Entry Level: Colliers agent Peter Muench finds homes for burgeoning tech firms

A day in the life of realtor Peter Muench, the go-to guy for growing tech players

A day in the life of one of Vancouver’s savviest realtors

The fall after he graduated from the University of St. Andrews in Scotland with an MA in economics, Peter Muench started work as an associate at the Vancouver branch of Toronto-based real estate giant Colliers International. That was five years ago. Since then, the North Vancouver native has overseen countless deals, most involving local tech businesses moving into new offices. There’s a certain amount of trust involved in each of these transactions, and though his youthful face and trendy haircut give the impression of a neophyte, he’s anything but. 

9 a.m. Colliers agents spend much of their mornings doing research. As such, Muench has combed through more than a few studies of how to improve employees’ lives. Among the theories he’s encountered: white noise boosts productivity, and sitting near a window can yield 46 extra minutes of sleep a night. “It’s about understanding what’s on the cutting edge of workplace strategy,” says Muench, now a senior associate. “What are Microsoft, Google and Facebook doing with their workplaces that companies of 30 to 40 people can do?”

11 a.m. Often that research coalesces into preparing surveys for clients and analyzing the data that Colliers gets back. A few years ago, one such firm was a large, Burnaby-based software company whose office was no longer big enough to sustain its growth. “What came out of the survey was a strong preference for being on transit. And we had naturally assumed that that was because people want to get to work easier,” Muench recalls. “But what came out of the research was that it was kind of a proxy for the vibrancy of community.” The two parties realized that an expansion of the company’s existing space was the best option, and Muench brokered a deal with the landlord that included longer SkyTrain shuttle hours, a commercial kitchen and custom yoga classes.

Lunch “My goal is always to be eating lunch with a client, or a thought leader, because I’m only as good as what I know,” Muench says. It’s also important to talk with developers, landlords and building owners, he adds, to keep up-to-date on what sites people are working on. Muench counts Gastown’s Flying Pig among his favourite spots.

2 p.m. On this July afternoon, Muench swings by a Vancouver tech firm’s headquarters in his blue 2019 Subaru to pick up three female staff members and take them to two spaces up for lease. He’s been working with this 100-employee outfit since it had 15 staff, and he’s already helped it move twice. The rapport is evident: between talk about ripping out walls and ceilings to create a more open atmosphere, Muench and his clients engage in playful banter, with them teasing him about a “girlfriend” who may or may not exist.

4.30 p.m. After touring the two premises, Muench and the clients will decide on one and spend the rest of the evening drafting a proposal for the landlord. “It’s a question of where can we drive the most value,” he says, explaining that real estate usually takes up a fraction of a company’s budget compared to salaries. There’s a bigger query for Muench to reckon with, too, and it influences almost everything he does: “How does the company expect to grow? Because all my work is with tech firms, that’s the toughest question to answer. It’s like looking into a crystal ball full of sand—but that’s what makes it so exciting.”