Luxury Care Communities for Seniors Surge in Demand

December 10, 2018

The retirement community is getting a dramatic luxury makeover. Upscale communities are sprouting up across the country, offering personal care for residents—from independent living to nursing assistance—and amenities that rival exclusive hotels and high-end cruise ships, The New York Times reports. Developers are investing billions in these high-end senior care complexes.

Hotel attendant opening door

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The market potential could be massive: 20 percent of baby boomers—or about 15 million Americans—have saved enough to afford private continuing care. Further, about 10,000 people turn 65 years old every day. “Baby boomers are being a very demanding customer,” Stephen Maag, director of residential communities for LeadingAge, an association in the aging industry, told the Times. The industry must respond “to a consumer that has pushed back on everything they’ve touched in the last 60 years,” he adds.

One such community, called Fountaingrove Lodge in California’s Sonoma County, boasts a restaurant, wine cellar, spa, bank, fitness center, movie theater, and a large outdoor swimming pool. Entrance fees for two-bedroom bungalows, the largest units at Fountaingrove Lodge, can reach about $1 million, with monthly charges of more than $6,000.

In Dallas, construction has started on the $140 million Ventana by Buckner luxury retirement complex and is expected to be completed next year. It will include concierge-level services and fine dining. The entrance fees will range from $400,000 to $1.8 million. Monthly charges could be up to $11,000. Already, 81 percent of the units are reserved. The mission is to “completely treat everyone like a V.I.P.,” Rick Pruett, the complex’s executive director, told the Times. “[It has] all those little touches like you’d see at some of the finer operating hotel chains and resort centers.”

Related Companies of New York has partnered with Atria Senior Living to own and operate $3 billion of luxury housing for seniors in cities such as New York, San Francisco, Boston, Los Angeles, Miami, and Washington, D.C. The plan for the company’s senior complexes is to offer rentals, instead of homes for sale, and not charge entrance fees.

But some officials are growing concerned that there is no real estate agent advocating for the buyer as they move into such senior residences. The industry is not federally regulated, and contracts can be complex. Further, some of the entrance fees may go back to the residents’ estates upon death or refunded if they leave. But getting funds returned could be a lengthy wait and may even require legal action, experts say.

Boomers Create a Surge in Luxury Care Communities,” The New York Times (Dec. 4, 2018)