Alex Mei – Fresh Perspectives: CBRE’s Emerging Leaders

April 12, 2023 4 Minute Read

Alex Mei

Much of Alex Mei’s success can be attributed to his tenacity and commitment to client service. 

Working out of CBRE’s Vancouver office, Mei specializes in helping industrial clients across the Lower Mainland. His dedication and creativity recently earned him CBRE’s Western Canada Rookie of the Year award.

We spoke to Mei about building his career in commercial real estate.

What does receiving the Rookie of the Year award mean to you?

I was very grateful to receive that recognition. There are so many people who work hard around me and would be deserving of it. But I’m happy that more people know my name and that I’ve received messages from people who want to connect. It gives me more confidence to deal with clients knowing that the service I’ve been providing has been acknowledged in this way.

How did you get into the commercial real estate industry?

When I was in university, I didn’t know what I wanted to do. I did a generic business undergraduate degree. My girlfriend, now my fiancée, recommended real estate since Vancouver’s a great city for that. I asked around, met a few people for coffee, and ultimately found that brokerage really appealed to me. So that’s the path I decided to follow.

What inspires you about commercial real estate in Vancouver?

I like the idea that people are involved in the transactions of such large assets. Growing up, when people mentioned real estate, I thought of houses and the realtors selling them. But I never really stopped to think that people could sell larger buildings like the factories we drive by and the office buildings we work in. To be involved in something of this magnitude is fascinating.

What is the best advice you’ve received?

Do things your way. Don’t compare yourself to anyone else; everybody has a different style and recipe for success, so what works for someone else may not work for you. You can be inspired by and learn from them and see how you can make their methods your own. But don’t get caught up in replicating exactly what other people are doing.

Have you had any mentors?

My teammates Joel Barnett and Steve Brooke have been my mentors for several years. I learn something new through every conversation we have. They teach me everything they know, which has accelerated my development as a young broker.

Talk about your first deal.

I’d written down about 200 phone numbers on sticky notes and this was the last number on the list. It was the only number on the back of the last sticky note since it didn’t fit on the other side. I had struck out with every other number; nobody wanted to talk to me. But when I called this number, I was surprised to find that someone wanted to meet with me. I brought Joel to a couple meetings with the gentleman and subsequently got the listing. I always think about that deal when I’m feeling tired, frustrated, or just having a tough day. It reminds me to keep calling, to keep talking to people, because the last number could be the next deal. Never give up.

Keep calling people. The last number on your list could be your next deal. - Alex Mei

How do you help your clients?

I focus on being attentive and accessible. If a client is unable to reach you, they’ll reach somebody else. In this line of work, there are no business hours. Sometimes I get calls at 10pm, on the weekends, even on holidays. Being willing to respond to clients when they need advice or have questions has served me well. I don’t think everybody has to do that, and I don’t think every client will reach out on Christmas Eve. But I do think responding to emails as soon as you can and being available to clients is important.

Which trend are you most excited about in your market?

With the limited pool of options in our low-vacancy industrial market, putting in the time and providing better service helps your clients close deals and increases your own market share. If more options were available, it would be harder to separate people who work hard from those who don’t. Right now, you can easily tell who does more deals. That motivates me to work hard so that I don’t become obsolete.

Do you have some tips for others who are just starting their commercial real estate career?

First and foremost – get rid of your ego. Brokerage can be very emotional and stressful. But sometimes you have to set your ego aside and make the smartest decision for your client so they can get the best possible outcome.

You also just have to put in the work. People say real estate is a numbers game. Sure, luck plays a role but if you don’t put yourself in front of opportunities, you’ll never get lucky. Some of the biggest successes I’ve had have been through door knocking. On days where I am reluctant to do canvassing, I remind myself that if I hadn’t done it in the past, I wouldn’t have come across those opportunities. When you do uncover an opportunity, be relentless and keep following up. Business owners get busy and may forget to respond, but it’s our job to remember them.

Go at your own pace – and that pace should be the fastest you can go! Everyone has different circumstances, head-starts, connections, etc. You can’t compare your situation to anyone else’s. Just do better than you did yesterday and maximize your potential so when you reflect at the end of your day, week, month, year or career, there are no regrets.

How are you supporting the next generation?

If young brokers or anyone in the industry has questions, or if something I said resonated with you, feel free to reach out. I’m always willing to chat. Helping even one other person would make me happy.

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