January 18, 2011

Senior Housing Presents Good Opportunties in 2011 and Beyond

For investors who like commercial real estate, but have no experience in or exposure to senior housing, now may be the time to investigate. Mel Gamzon, an industry veteran and a board member of The American Seniors Housing Association, recently shared his thoughts in an article on Commercial Property Executive. It's not news to us, but his article is a well-written, succinct summary of the market.

He shares several key factors that support why senior housing is and should continue to be a good investment.
  • Occupancy levels push 90%+
  • There is a relatively low industry loan default rate
  • Historically controlled development
  • Strong trending demographics
We would also add there are typically strong operating margins, at least on the assisted living side, which can push 40% (before rent charges). As Mr. Gamzon points out at the end of his article, there were more than $6 billion worth of non-skilled nursing facility transactions either announced or closed in the second half of 2010.

This is important for two reasons. First, there is a significant amount of focus, and consequently capital, on senior housing. Second, independent and assisted living continue to be the investment of choice, not necessarily skilled nursing.

We have seen both of these trends. There are well capitalized investors with whom we deal, such as REITs, equity funds, foreign investors and high-net worth individuals, that have shown a strong desire for senior housing and are primarily interested in non-skilled nursing. The exception to skilled nursing is when there is a continuum of care model, either as a full CCRC (rental, not buy-in) or with just assisted and skilled. That's not to say there is no interest in skilled nursing, but being significantly more reliant on Medicaid/Medicare creates a different investment model that is not as inviting as assisted or independent living.  

Because new development shut down with the rest of the real estate market, there is a deep need for new facilities to start being built. Construction financing remains very hard to obtain and the traditional GSE capital sources for senior housing (HUD, Fannie, Freddie) present so many challenges. This has created a need for alternate financing solutions and why all of our current senior housing engagements are to source construction and development capital.

According to The State of Seniors Housing 2008 report, nearly half of all independent and assisting living facilities were built before 1995. While we haven't seen the 2010 report, we can only believe that percentage has grown due to the limited development in the last couple years.

2011 is already looking like what most people thought 2010 was supposed to be - the year to rebuild. Though banks remain tight-fisted, capital is flowing from other sources. We believe that capital should and will be focused on senior housing. As everyone loves to talk about, the boomers are coming.


commercial property value said...

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Richmond Hill said...

Investing in the senior housing market sounds like a good investment advice. This is especially true if you consider the increasing number of retirees every year. Both the real estate industry and the senior housing market stands to benefit from any boom in the retirement housing market.

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