Retirement Living Year in Review 2021

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January

Changes to NSW’s Retirement Villages Act 1999 kick in, introducing six-month buybacks for villages in metropolitan areas and 12 months in regional areas. The pain does not start for operators until the second half of the year.

Bolton Clarke pays $10 million for the site of the Coorparoo RSL, 4km from Brisbane’s CBD, to build a vertical co-located retirement village, assisted living and aged care community. The Not For Profit continues to deliver on its plans to double in size by 2025.

Bupa opens an 82-apartment retirement village in Sutherland, 30km south of Sydney’s CBD, after four years of planning and development. A Bupa spokesperson said the village will offer two DMF options for incoming residents – non-capital gains and capital gains.

The Google Analytics for searches for villages on our portal, villages.com.au, for December through to 20 January last year peaks at 3,690 searches on one day. On Monday, 19 January, Google records 4,028 searches on villages.com.au – a 9% higher figure than last year.

Platino Properties makes a splash into the seniors’ housing sector with its first strata-titled development ‘Jardin’ in Frenchs Forest, 13km north of Sydney’s CBD, notching up more than $48 million in contractually exchanged sales since it launched in October 2020.

February

Preliminary results from the DCM National Resident Survey of 4,300 village residents reveal over 80% of 4,300 residents feel physically safer in their village and think they will have a longer quality of life by moving to their village.

Paul Browne’s retirement living and aged care provider LDK Seniors’ Living continues to go from strength to strength, announcing Sydney-based media agency Sandbox Media will head up its media strategy, planning and buying as it looks to have a national presence in every state within the next two years.

Palm Lake, the largest private owner of retirement villages, land lease communities and aged care in Australia, gains support from the banks to accelerate its latest projects. Interestingly, Palm Lake CEO, Manuel Lang, was Palm Lake’s National Bank account manager before joining the group in 2012.

A great example of fine-tuning its positioning, Lifestyle Communities labels itself as a ‘Business with Purpose’ – delivering affordable housing. By accident or design, this language (‘business for purpose’) is similar to the phrasing that Allambie Heights Village Ltd CEO Ciaran Foley uses to explain what Not For Profits need to do if they are to deliver on what is expected out of the Royal Commission’s Final Report.

Formerly ANZ Health’s Director for Corporate & Institutional in NSW & QLD, Andrew Ralph releases the land lease sector’s first home loan product, Land Lease Home Loans, targeting future retirees looking to move into a community now instead of when they retire.

Tony Lombardo, the CEO for Lendlease Asia, is appointed to lead Australia’s largest village operator as Lendlease CEO Steve McCann announces he will step down on 31 May after 12 years at the helm.

March

At the LEADERS SUMMIT, speaker after speaker identifies that the retirement village model of seniors’ accommodation – with care – will emerge as the strong preference of customers.

Centennial Living CEO Derek McMillan argues at the LEADERS SUMMIT that older villages make a lot more investment sense than new villages. The former CEO of Australian Unity’s Independent and Assisted Living portfolio for 18 years launched Centennial Living in mid-2019 to offer a new assisted living model of care.

Federal Government funding of carer respite is a major focus and recommendation of the Royal Commission. It speaks of ‘cottage-like’ accommodation in a community setting, specifically identifying the ageing partner in a couple who desperately needs a break from the tasks of caring.

The challenged plan of father and son Michael and Justin Harrison’s The Village Retirement Group to redevelop the former North Lakes Golf Course, north of Brisbane, into a retirement village is one step closer to reality after lawyers confirmed a development application could be lodged.

Grandton Applecross is the first development by new Not For Profit Grandton, established by ex-Baptistcare CFO John Frame. It is in collaboration with Perth developer Norup+Wilson and will operate under the Retirement Villages Act.

