2019 Retirement Census snapshot report released

Retirement village living continues to offer affordable, safe and secure housing for older Australians, but regulators should exercise caution on making changes to village ‘buyback’ laws.

Those are two of the insights from the 2019 PwC/Property Council Retirement Census, the biggest annual survey of the retirement living sector, released at the National Retirement Living Summit 2019.

The $459,000 average cost of a two-bedroom independent living unit in a retirement village remains at just 64 per cent of the cost of the equivalent median house price in the same suburb.

Almost half (48 per cent) of new villages currently under development contain a vertical component, reflecting an increasing desire of retirees for apartment and higher density living in established areas.

Ben Myers, Executive Director – Retirement Living at the Property Council of Australia, said the Census stats on average selling periods should be noted by governments and lawmakers looking to tighten regulation.

“Independent retirement living is a critical part of the seniors housing mix; it enables senior Australians to remain independent for longer, which keeps them out of aged care, with access to support services and a network of friends within a village community,” Mr Myers said.

“The Retirement Census shows it now takes an average of 258 days to sell an existing retirement living unit, which includes periods for reinstatement or refurbishment, marketing and settlement.

“A currently proposed reform in NSW would mandate a retirement village operator buy back all units from departing residents in metropolitan areas after six months, more than two months inside the current average selling period.

“This regulation, if introduced, will put severe pressure on retirement village operators and have an adverse impact on older people seeking housing and services solutions. It will result in very few operators being willing to invest in more retirement housing for the rapidly ageing NSW population, and put further pressure on an aged care system that’s already under significant strain,” Mr Myers said.

Seventy-one per cent of all villages currently offer a guaranteed buyback to a departing resident, which has grown from 65 per cent last year.

Other statistics from the PwC/Property Council Retirement Census include:

  • The average age of entry to a village has declined slightly to 74 years of age, while the average age of current residents is 81;
  • There’s been an increase in occupancy by single residents (68 per cent), who are predominantly female (63 per cent);
  • Village occupancy around Australia remains at 89 per cent, which is well down on 2017 figures;
  • 29 per cent of all villages are now located with care on site or in close proximity (up from 27 per cent last year).

The 2019 PwC/Property Council Retirement Census represents the operators of more than 70,000 retirement living units across Australia. Contributors will receive their detailed reports in December.

To download the snapshot report and for more information on participating in the 2020 Census and associated benefits, visit retirement.propertycouncil.com.au/retirement-census