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‘Assisted living the next big opportunity’

Assisted living is the next big opportunity in the healthcare sector, experts agreed at Real Asset Media’s Senior Housing & Healthcare Briefing, which took place online recently.

‘The one size fits all model no longer works, because the way people age and their state of dependency has changed in the last twenty years,’ said Frédéric Dib, President, Mozaic Asset Management. ‘Instead of putting everyone into the same home, we are seeing more segmentation and specialisation and assisted living is a real growth segment’.

In France and Germany operators are taking a master lease and taking care of people who are 80-85 but less dependent than residents of a nursing home.

‘Assisted living is growing very fast in the Netherlands as well,’ said Kees Zachariasse, Managing Director Netherlands, Cofinimmo, and it is a less complicated investment in terms of the strict and sometimes unpredictable regulations of medical facilities.

‘There are 600 assisted living facilities in France and demand is really growing,’ Dib said. ‘Nursing homes will still be needed, of course, and new home care models will be developed’. 

Assisted living will take different forms, some smaller scale and some larger communities depending on need and location, but all will offer targeted services to residents.

A snap poll by Real Asset Media reveals that 70% of market experts see ‘light touch’ senior housing as the most resilient investment option in the sector, with 50% opting for traditional care homes and 48% for medical facilities.

The healthcare sector is undergoing constant change and improvement and the offer is becoming more nuanced.

In future there will be more mixed-use developments, said Ron van Bloois, Partner, HEVO: ‘We will see primary care in combination with senior living, maybe medical rooms on the ground floor and residential above’.

The biggest, most mature markets like Germany and France remain attractive locations for big investors looking for large-scale transactions, but other countries in Europe offer opportunities.

‘Italy, Portugal and Spain have well-established markets, Belgium has a very sophisticated infrastructure, the Netherlands has many independent operators, while the Nordics is less of an investable market because of the dominance of State provision,’ said Keith Harris, Executive Director, Operational Real Estate, CBRE.

Central and Eastern Europe also has promising markets, said van Bloois: ‘In CEE, especially in Poland, and in the Baltics they are very keen to professionalise their healthcare systems’.

Opportunities are to be found everywhere and diversification is the right strategy, said Dib: ‘If the question is where to invest, the answer is that Europe is the right place to be’. 

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