Realty: Covid renews unexpected interest for senior living segment

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The Covid-19 pandemic and subsequent lockdown has provided an unexpected boost for realty companies in the senior living segment. This has emerged a growth segment in an otherwise depressed residential segment. India will be home to 17.3 crore senior citizens by 2026 and realty developers are looking at senior living with renewed interest.

Shashank Paranjape, MD, Paranjape Schemes, the oldest player in this segment with 2,000 homes in nine completed projects across Pune, Vadodara and Bengaluru under the Athashri brand, said they have seen a 50% rise in demand and enquiries have increased. As of now senior citizens are still under lockdown and advised to stay at home but he expects a spike in bookings from September 2020 onwards. Even those who had booked and cancelled are re-booking and those who were indecisive are now sure about making this move, said Paranjape.

Paranjape is building the largest senior citizen home along with a geriatric hospital in the country at Pune that will be home to 1,200 families with investment of around Rs 1,000 crore.

The pandemic has made our senior citizens realise the true value of living here as everything was taken care of during the pandemic from grocery to bank ATMs to medical help made available at their doorstep and even a dedicated Covid Care Centre if anyone needed quarantine or isolation, said Paranjape. He has seen an unusual flurry of mails from NRI children relieved that their parents were living with us and being taken care during the pandemic.

There has been a fourfold increase in lead generation and three times jump in enquiries in the last four to five months, said Mohit Nirula, CEO, Columbia Pacific Communities, which has nine projects in India with 1,600 residential units. Every month since June, July and August we have done double of the pre-Covid level business, said Nirula. They were seeing faster conversion than before and sales has doubled, added Nirula. Part of the Seattle-based Columbia Pacific Management, the company that has been building, managing and operating senior living communities in the US, China, Canada and India, is expanding at a rapid pace.

Columbia Pacific has just got into a 50:50 JV with Pune-based real estate developer, Nyati Group, for their foray into the senior living asset class.

Columbia Pacific said they will be pursuing similar JV models with other developers in the country. Senior living is an underexplored subvertical but in the last four to five months, people have realised the importance on external agency for day to day existence and how it is fraught with risks .

Nyati has tied up with Columbia Pacific Communities for their first project in Pune at Nyati County, a gated community project. This 3.64-lakh-sq ft dedicated senior living has 200 units in one and two BHK formats from 736 to 1,331 sq ft and is priced between `50 lakh and `80 lakh and expected to be at the start of the next fiscal year, said Pranav Nyati, director, Nyati Group. The first project in Pune will see investments of around `150 crore and is awaiting approvals, Nyati said. He plans to make similar projects across Maharashtra.

According to Anarock Property Consultants, the top 12 senior living players currently have just 55 ongoing or completed projects across the country.

Anuj Puri, chairman, Anarock Property, said due to the rise of nuclear families, increased life expectancy and people living across geographies, ‘independent seniors’ are becoming a new demography. “Such seniors do not settle for traditional old-age homes as they prefer and can afford autonomy and the company of age peers in well-equipped retirement communities. A recurring theme of this pandemic has been seniors living alone, struggling for basics, managing without house help and anxious about existing and potential medical issues. The need for homes in a setting where these factors are taken care of is now undeniable,” said Puri.

Covid-19 may reshape the future of the senior living segment in India, with demand for such homes set to zoom amid the present uncertainties, added Puri.

The 55 projects are split between the top developers in this segment include Brigade Enterprises, Paranjape Schemes, Tata Housing, Ashiana Housing, Max India’s Antara Senior Living, Covai Care, Columbia Pacific Communities, Bahri Estates, Oasis Senior Living, Aamoksh Oneighty, Ananya Shelters and Primus. Senior living facilities are designed with senior-friendly amenities and medical support along with services for food, housekeeping and 24-hour assistance which makes them an attractive retirement home.

To safeguard the rights of seniors, according to Anarock, the ministry of social justice and empowerment has defined models for operating and monitoring retirement homes. “With a regulatory body for managing and developing such assets already in place, increased developer activity, the institutionalisation of caregivers and specialised service providers are likely to be the next steps and institutional capital will follow, said the Anarock report.

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Author Name : Geeta Nair

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