The Eu/Ma Family, CCIMs
Eu/Ma Family is a family of CCIMs consisting of father and husband Larry Eu, CCIM, mother and wife, Lien Ma, CCIM, and daughter Megan Eu, CCIM. As a result of business-owner-inspired training at a very young age and being dissatisfied with early retirement, Larry Eu, CCIM, and Lien Ma, CCIM decided to pursue a career in commercial real estate.
Following their second year of retirement, Larry and Lien found themselves asking if they were happy and enjoyed living a leisurely life. They decided to fall back on Larry's earlier entrepreneurial training and sought business ownership through commercial real estate and the CCIM Designation. Larry and Lien then went on to inspire their daughter, Megan Eu, to pursue her path to the CCIM Pin in a record time. She recently received her CCIM Pin and Designation at the 2023 Midyear Governance Meetings in Boston.
We had the privilege of sitting down with the Eu/Ma family to learn a little more about their story, how they came to work in commercial real estate, and how the CCIM Designation and involvement with The CCIM Institute have helped benefit their careers and make new connections in the industry.
What led you to a career in commercial real estate?
Larry: It was not really planned. Lien and I retired after selling our construction company in 2012. The first year of retirement was fabulous. By the second year, we were getting bored and asked ourselves if this was what we wanted for the rest of our lives. We thought of working in real estate, and more than ten years later, that idea has evolved into our current portfolio of companies.
Megan: I started out part-time in real estate while pursuing my bachelor's at the University of Washington, Seattle. It was something that continued to interest me, especially in the realm of commercial real estate, and decided to continue with it even after I graduated.
Did you always see yourself in commercial real estate?
Larry: Commercial real estate is a great career choice. Both Lien and I were encouraged from an early age to be entrepreneurs. Our objectives were always to become business (brokerage) owners. Going through the process of learning commercial real estate as a salesperson is a necessary step toward our end goals.
Megan: No, I did not. I was originally working towards a different career path, but after getting some experience by doing it part-time. It was something that interested me more than the path I was working towards.
How did you hear about The CCIM Institute?
Larry: We always aspire to be the best in what we do and were doing transactions that others found difficult. Soon, we were getting deals through word of mouth. Although the deals were coming in, we wanted to be recognized as the best in class. After some research, we found the CCIM Designation as a way to be recognized as leaders in the industry.
Megan: The CCIM Institute was something I had often overheard from conversations between my parents who are both CCIMs and are both involved with the Institute.[GF1] After changing my career trajectory in university it seemed like the next best step.
How has the CCIM Designation and your involvement in The CCIM Institute helped influence your career?
Larry: [GF2] Being Chapter president and volunteering with The CCIM Institute has been very rewarding. We get referrals from and work on deals with fellow CCIMs and in my opinion, it is because of the trust and bond we built spending time together as part of The CCIM Institute family.
Lien: Obtaining the CCIM Designation has provided recognition among our peers. More brokers are willing to do a deal with me knowing that I have the knowledge and experience to get the job done.
Megan: I recently received my CCIM Designation at the Boston conference in April, and I am not currently involved in The CCIM Institute. However, in the process of taking the required classes for the Designation, I made various connections with candidates and Designees, some of which have planted the seeds of recent deals.
Can you tell us about your favorite conference/event presented by The CCIM Institute and why? How were you involved with this conference/event?
Larry: I enjoy attending the Midyear and Annual Governance Meetings. I have been attending meetings of The CCIM Institute conferences since October 2018 when I was Pinned, and Lien has been attending since April 2019 when she was also Pinned. We have not missed one conference and enjoyed the committee work we did there. Covid-19 did not even stop us. The Governance Meetings are platforms where we meet with friends, dine, wine, make deals, and party.
Lien: I enjoyed all the Governance Meetings that I have attended. I have been part of the local CCIM chapter board since I was Pinned and have been the chair of the scholarship committee. Starting this year, I am on the Designation and International Committee.
Megan: I would have to say my favorite Governance Meeting of The CCIM Institute would have to have been the 2023 Midyear Governance Meeting in Boston as that is where I received my CCIM Designation.
What is one piece of advice you would give to someone starting out commercial real estate?
Larry: I would advise those starting out in commercial real estate to try out the different asset classes to determine if there is one that they would like.
Megan: Find a mentor who has been involved in the commercial real estate world, especially a CCIM Designee. They will be essential to helping you build important foundations for your career in commercial real estate.
What is one piece of advice you would give to someone who is first starting their path to the CCIM Pin?
Larry: Plan your path to the Pin as soon as possible and seek out help and advice from a CCIM Designee - we are always more than happy to help and mentor.
Lien: Reach out to the local CCIM chapter and speak with other CCIM Designees. We are here to help. There are scholarships available as well through your local chapters or through the CCIM Foundation.
Megan: Plan out your path. One thing I've heard from other candidates who have been working to get their Pin is that they either do not have enough transactions and have finished taking the classes, or they take classes too far apart, so much so they are not able to remember things they learned from CI 101 when they eventually get to CI 104.
What is the most important lesson you have learned over your career?
Larry: Not every dollar should be earned. There are some transactions that you wished you had not touched from day one - trust your own gut instinct. If you feel that this is not one transaction you should do, walk away, there will always be others.
Lien: Communication, be it with your clients or your peers, is how the deal can get across the finish line.