April

We have an inspection of Kevin Ryan’s next Waterbrook Bowral Lifestyle Resort and predict it will become the showcase village for the entire sector. Located in Bowral in the Southern Highlands, 120km southwest of Sydney, the first two stages of three have already sold out.

myHomecare CEO Stuart Miller and Executive Director Andrew Mann detail in our SATURDAY magazine that the country’s 900+ home care providers will shrink to 20 to 25, plus a small number of niche players, within five or so years. Australia’s largest home care provider, myHomecare, will this month pass 10,000 Home Care Packages and 18,000 clients nationally.

Mercer announces a significant new B2B market segment for the retirement living and aged care markets. The Australian arm of the global consulting firm has pioneered a Business to Business service to be taken up by large corporates, titled Care & Living with Mercer (CALM).

The NSW and ACT-based Not For Profit RSL Lifecare announces that Laurie Leigh has resigned and will leave the organisation this week as it moves to a “new phase” in its journey following a period of reform.

After flagging its intention to expand interstate last year, Halcyon starts its investor search to find a capital partner who can take a majority stake. The Queensland land lease operator had called in global advisory and management firm Rothschild to help it assess its capital options late last year.

May

The Presbyterian Church of Queensland board places the organisation in receivership, thanks to its disastrous investments in retirement living and aged care. With a 90-year history evaporating, the receivership includes its schools, congregations and other community services.

Grant Millard, the CEO of Anglicare Sydney, reveals he is to leave the Not For Profit community services and aged care provider after 10 years.

GemLife, a joint venture between parent company, Living Gems, and Singapore financial partner, Thakral Capital, takes the Sunshine Coast Council’s rejection of its proposed $130 million retirement resort and golf club upgrade to court.

New Zealand retirement village and aged care operator Ryman Healthcare buys another site in Melbourne, where it plans to build a $165 million retirement village, and sold a nearby site it owned. Since 2014, Ryman Healthcare has opened five villages in Victoria and has plans for another six.

A $785 million plan to turn the Royal Institute of Deaf and Blind Children’s site at North Rocks, in the Hills District of Sydney, into a village with 1,000 new homes including a major senior housing and aged care facility is unveiled.

June

The Australian Government introduces new competition into the retirement sector. From 1 July, a homeowner will no longer have to pay capital gains tax (CGT) where there is a formal written agreement for older family members to reside in their home with granny flats the immediate winners.

National Cabinet agrees to make COVID-19 vaccinations mandatory for residential aged care staff across the country, 16 months after the virus was first identified and four months after the first Australian was inoculated (21 February). Despite pressure from residents and the Retirement Living Council however, vaccinations are not mandated for village staff.

Retirement villages are facing new competitors, created by ex-village executives who identify changing demands by the emerging Baby Boomers. In our 5 June edition of SATURDAY, we showcase Rod Fehring, Ex-CEO of Lendlease Retirement; John Frame, Ex-Baptistcare WA and Bethanie; and Simon Militano, Ex-Head of Development, also at Lendlease.

ASX-listed companies Ingenia Communities and Stockland, together with land lease community business Serenitas run due diligence on Queensland land lease owner and operator Halcyon.

The Western Australia Government releases the final consultation paper in Stage Two of its retirement villages’ legislation reform process in Western Australia, with the deadline for feedback set for 21 July – five weeks away.

July

NSW implements reforms to its Retirement Villages Act 1999, requiring village operators to be more accountable on costs and management of assets.

Stockland buys the land lease communities business of Queensland-based Halcyon Group for $620 million, the first major purchase under new CEO Tarun Gupta.

Australian Unity buys out Greengate Partnerships for $65 million, adding the retirement village and aged care operator’s three vertical co-located retirement village and residential aged care facilities to its portfolio.

2017 Chief Information Officer of the Year John Sutherland of Ramsay Health Care is headhunted by HammondCare, becoming the healthcare, aged care and dementia care operator’s new CIO.

Hometown Australia faces a challenge to its position as leader in the land lease sector, with Ingenia having 7,500 sites to Hometown’s 8,500, and Stockland rapidly catching up with 7,800 sites thanks to its Halcyon Group purchase.

Traffic rebounds on villages.com.au from July 2020’s COVID-hit figures, with page views up 51% on the previous year and new customers up 27%.

