NIC: Industry Must Prepare for Continued Growing Interest in Seniors Housing

SAN DIEGO — As more and more new investors, capital providers and developers start to look at seniors housing as a growth opportunity, it’s up to those already in the sector to forge strong partnerships and increase transparency of data. These are the keys to seniors housing becoming a standard commercial real estate sector rather than a niche.

Those were the messages of executives and partners from the National Investment Center for Seniors Housing & Care (NIC), a nonprofit data firm based in Maryland that serves the seniors housing sector. The thoughts were shared at a press briefing during the association’s 2019 Spring Conference, held at the Hilton San Diego Bayfront in late February.

Brian Jurutka, the association’s CEO, noted that of the approximately 1,700 attendees at the event, 25 percent were first-timers.

“That’s an indication that the seniors housing ecosystem continues to grow,” noted Jurutka.

NIC is in the midst of trying to introduce a wider variety of data to the industry, as well as more accurate and digestible data, to make metrics about seniors housing more available, accurate and transparent. The firm’s continuing “actual rents” data point (for years only asking rents have been tracked) has continued to garner new partnerships in the technology sector to help feed data to NIC. Operators can choose to opt in to this data sharing in order to give the industry as a whole a better, more accurate view.

“This particular initiative is good for our operators and the industry as a whole,” said Ed Scott, chief revenue officer of MatrixCare, a seniors housing software company that recently began providing actual rent data to NIC. “It provides timely, transparent and accurate data.”

All of this is part of NIC’s attempts to move the industry in the direction of other forms of commercial real estate, according to Chuck Harry, NIC’s chief of research.

“We’re taking new cuts of our existing data,” said Harry. “For example, other property types classify Class A, B and C. We’ve tiered seniors housing properties by the top quartile, middle 50 percent and bottom quartile to do the same. This is a more quantitative look, moving us closer to how other property types benchmark performance.”

When questioned on how many operators would volunteer their data, Jurutka suggested that many company’s “get it” and agree to share information in order to improve the industry as a whole. In addition, those that report data to NIC get reports that benchmark that operator’s communities against industry averages.

Bob Kramer, the association’s founder and current strategic advisor, said it was essential that operators see the need for sharing data in order to bring the seniors housing sector out of its current situation as a niche space.

“If you want to be a core-plus property type, you have to give the transparency they’re used to seeing in other property types,” said Kramer.

— Jeff Shaw