Senior housing continues slow recovery

The seniors housing occupancy rate continued its slow recovery in the fourth quarter of 2011, while construction activity continued to decline, according to NIC MAP, the data analysis service of the National Investment Center for the Seniors Housing & Care Industry (NIC).

Overall, the average occupancy rate for seniors housing properties in 4Q11 was 88.2 percent, an increase of 0.1 percentage points from the prior quarter and a 0.7 percentage point increase from a year ago. The seniors housing average occupancy rate has risen in seven consecutive quarters and is 1.1 percentage points above its cyclical low of 87.1 percent in 1Q10.

The occupancy rate for independent living properties in 4Q11 averaged 88 percent, and the occupancy rate for assisted living properties averaged 88.6 percent. Only independent living showed improvement from the prior quarter, increasing 0.2 percentage points from 3Q11.

The average occupancy rates for independent living and assisted living are both 1.2 percentage points above their respective cyclical lows.

“With occupancy continuing to rise, it is clear the recovery is underway. However, independent living has been driving much of the occupancy gains in recent quarters,” said Michael Hargrave, Vice President, NIC MAP, in a statement.

In 4Q11, the seniors housing annual inventory growth rate was 1.2 percent, which is up from 1 percent in 3Q11, but down from 1.5 percent in 4Q10. The construction as a share of existing inventory for seniors housing was 1.5 percent, which is down from 1.6 percent in the previous quarter.

The nursing care occupancy rate was 88.2 percent in 4Q11, a decline of 0.1 percentage points from 3Q11. Nursing care occupancy has been marginally declining for several years, according to NIC MAP.

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