By Top Agent Staff
Jason Hughes, president and CEO of Hughes Marino, the largest commercial real estate firm exclusively dedicated to tenant and buyer services in San Diego, still remembers when he first became enamored with office buildings. “I didn’t come from a well-off family. I was in a program in junior high school where I was paired with a mentor, who was a commercial real estate broker with Cushman & Wakefield in Northern California. Once, there was a ‘take your student to work day’ and he took me out with him for the day. I will never forget how passionate he was about office buildings. He was a super neat guy, and I never looked at office buildings the same ever again,” he recalls.
“Office buildings became so much more than concrete and glass. They were where businesses grew and thrived, and people inside were creating amazing things and making incredible things happen every day,” he continues. Therefore, as soon as Jason turned 18, he earned his real estate license, and shortly thereafter his broker’s license. By the time he was an undergrad at Pepperdine University, Jason had an internship with Cushman & Wakefield in Century City, CA.
Upon graduation, Jason married his college sweetheart (Hughes Marino Chief Operating Officer Shay Hughes). “I was lucky enough to be able to convince her to marry me, and her family was in San Diego, so we decided to move down here,” he recalls with a smile.
From there Jason set out to carve a niche in San Diego. “I knew that all successful commercial real estate brokers had a niche. Some focused on purchases for restaurants, some specialized in big-box stores, while others worked with purchases or sales for institutional investors. I focused on representing tenants,” he says.
That was in the late 1980s. Since then, Jason has not only become the owner of the largest tenant representation company in San Diego, but he’s also changed commercial real estate law in California by conceiving of SB 1171, which was signed by Governor Brown in 2014. The law mandates that commercial real estate brokers disclose dual agency representation to all clients.
“Residential brokers in California were required to disclose to clients if they were representing both the buyer and the seller. However, no such law existed that required commercial brokers to disclose whether they were representing the seller or the landlord when they were also working with tenants and buyers. I’m very proud that this law will increase transparency and fairness in our industry when it takes effect in 2015.”
“We have always rejected the dual-agency model, as it is impossible to be a fiduciary to both the seller and buyer, or the landlord and tenant,” he says. “My company has only represented tenants for the past 25+ years, so this law didn’t really benefit me. It was written to ensure that those tenants throughout the state who aren’t working with us have all of the facts when choosing their commercial real estate broker,” he says.
Indeed, Jason has transacted leases and purchases for tens of millions of square feet. He has negotiated complex, high-value leases; early renegotiations; expansion and contraction negotiations; office, hotel and condominium purchases; participating loan structuring; lease and loan workouts; government negotiations; anchor high-rise lease negotiations; build-to-suit developments and project finance negotiations.
Jason has also made it his life’s work to educate consumers about the ins and outs of commercial real estate. He’s been a featured columnist for the San Diego Business Journal and a weekly columnist for the San Diego Daily Transcript. He has been awarded countless awards, including: Most Admired CEO by the San Diego Business Journal; Broker of the Year by The Irvine Company; SD Metro’s 40 Under 40 (twice); San Diego’s Top 120 Most Influential People (San Diego Daily Transcript); and 50 People to Watch by San Diego Magazine. All told, Jason has written well over 100 articles and he has been interviewed and/or profiled in dozens of local, regional and national publications, including the Wall Street Journal.
Not surprisingly, Jason has become one of the most easily recognizable faces of the commercial real estate industry in California. But he says the secret to his success can be boiled down to hard work, enthusiasm, and a great deal of support from his family and community.
“There is no short cut. The commercial real estate industry is not for the faint of heart. It requires endurance, tenacity, intelligence and a willingness to outwork everyone else. But it’s an incredibly exciting business. There’s high risk and high reward, yet I don’t know of any other business where you get to work with so many fascinating, smart people at the highest level. We work with CEOs, managing partners, and C-level executives, and we get to learn about and understand their businesses. Then we have the opportunity to get them excited and passionate about their office space.”
These days, Jason is busier and more grateful than ever. With two of his three children working as commercial real estate brokers in the family business (his youngest is still in college), Jason is quick to credit both his family and his incredible team at Hughes Marino for the company’s success. “Everyone works as a team here. We have allied ourselves with the best of the best in the commercial real estate space, and we work as a synchronized team, which gives us incredible horsepower,” he says.
Suffice to say, Hughes Marino is expanding rapidly. In addition to their San Diego, Orange County, and Downtown Los Angeles offices, Hughes Marino recently opened an office in Century City, where Jason first interned years ago, and another in the San Francisco Bay Area, where he first fell in love with commercial real estate.
“It’s a great time in my life. My amazing wife and three amazing kids have stuck by me as we’ve grown, and I’m incredibly proud of the company we’ve built. We’re changing the commercial real estate industry for the better, and that is really rewarding.”
This article originally appeared in Top Agent Magazine, Commercial Edition.
Jason Hughes is chairman, CEO, and owner of Hughes Marino, an award-winning commercial real estate company with offices across the nation. A pioneer in the field of tenant representation, Jason has exclusively represented tenants and buyers for more than 25 years. He writes about topics in commercial real estate from a tenant’s perspective on his blog, Downtown Dirt. Contact Jason at 1-844-662-6635 or firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more.