Chia-Yi : Real Estate Investor, Residential and Commercial Broker, Empowering women to become the best version of themselves
Meet Chia-Yi Tung, originally from Taiwan she is a Canadian citizen for over 20 years now, thanks to a beautiful act of fate. Chia-Yi has had a successful entrepreneurial journey which led her to open her own brokerage brand called Happy Brokers. An advocate for women, she helps women from first time buyers to seasoned investors navigate the arduous real estate game. Her story is one of gut, resilience, and finding inner peace. Here is Chia-Yi!
Tell me about the path that led you to the entrepreneurial world?
I think I’ve always been an entrepreneur. It started when I created my first job at the age of seven. I was raised by my grandmother, who at the age of six got really sick and I almost lost her at the time. So at the age of six I was already autonomous completely; I was already making breakfast for myself, taking the bus, going to school, coming home. At the age of seven, she came back home and I felt like it was my responsibility to take care of her. I didn’t want her to feel stressed or anything for her to get sick again. We lived on a street that just a few blocks down was a big shoe factory. I went to see the owner of the factory, and asked him for a job. That’s how I have created a lot of jobs for myself.
After that, I got really lucky. When I was in University, I always did very well in school. I didn’t have a lot of money – there was a teacher at the time who came to me and said “Chia-Yi you’re not going to believe this, for the first time in the history of Taiwan, we have signed a contract with the Canadian government and were going to start a program with Canada to send students there to study, we are choosing 2 students out of Taiwan to go to Montreal and study for free. I went to read the contest, and saw that I had each criteria except for one. The fee was $200. I didn’t have it. So I went back to the teacher and told her “ thank you for thinking of me, but I won’t be able to apply” and I didn’t explain the reason why because at the time in Taiwan it was taboo to speak about money, we never spoke about money. You can’t say that you can’t afford something. Three days later, the same teacher came to see me and showed me that on the paper it said “paid in full”. You are registered! You’re going.
That’s how I was chosen out of two students, and came to Montreal to study all expenses paid.
“Over the years, I’ve done so many different things ; I have a lot of interests and my journey is not so linear. I turn left, right, forward, backwards to get to where I am today. With time, I realized looking back how it brought me exactly to where I am.”
Because I am now better able to understand people. Everyone is unique, so when you become interested in different industries, personality, cultures, it makes you such an open minded person and makes you connect with others. That’s how I am able to connect them with other people, who also have different interests and cultures but somehow they connect. I have this ability. For example an engineer and an artist. They see thing completely differently, but to be able to find a commonality so that they can work together. That’s what I am skilled to do.
When do you think you developed or honed this skill?
Definitely in my 20’s when I came to Montreal ; because I was traveling so much, and met so many different people it opened up my mind. I lived in Shanghai, in Seattle, meeting people and meeting other cultures and I always listened to others.
Since I was very young, I’ve always had this fire inside of me, where I need to create. I need to innovate, I never accept the standard quo, not because somebody has already done it one way means that’s the best way – I always challenge the status quo and ask myself how can I do it better? Or simply improve it?
I realized that people who wanted to work internationally with other countries had a lot of barriers, and I had this ability to bring everyone together and put them on the same page. I came back to Montreal and opened my first company, Orchimedia, which became a consulting service that would fill the gap between Montreal and China business ventures. I had a lot of people who discouraged me. People in Canada thought China was still considered “cheap” and find’t understand that China was where we wanted to export things to, not the opposite. They couldn’t understand it and people weren’t receptive to it. They would say things like “you’re crazy. There’s no market in China! Why would you want us to go to China” This was 20 years ago.
Which led her to start Happy Brokers, a real estate platform that focuses on all real estate transactions, commercial and residential.
What would be your advice for women in business today?
It’s absolutely necessary that a woman in business be very independent. Us women, we function a lot with our emotions. I find that when we have a financial security, our emotions are more stable. Once our emotions are more stable, it permits us to put good energy in the right place to realize our goals. But when we have financial issues, our emotions are all over the place and we cannot focus on our goals. If I have one advice to give, for women entrepreneurs they have to become financially independent. Real estate is definitely one of those avenues. It creates millionaires all over the world because it makes passive income!
Of course if we don’t have the knowledge, or the education that’s when it doesn’t work. If you tell a woman to buy a triplex [in Quebec] it costs about $800K-1M right now. A man will say “let’s go! What do we need to make it happen, etc and he does it”. A woman will say “oh my goss but $1M is so expensive! No no! Just put $200K and the rest is a mortgage from the bank. The rent coming in will already pay for the mortgage per month. You make money while you sleep. Every year, the market goes up 5-10% let’s say which is very conservative by the way, so for the next 7-8 years the market will be up 5% let’s say. Now if you invest $200k today on a $1M property, your property might worth seven times your initial investment within five years. It’s incredible. It’s just that women don’t know! Once they start to realize this, and get it, and practice it, they stop being insecure and they say “wow I’m actually really good at this”. Of course you are!! All you need is practice. If you don’t start, you won’t get it. So just START!
Here’s an example : my first condo I bought it for $122K and sold it a few years later for $196k. This was my primary residence so it was tax-free. As long as it’s your primary residence you don’t pay tax on it. This is in Canada benefits, that women don’t even know to take advantage of!
Do you give consultation to women when they work with you?
Yes absolutely. I work with a professional team that ranges from mortgage brokers, to financial analysts, etc. We’re here for all of this.
Do you work with partner brokers outside of Quebec?
Yes. I work with real estate agents who work in the province / city required to make the deal.
What is the goal for you in Happy Brokers for the next five years?
The most important thing, I believe is to always love what I do. Keeping balance is the hardest thing to do – doesn’t matter how long I’m in the game, 5,10,30 years I want to enjoy what I am doing. When I am happy, I have a good energy. That good energy can influence my team in a Good way and it creates a ripple effect.
How do you develop that?
Your foundation, your inner peace. A lot of people might gain financial success but they lost it somewhere else. Their health suffers. What does it matter if you’re financially successful but you are not happy? You don’t have relationships and connections with others? When you are balanced, happy, in a good place there is nothing you cannot achieve! It must be a shared philosophy with your team.
You also have to know when to clean up your team. I was never really good at it. Today how I learn to be better is by listening to my gut feeling. My intuition. I used to not know how to read others, and know their intent. Those people can drain you. Today I am still not good at reading people because I love everyone but when I read that someone has a bad intention, I cut it right away.For example, a client I signed already and he starts to be inappropriate or has negative intent – I cancel the contract. If a subcontractor behaves inappropriately or I notice that he/she doesn’t have the best intentions – I’ll leave the money on the table and I’ll walk away! No amount of money is worth taking your energy. When you are effected by someone else’s bad energy, you are not in peace. It becomes a mirror in everything you do during that time. I have suffered so much! I think the problem with women is we play such a consulling role, and we are so dedicated to prove ourselves! So we say : I’ll adapt, I’ll make this work, I will fix people. NO NO NO! People don’t change. If it is a good person, they are worth you helping them – but if not you will lower your frequency and hurt yourself to fix them.
How can you tell the difference between good and bad people?
What is success to you?
It’s fully internal. How you feel every day, today, where I’m at. I feel successful. Because I feel good inside. I love what I do.
What inspires you?
Multiple people inspire me. There’s a Chinese woman named Zhang Xin. She’s the CEO of Soho in China. She’s a real estate developer. Also definitely Jack Ma! He’s all about collaboration! He built a beautiful platform where people can work with one another! How inspiring is that?!
Follow Chia-Yi on Instagram here
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Inspiring & empowering women worldwide.
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