Boom Town or Boomers Town? Retirement Living facing headwinds despite ageing population growth

WA’s sluggish house values are having a worse impact on the retirement living sector than slower population growth, Urbis Director David Cresp told a Property Council WA Retirement Living Outlook Sundowner.

Mr Cresp praised the State Government’s decision to offer a 75 per cent stamp duty rebate on off-the-plan apartment sales and said changes to WA’s regional migration status would act as an incentive for foreign students to come to Perth.

“The glass is half full, (it is) looking like we have got through the worst and are heading for brighter times,” Mr Cresp said.

However, he said, there was no escaping the toll the 13-year “long hard ride” of the housing market had had on the retirement sector because falling home values had prompted aspiring  retirement living residents to put plans to sell and move into retirement living on hold.

“What I want to be able to do is downsize, put some money in the bank, I want a holiday and I want to move to a retirement village – and I want my house to pay for all of that,” Mr Cresp said. “If my house isn’t paying for that, I’m happy to stay put. That’s a real problem.”

Mr Cresp said the industry faced a number of potential headwinds.

A recent ANZ New Zealand, Retirement Villages Associate of New Zealand and Property Council of Australia Retirement Village Sector Insight paper identified mandatory buybacks, the state of the housing market and compliance as the biggest issues facing the Australian sector.

It found Australia’s retirement village operators appeared to be more open to change, trying new things, including exploring retiree rental options. However, Australian operators reported they were more focused on working through legislative and compliance changes at a time they would prefer to be growing to meet “demographic change”.

Mr Cresp, who said Urbis expected house values to potentially start to rise again in the second half of next year, shared the stage with Jackson McDonald Special Counsel Bianca McGoldrick, GHD Woodhead Retirement Living and Aged Care leader Craig Muir, West Australian Retirement Villages Residents’ Association’s Ron Chamberlain and moderators Masonic Care Chief Executive Marie-Louise MacDonald and Retirement Living Council Executive Director Ben Myers.