Michelle's musings...

29 January 2021

2020 had started well, I was invited to attend a Property Sisters event in London as the only finance broker. Peritus sponsored the bar (what a surprise!) and it was a brilliant day. There were plans to do more of them and I was looking forward to being part of an exciting group. Rumours and mummerings of Coronovirus were getting hard to ignore. This was in the day when the words furlough, social distance, zoom calls and face masks were not part of our everyday language. 4thMarch 2020 was the last time I visited the office in London. We knew things were strange, but nobody knew how strange it would become.   

On the 23rdMarch, when the Prime Minister informed the country that we were going into Lockdown, the general sense was of incredulity. Lockdown why?  It’s nothing worse than the flu, what an overreaction. But still, we complied, and businesses furloughed their staff for what they hoped would be a short time. Death rates and hospital inpatients became a daily update and we saw more of the PM and his advisors in the following weeks than we had ever before. Don’t go out, or if you do, for no more than an hour. Stay home, work from home, protect the NHS, these were our mantra for months and in the most part, we all did. 

Whilst Peritus saw a slight drop in enquiries, we were still heartened to see deals coming in. Our focus was ensuring that the deals that were in the pipeline were honoured by the lenders. Obviously, there were issues regarding valuation inspections but in the main, lenders and valuers worked hard to ensure there was not too much disruption.

As Spring turned into Summer, we thought it would be the end of it. The sun would kill the virus off, we’d all go back to normal and it would be like nothing happened. Restrictions were lifted but we were all advised to be careful. A new normal started with a lot of companies realising they didn’t need a large city centre office and their staff could all work remotely from home.   

I was invited to speak on the Property Sisters You Tube channel to talk about the state of the commercial mortgage market. This turned into a regular slot and we now Zoom with Ruth Hobbs once a month, alternating between Peritus Corporate and Private Finance to get a feel of the whole of the finance market. 

A couple of months of near normality ensued, although I chose not to travel into London even though the office was open. My journey involves nearly 2 hours on the train (both ways) and I didn’t feel comfortable doing that.  Enquiry levels went back to normal, deals were completing and the general sense was that we had ridden the wave. 

Summer turned to Autumn and the government were at pains to remind us that we had to be careful. Don’t put ourselves at risk, follow the guidelines. Countries around the world were reporting more cases and deaths of Coronavirus.  A vaccine will be the key.  We just need a vaccine and everything will be ok!  In the UK, death rates and hospital inpatients were rising and we knew what was coming. It was only a matter of time. Days before my birthday in November, we went into another lockdown. Nowhere near as severe as the first one but scuppered any celebration plans outside of the house. Ah well, I know I am not the only one! 

Life continued pretty much as it had done all year. Restricted, not able to do much but healthy (thank goodness). The November lockdown was lifted and we were able to go away for a few days early December. Just to be away from the house and have some freedom, to be able to eat in a restaurant and get dressed up(!) was lovely. Even though we had to wear masks all the time! 

As Christmas approached with no parties, no drinks, no meeting up with lenders to celebrate the year we’d had we all knew that the time over Christmas could be disastrous for the NHS.  Rightly or wrongly, it was agreed more people could meet on Christmas Day only. We are seeing the repercussions of that now with the ever increasing inpatient and death rate figures. 

The light on the horizon is the vaccine. With the hope that the top 4 at risk categories will have their first vaccination by mid February (my Mum will hopefully get hers by the end of the January, she can’t wait, she is very scared by the virus now), and that the rest of us will have received our first jab’s by…Summer? Autumn? Who knows, but what we do know is that we are getting there. 

Business will continue, if this last year has taught us anything on a professional front it is that people still want finance, no matter what is going on in the world.

On a personal front, I have realised that whilst I am a home-bird and love nothing more than being curled up with my husband safe in my home, I also miss my friends and family a lot and cannot wait until we are able to enjoy all the events and celebrations we missed out on last year and have to look forward to this year. 

Take care everyone, we are all in this together.