Megan: Connections are especially important. You never know who you might need to know, or who knows who that could be a great connection in the future.
What would you consider the biggest accomplishment in your career thus far?
Larry: My biggest accomplishment is retiring at age 41.
Megan: Getting my CCIM Designation and doing it within the time that I had set for myself.
What are your career goals and aspirations?
Larry: I am at the twilight of my career, and I am at the stage of having fun and giving back to my community.
Megan: I currently do a lot of Tenant rep for smaller tenants, and I hope to represent larger tenants and assist them with their expansion plans, not only in Washington state, but also nationally. I also want to move more into the investment sales side of commercial real estate.
How would your clients describe you?
Larry: Some of them call me “very professional.” Others use terms like “goal getters” and “no nonsense.” They are just super kind in their words. At the end of the day, I treat every client as a friend and enjoy working with them to get them what they like or solving their pain points.
Lien: Some of my clients say they have never encountered such a broker; I would rather not get a commission for a deal than to talk my client into getting into a bad deal.
We have heard that your family may hold a record for the fastest completion time from CI-101 to the CCIM Designation and pin. (from Larry's LinkedIn post on Midyear 2023) Care to tell us about that process and what helps to keep you motivated?
Larry: Personally, for me, once I set my mind to something, I want to get there asap, even if I must sacrifice sleep or social time to get there. I got my Pin in 5 months and 10 days and Lien got her Pin in 7 months and 5 days. I am proud that Megan got hers in 3 months and 9 days. I am a strategic planner, so it is always about deciding and sticking to a plan, and making sure we are on track and not deviating from the plan. When I signed up for the CCIM Designation, I knew my portfolio was ready, I had planned when and where I would take all my classes. Just a matter of going through the process of doing it.
Megan: I started with CI 101 in January, in Minneapolis, and I took 104 next in El Paso Tx, in mid-February. For me, this was very helpful as the material in these two classes built upon each other, so it made the most sense to take them one after the other. About a week after taking CI 104, I was in Portland taking CI 102, and about two weeks later I was taking my last class, CI 103 in Vancouver, BC. It was a bit of a hectic process for me, but the short timeline ensured everything was fresh in my brain by the time the exam came around. My largest motivation was to earn my Designation quicker than my father did, which was in 5 months, so the “timeframe” I had set for myself from the start of the first class to the Pinning was anything less than 5 months.
Tell us a little about 8 Street Group and your family's involvement? (family commercial real estate business? the founding and the idea behind it?)
- Is this a family commercial real estate business?
- How did the founding come about or the idea behind 8 Street Group?
- What's the biggest challenge you're facing in your role/business/project right now and how are you tackling it?
- What's one thing your business/successful venture did that you didn't expect?
Larry: 8 Street Group is our holding company - a portfolio of five wholly owned companies and four joint venture companies. Wholly owned companies are two real estate brokerages, a property management company, a syndication company, and a technology company. JV companies are two sustainable companies, a solar company, a data center development company which we have equity stakes in partnership with established brands.
We started out with only one real estate brokerage, and it was just that company for several years. In the last few years, friends and clients pushed deals to us that don't fit into the profile of our unique brokerage, so we established new entities to do deals in, both for liability protection and to pass to our three children in future (I am too idealistic). In the last two years, we have had partners come to me and say “Larry, we want to do business with you.” Thus, the four JV companies were born. It was flattering for them to do that - they are established brands with their own teams, and my contributions were my real estate expertise, my network, and my strategic planning and my knocking on doors. I asked them, why me? There are thousands of real estate experts out there. Their replies were largely the same, that they know I have integrity and they can rely on me to get the job done. I thank them for their vote of confidence.
We experimented with different business models for our real estate brokerages. We tried our hands at recruiting brokers and growing our brokerages the traditional way. We have given up on that approach - it was not worth my time for the returns. Our brokerages are now boutique model and very much a family business, with just six licensees. Same with our property management firm - a service for our regular clients who entrusted us with their real estate acquisition and disposition. One team worthy of mention and which I am very proud of, is our retail and restaurant real estate team. They have built up a clientele of large international, national, and regional brands, working on deals across state lines. They have utilized technologies and tools to assist these clients with their national site selection requirements. Their expertise and knowledge in retail real estate and leasing is comparable with any of the large brokerage brands out there - albeit with a personal touch.
Can you tell us a little bit more about your involvement with the CCIM Washington chapter? What are some ways you connect locally with the chapter?
Larry: I was the 2022 CCIM Washington State chapter President, and in 2024, I will be the Region 1 RVP which the Washington State chapter is a part of.
Someone up there must have liked me. I have also had the opportunity to sit on the board of the National Associations of REALTORS®, Washington REALTORS®, and Fiabci USA-Seattle. This year, I was invited to the board of The CCIM Foundation.
I am trying to venture outside of real estate and trade associations and contribute to community and society at large. Early this year, I volunteered for a school board of directors and after an interview, I was invited onto the board. Within a few months, I was elected Chairman of the Board when the current chair left. It was a humbling experience.
We'd like to take a moment and thank Larry Eu, CCIM, Lien Ma, CCIM, and Megan Eu, CCIM, for taking the time to answer our questions and provide their feedback on what being a CCIM Designee means to them and other commercial real estate professionals.
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