Simon Mass has a reputation within the building industry that spans across North America. He’s known as the creator of volume pre-construction sales investing for qualified high-net-worth individuals and families.

Mass is the CEO and co-founder of The Condo Store Group of Companies (TCS), a leader in pre-construction real estate investments in North America, with offices in Toronto and South Florida. TCS has been serving its clients for more than 20 years and has been directly involved with sales of over $25 billion in the pre-construction condominium space.

Mass will present at Elevate, a first-of-its-kind conference celebrating the art of high-rise living Dec. 4 to 6 in Miami Beach, Florida. Livabl spoke to Mass about his upcoming participation in the event.

How does one market to a potential buyer in the luxury high-rise market in 2023?

It all comes down to the message, which has to be synonymous with the project; opulence and exclusivity are the keys to this particular target audience.

One of the ways to the heart of a high-net-worth purchaser is to attach brands that make the offering even more rare and exclusive. In the past five-plus years, developers have learned that a well-known international brand will bring a much larger audience pool to their projects. As a result, in certain markets, such as the United Arab Emirates or Miami, this co-branding phenomenon has become the way to market to the 1%.

A purchaser’s perception is always to assume that if a well-known and high-end brand they are familiar with, one that eludes exclusivity and confidence, will be in control of the quality of design, materials, and construction of the real estate development that has their name attached to it, then that quality and status live on in that development.

Overall, marketing needs to be much more sophisticated. For example, lifestyle/aspirational marketing to the affluent is much more than just focusing on having a gym or a pool in a building; there is nothing special about those things anymore as almost every building, from the lowest priced to the mid-level product, offers the same amenities.

I think, especially in Canada, developers will need to really step up their game and follow suit with their U.S. counterparts to add much more on the lifestyle side of things, to allow for the word luxury to actually mean something again.

In dealing with current high interest rates, what are some of the sales innovations that you’ve found to be the most effective for these customers?

My take is that you can’t camouflage high interest rate blues that are prevalent in the marketplace with sales innovations. Technology isn’t going to be the magic wand for consumers to forget the actual costs associated with ownership.

Until rates decline, sales will be slow. The engine that drives sales is affordability, and, if it’s too expensive to borrow, it’s a problem that won’t go away anytime soon.

Are there major differences between the luxury high-rise market in Canada versus the United States? What are they?

There’s a very big difference, and it’s not just when it comes to the luxury real estate space. In the U.S., there are many brands being associated with luxury projects. From the hotel side alone, there are many Ritz-Carlton, Four Seasons, and Mandarin-branded projects. Moving away from the obvious relationship between hotels and condos, the U.S. market, in particular Miami, has taken on other brand opportunities with major international car manufacturers, such as Porsche, Bentley, and Aston Martin.

This has also recently led to restaurant brands jumping into the mix. Who would have thought that consumers would dive deep into $5 million-plus condominium purchases where a restaurant brand is leading the lifestyle and community for the development.

On the smaller scale, this type of branding has not been that prevalent in Canada. It’s been tried but had limited success with some well-known hotel brands and as such, I don’t actually see that much demand for it as the consumers in both nations aspire to different interests and I don’t see that changing anytime soon.

The Ritz-Carlton, Four Seasons, and Shangri-La over the past decade have all completed hotels with private residences in Canada. I feel it’s become common knowledge to the investor community that the brands did very little to improve the ROIs upon completion.

What made you want to participate in Elevate?

TCS recently expanded and opened an office in South Florida after primarily only doing business in Canada for over two decades. Livabl and its associated partners have been a part of my journey in the real estate news and educational forum for a long time. I believe in supporting solid, reputable companies, brands, and people that I respect.

In most industries, there needs to be more open dialogue and sharing of information, real estate is absolutely one of those sectors. Who knows if one story, experience, or key message resonates with someone who needs to hear something valuable for their career, business, or personal growth.

Coming through the pandemic, people need to be together as much as possible, so what better way than to come together and talk about some incredible topics with some incredible people and leaders.

Give us a crystal ball forecast: What do you foresee for the luxury high-rise market for 2024?

I think boundaries will be pushed like never before. And I think those boundaries will mainly be pushed in the branding (more in the U.S.) and to some level, the sustainability side of things (more in Canada). When you think of a new development or even just one building—you are, for the most part, starting fresh, you have the chance to make what you are doing not only aesthetically pleasing through brand associations but also by pleasing Mother Nature.

With brands, there’s infinite opportunity to speak to the exclusive hospitality, aesthetics, and quality that one often feels exists in the high-net-worth luxury goods and services sector.

With sustainability, the opportunity exists to ensure you are part of the solution with the environment, not part of the problem. That would be great to see continue and increase in 2024.