Demand for Retirement Communities on the Rise

Considering the vulnerability of elderly living alone, the demand for retirement communities or assisted living facilities is on the rise. “We have seen a tremendous increase in the number of enquires along with 4x increase in organic traffic to our website,” said Mohit Nirula, CEO, Columbia Pacific Communities.

In an exclusive interview with RoofandFloor, he spoke about how the company is addressing Covid-19 challenges, changing buyers’ preferences, and much more.

Here are the excerpts.

What are buyers looking for in a retirement community? Are there needs evolving with time?
The demand for wellness and wellbeing programmes aimed at positive ageing and a healthcare support structure is the top priority.

Further, today’s well-travelled buyers are also looking for a more socially active and enabling service design that allows them to leave the day-to-day chores to the service provider while allowing them the freedom to pursue their interests and passions.

What changes did you make in the retirement communities during the pandemic?
More than changes, there was a reinforcement of current practices.

This involved greater education and dissemination of credible information on the pandemic and the best ways to cope with it. The advice and expertise of our healthcare partners helped in countering the misinformation overload that accompanied the pandemic.

We were also able to ring-fence the communities and provide services through team members residing with the community. This ensured that residents were kept protected from the external environment.

There was also the introduction of immunity-boosting beverages and augmentation of such ingredients in the daily menus. The most important thing was the increased use of digital platforms to keep residents engaged so that physical distancing did not result in social distancing and loneliness.

Is the demand for retirement homes and assisted living facilities in India increasing? If yes, what are the reasons?
Yes, the demand for assisted living facilities in India is on the rise. We have seen a tremendous increase in the number of enquires along with 4x increase in organic traffic to our website.

Demand for Retirement Communities on the Rise
Considering that the elderly are among the worst hit due to the ongoing pandemic, the demand for retirement communities will only increase in the times to come.

Who are the potential buyers?
There are two distinct segments—first, senior citizens who desire to reduce their dependence on external service providers. Secondly, there is a high degree of interest from future residents in the age group of 50 – 60.

Which price segment has the highest demand?
There is a demand for communities at different price points. Generally, the prices vary from Rs 20-50 Lakh for a 1BHK (excluding the more expensive metropolitan cities such as Mumbai and Delhi) depending on the size of the home and the location.

Similarly, monthly maintenance charges may vary from Rs 8,000-40,000 depending on the range and quality of services provided within the community.

What should the government do to promote senior living as an attractive asset class for investment?
I do not believe that one should look at senior living communities as an asset class or a financial investment. Having said that, the government should:

Waive off GST on services provided in senior living communities
Relax the FSI and parking norms for senior living communities
Consider financial initiatives that make the reverse mortgage more attractive
Create guidelines to govern the physical structure and services at communities designed for seniors
Your advice for selecting a senior living home in the post-Covid world.
Select the community as a whole and not just the home. Your neighbours, after all, are going to be your neighbours forever. Also, the selection should be based on the needs you wish to address today or expect to have in the future.