In Conversation With... Mark Cohen, Managing Partner, TCS Marketing Systems

By Wayne Karl
October 21, 2021

As the housing industry is changing due to market dynamics, COVID and other issues, so too is the marketing and selling of new homes and condos. There’s a clear trend, in fact, in this end of the business becoming more modern and sophisticated – and even high tech.

We sat down with Mark Cohen, managing partner of TCS Marketing Systems, for his insights on how builders and marketers are evolving to meet the demands of today’s increasingly discerning homebuyers.

You have a lot of experience in this business… How do you assess the housing industry right now? The past two years have been strong in terms of performance, but there are challenges with supply, pricing, and of course COVID…

COVID in some ways gave people some breathing room last year, but the market now is hot as ever. Immigration to Canada is resuming, which means we go back into the supply and demand debate. There just isn’t enough supply to meet the demand with or without COVID, and that is going to continue to send prices upward. There were some observations of people moving out of the city with work-from-home becoming more mainstream, but we have already seen a gradual return to the office and our sector is back to pre-pandemic levels.

If the various levels of government reached out to you for insight or advice on how to address the affordability issue, what would you suggest?

There are so many levels to the affordability discussion, but if I had the opportunity to provide insight, it would start at the municipal level. The immigration numbers are only going to grow, and developers are not able to build fast enough. The time and cost it takes to get zoning and approvals is a huge hindrance in bringing product to market. Another aspect that can be improved is a simplified program for first-time homebuyers, which is currently not aligned with the pricing we are seeing for real estate across the country.

What does your rebranded company, TCS Marketing Systems, entail and how did this come about?

Our company was formed 15 years ago, and this year, we underwent a rebrand to prepare for the next 15. COVID-19 shook our world, but in a way brought us all closer together. As a team, we took the opportunity to look inwards and reflect on how we could better contribute to our developer clients and the real estate agent community at large. Through this rebrand, we not only updated our look, but added highly skilled members to our team, increased our range of services, and now include a deeper integration of qualitative and quantitative research for each of our clients.

How does this approach differ from other real estate marketing firms out there?

We have a tagline that says, “Experience the difference, the difference is experience.” That really sums it up. When a developer hires us, we work with them like a partner and, with our years of experience, are able create customized sales programs to support them every step of the way until the very last unit is sold.

TCS Marketing Systems offers a unique advantage to its clients, as every member of the executive team has years of working in-house for some of the GTA’s largest developers in various roles, such as marketers, researchers, architects, strategists, tech experts and sales personnel. They understand from the developer’s perspective what it takes to achieve success. This translates into building long-standing relationships with clients who trust our proven track record.

There seems to be an increasing focus on marketing and sales of new homes and condos, with companies such as TCSMS and others. What’s behind this evolution?

The sales and marketing programs have been getting stronger over the past two decades and developers want to get the bulk of their sales done quickly. Virtual tours are replacing sales centres and renderings continue to get more realistic, but there is still the human connection needed to close the deal. That is where companies like ours come in. Our expansive network of agents is engaged to ensure each project receives exposure on the local, national and global stage. As part of our commitment, we provide superior resources and tools to our network to make sure the projects we sell are a resounding success.

How is it good for prospective homebuyers?

Buying a home is one of the biggest decisions one makes in their life, and having agents you trust is so very important to homebuyers. We truly believe in the value of the human connection. These relationships are key for investors and end-users alike and when there is an advisory firm such as ours on the sales end of the project, there is a level of confidence buyers can have with that project they are looking into.

You’re in charge of the marketing and sales of Debut in Barrie, which is an up-and-coming market. Where are the next emerging hot spots – in terms of area or property type?

Midrise is a hot commodity right now. It just happens to be the least cost-effective product to build. We are seeing buyers looking for flex space and greenspace, and stacked towns are definitely what seems to meet those criteria, while staying on the more affordable end. The market across the GTA has been hot all year, but we are seeing places such as Barrie, Scarborough, Etobicoke and Whitby be popular options for those looking to live a quieter lifestyle, but have access to city amenities.


How have you managed during the pandemic? Taken on any new hobbies or acquired new skills?

I bought a cottage in summer 2018. It provided a safe haven for me and my children. Because I am used to being constantly on the move in the GTA, I bought a second Peloton for the cottage, as it helps me stay active during this pandemic.

What, or who, is your greatest inspiration for what you do?

My three kids. Seeing them grow and mature into young individuals is truly inspiring. From a business perspective, I’m motivated by quietly doing great things at every project, while understanding the responsibility that comes with adding to the landscape in any community. One of the most rewarding things for me is watching our team members assert themselves and provide leadership and guidance to our clients. Money is not the principal motivator; however, it is a necessary part of life. My three kids, like most, will need help when it comes to buying a home. That time is coming. There’s a new meaning to “Freedom 55” as I see it. I’ll be free when my youngest is 55…

What’s on your reading lists these days?

As our world has gone digital, particularly since the pandemic, I’m reading industry articles daily, as well as studying the various marketing efforts out there. I haven’t had time to focus on reading anything else, but that’s on my fall agenda.

About Wayne Karl

Wayne Karl is an award-winning writer and editor with experience in real estate and business. Wayne explores the basics – such as economic fundamentals – you need to examine when buying property.

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