters simultaneously, while the close client contact allows you to develop your soft skills. These valuable experiences are highly transferable across seats.

0845: Pre- exchange preparation

As I turn my computer on, the phone rings. The client of another team member is calling to give her authority to exchange contracts on her sale. I have been given the file while my colleague is out of the office and I am aware that, if we do not exchange on the sale today, the client will lose her onward purchase in Spain; she is understandably anxious.

I call the buyer’s solicitor to check that they are in a position to exchange. I stress my client’s concern and then call the agent to ensure that the rest of the chain is ready to go.

0900: Title report

I check my emails and prioritise tasks for the day. I see that the local authority search result has been returned for one of my leasehold purchase files. It is time to report to the client.

There are a number of residential property precedents, but each property is unique and has its own history, meaning that the report precedent has to be adapted and re-worked. I recognize that there may be a shortfall in the annual service charge accounts and make a note on the file to negotiate a retention with the seller’s solicitor to cover it. The property is being sold by a lender that has taken possession, so I consult the Conveyancing Handbook, as lender sales are rare. I have to request evidence of the lender’s power of sale and explain to the client that this property is sold as seen; it is unlikely that the seller will answer any pre-exchange enquiries.

1115: Team meetings

I attend a meeting with my supervisor to organise the Private Client Division’s next social event. I am in charge of deconflicting dates with other events, as well as securing the venue and caterer.

1145: Exchanging in a chain

I get a call from the buyers’ solicitor on another sale file. I am given a release by the solicitor until 5pm. This time I am exchanging in a chain, acting on both my client’s sale and purchase.

I then call the sellers’ solicitor and exchange on the purchase. I call the buyers’ solicitor back and exchange on the sale. Feeling elevated, I deliver the good news to the client and continue with my post-exchange administrative tasks.

As a residential conveyancing trainee, you are involved in the transaction from client inception to completion and often have exclusive contact with the client, making stronger client relationships possible. The client’s excitement when a transaction progresses positively is contagious; the value afforded to them definitely becomes tangible at exchange of contracts, making it an exciting milestone in the transaction.

1200: Lease extensions

I get a call from our Property Disputes team about a lease extension. A senior associate lets me know that costs have been agreed and it’s “over to us” to do the transactional work. It’s time to prepare signing copy leases and a completion statement to send to the leaseholder’s solicitor.

1230: Deed of easement

I check my emails and see that I have received an undertaking from the solicitors on the other side of a deed of grant of easement file. We act on a number of matters for an established golf club client. Receiving the undertaking means that I can continue drafting the deed of easement, granting rights of access to one of the properties on the edge of the golf course. I finalise the draft and send it to the solicitors for their approval.

1330: FOOD

I head into town for a quick lunch and catch up with a future Cripps Pemberton Greenish trainee.

1415: Exchange

The buyer’s solicitor calls to exchange on my colleague’s sale file. I take the client’s instructions on the completion date and exchange. The client is overwhelmed by the good news and can finally secure her purchase in Spain.

1430: Grazing Licence

I sit down to discuss a draft grazing licence with our team’s agriculture and estates partner. This part of the team deals with landed estates, trust and farming companies, partnerships, and in this case, an individual who wants to implement a formal agreement with a farmer who has historically grazed his sheep on the land surrounding her property.

1600: Title report

With the majority of the report done, I download planning consents relating to the property from the council’s website. I also check the council of mortgage lender’s handbook for specific guidance on ground rent provisions in the lease and draft a letter to the lender to disclose the provisions and comply with our obligations to the lender. Satisfied that I have (finally) completed the draft report, I give the report folder to my supervisor for her to review.

1630: Re-mortgage

I request a redemption statement from the old lender in readiness for completion of the remortgage in a week’s time.

1645: Boundary disputes

I have been assisting our Property Disputes team with a boundary dispute file and have received a signed Land Registry Determined Boundary form from the other side. I lodge the form and determined boundary agreement with the Land Registry.

1700: Research

I check the accuracy of a paragraph in our precedent leasehold title report, relating to original tenant liability, and report my findings to my supervisor.

1740: Signing out

I head off for my HIIT class in Kings Hill.