The first Stockland land lease community in Victoria, Thrive Berwick, launches with 175 homes that are on average 15% more affordable than the catchment median.

August

The Federal Government announces mandatory COVID-19 vaccinations for all residential care workers by 17 September. Operators predict catastrophe, saying that up to 20% of the workforce could fail this requirement.

A trio of industry experts launches Senior Living Mediation (SLM), a new mediation service for retirement villages, manufactured home parks, and aged care facilities.

The NSW Government releases its proposed Housing State Environmental Planning Policy (SEPP) for public comment, with positive changes for seniors housing and care including additional floor space and the ability to bypass some council regulations; the age for seniors housing is also proposed to be raised from 55 to 60.

Paul Sadler takes the helm as interim CEO of Aged and Community Services Australia (ACSA) as Pat Sparrow steps down following five years leading the organisation.

Lendlease achieves a steady resale rate for the financial year, with sales rates approaching pre-Four Corners levels in a sign that the sector is finally recovering from the investigation.

Lifestyle Communities moves to increase its land lease community site acquisitions from two to three per year, boosting its total debt facility to $375 million to finance the expansion.

Stockland celebrates record Retirement Living sales for the financial year, with 711 existing and 211 new homes sold across its 59 retirement villages.

Ingenia sells 350 new homes over the financial year despite COVID-19, plus an extra 30 through its partnership with US firm Sun Communities.

New Zealand operator Summerset continues its push into Australia with the purchase of a fourth Victorian site in Craigieburn; it will buy a fifth in October.

A decade on from the collapse of Bill Lewski’s Prime Retirement and Aged Care Property Trust, investors are still chasing $200 million in compensation due to bureaucratic wrangling between ASIC and the Federal Government.

September

NZ-based Ryman Healthcare picks a new CEO from outside the sector: ex-Myer Australia chief Richard Umbers, who was appointed after an extensive global search.

Rental village operator Eureka Holdings defies the sector’s reputation as the “poor cousin” of retirement living, delivering 98% occupancy and 38.3% EBITDA across its 2,191-home portfolio.

Tim Thorndyke, Executive Officer Operations at UPA of NSW, is made CEO of the company to oversee its 23 retirement villages and 19 residential aged care homes.

Peter Scutt and Tony Charara’s aged and disability care platform Mable receives an injection of $100 million cash from US-based global private equity giant General Atlantic, allowing it to expand its home care services in good news for both retirement living and CAP operators and developers.

Greystar Real Estate Partners announces a 625-unit build-to-rent development in Melbourne, the largest yet approved in Australia, posing a new challenge to retirement village operators as it has essentially the same business model but with no upfront payment.

In a win for LLCs and CAPs, the Federal Government extends access to its downsizer contributions scheme by lowering the minimum age from 65 to 60. Set to take effect in July next year, the move is part of its superannuation reforms.

Retirement village and home care monitoring solutions provider Eevi.Life buys the intellectual property for the advanced Jupl Care Monitoring Gateway medical alarm device.

Aveo introduces new, simplified contracts across its 92 retirement communities, with three payment options – “Now”, “Later” and “Bond” – each with a 15% DMF.

The country’s largest retirement village operator, Lendlease, appoints a new board member: Nicholas Collishaw, joint CEO of fund management entity Lincoln Place, which focuses on affordable retirement living.

Lifestyle Communities hits a market capitalisation of $2.27 billion, propelling it to the S&P/ASX 200 index of the top 200 companies by size.

Cloud-native solutions provider Health Metrics appoints Mike Giuffrida as CEO, formerly of HR Management software provider Acendre; he succeeds Steven Strange, who takes a step back to focus on his role as CIO.

October

Anglicare achieves a staggering $4.4 million price for a penthouse apartment in its Woolooware Shores development in Taren Point, NSW, the second highest retirement village price yet achieved in Australia after the penthouse apartment at Sage by Moran in Cronulla sold for $4.75 million.

Aveo lays down the law on COVID-19 vaccines, mandating the jab for all employees, contractors, and service providers without valid medical exemptions.

