Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Are We Overbuilding Senior Housing?

This article in the Wall Street Journal (GO HERE) got me thinking about a number of things senior related. While housing is the most important – where, how much, equity, etc. – a number of other issues also come into mind, such as health, mobility, travel, and family. The focus on the WSJ article was on the businesses building housing for the older and more challenged seniors – most of whom are NOT baby boomers.

Senior assisted living properties coming on to the market today serve residents that are at least 75 years old and older. The first Boomers are now 69ish and even though maybe 10,000 of us do turn 65 each day is the magic number is age 66. I know there’s Medicare but it’s the SS check that really counts. And THAT is the problem: managing assets, health, properties, time, bucket lists, and family. So the issue of senior assisted living for most Boomers is irrelevant – and too soon. Now the businesses that are building these facilities need to be careful, true; but they will be ready (and if they survive) for the real press and need in about fifteen years.

The issue that I see confronting most of us in the over 65 crowd (and those soon to join us) is time, health, and equity. There are hundreds of experts out there willing to share their opinions on how to stretch your savings until your last breath—pleasant thought, eh? Nevertheless, it’s true, many of us have been successful in life, done right by ourselves and for their families and want, while still healthy, to climb to the top of the Duomo in Florence, see Antarctica, do a photo shoot in Africa or Alaska. And most want to see their grandkids get married – something that today is a far greater chance than ever. We are healthier, richer, and often, wiser.

The senior housing (assisted, resort, second home) market is incredibly diverse. By far the majority of Boomers will age in place. Their home is literally their castle. They will stay until they can’t or won’t take care of it. That will be a wrenching moment, we have all been there, or will be, with our own parents when they/we are forced to find other housing. The difficulty of planning for that day is hard. Too many variables, too much emotion, and too much history. But we get through it and more often than not, end up better in the end.

The most critical issue is the equity in our properties—how do you cash it out and use it to live. Sure Social Security is there, but hardly enough to travel on and maintain the life you’ve grown accustomed to. So we look to our savings (equities, bonds, and assets) and how to meter their returns and their decline. Should we sell the home? And when? Should we reverse mortgage (and how do you really do that?)? What are our renting options? And where? Too many options—and so much time.

Stay tuned . . . . . . .

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