After 25 years in China, Lendlease opens its first seniors living development in the country: Ardor Gardens in Qingpu, Shanghai.

Alison Harrop, former Chief Financial Officer of ASX-listed property operator Dexus, is appointed CFO of Stockland, succeeding Tiernan O’Rourke after an eight-year tenure.

Stockland sees a 50% drop in retirement living sales in both NSW and Victoria over the quarter due to the impact of COVID-19, but expects them to pick up again as lockdowns are eased.

Australian Unity seeks to use mutual capital investments (MCIs) to raise $220 million to fund its continued expansion following strong demand from investors.

Damien Webb is appointed deputy chief investment officer amid a managerial and executive reshuffle at Aware Super, which is an investor in Oak Tree Group and Lendlease.

Arvida, a listed operator in New Zealand, snaps up the retirement portfolio of Arena Living from investment giant Blackstone, adding Arena’s six villages across Auckland and Tauranga to its stable for a price tag of $345 million NZD ($330 million AUD).

Retirement village peak body Retirement Living Council formulates a discussion paper to advocate for “age-friendly communities” ahead of the 2022 election, covering retirement villages, seniors’ rental and lifestyle communities.

Property developer Simon Chappell throws his hat into the land lease community ring with his new venture Bestlife, which will build more than 550 homes across three sites in South Australia.

Lifestyle Communities rewards its workforce by distributing 368,865 stock options through its employee incentive scheme as its executives get a pay rise.

Ryman Healthcare CEO Gordon MacLeod finally officially steps down from his position after 15 years; he resigned from the company in May.

November

In an aggressive expansion plan, Ingenia commits $552 million across seven transactions to buy 20 additional communities and land sites, adding 2,955 income producing sites and 856 development sites and expanding its portfolio by 38% .

Not-For-Profit operator Bolton Clarke grows its footprint in Western Australia with the purchase of Perth-based Acacia Living Group, which operates three aged care homes, seven retirement villages, two respite centres, and home care services across WA.

The DCM Institute’s ongoing professional development program hits a new milestone, with 510 village professionals enrolled.

The SHIFT, DCM’s fortnightly marketing newsletter, returns following popular demand from marketers, salespeople, and CEOs.

Stockland appoints former UBS banker Clem Salwin as its Head of Retirement Living as CEO Tarun Gupta announces plans to decrease its retirement living exposure and boost its land lease communities business.

Eureka buys the management and letting rights to Oxford Crest’s portfolio of six villages in southeast Queensland.

Anglicare Sydney snags a high-flying executive for its CEO, replacing Grant Millard: Simon Miller, MD and Senior Partner at Boston Consulting Group.

October 2021 is the biggest month ever on villages.com.au, with village enquiry rates on the site rebounding to record levels after COVID-19.

In a sign of confidence in land lease communities and village rentals, Ingenia, Lendlease and Eureka stocks soar on the ASX, outperforming the top five real estate companies.

BaptistCare NSW/ACT slumps from a $7 million profit in 2020 to a $6 million loss in 2021, due to a $38 million increase in spending which swallows up $25 million growth in income.

Lendlease chair Michael Ullmer indicates at the company’s AGM that it may sell off a further 25% of its retirement living portfolio, though it would stay on as manager.

Aura Holdings elevates Sean Graham to the CEO position as Managing Directors Tim Russell and Mark Taylor take a step back to concentrate on growth opportunities.

Ryman Healthcare begins construction on three new villages – including two in Melbourne – as its operating profit grows by $7.5 million and sales surge 48% in six months.

Macquarie Bank injects $500 million into the build-to-rent sector; its first project in Melbourne is expected to be completed by 2025.

The ATO moves its enquiry into Lendlease’s $300 million tax advantage, which it gained by moving residents from lease to loan contracts in 2014, to the audit stage.  

Despite what it calls a “missed opportunity” for retirees, COTA welcomes new Federal Government legislation that will require super funds to more actively support members in generating maximum retirement incomes.

Bethanie Chairman Peter Gibbons and CEO Chris How announce that the Not For Profit is “evaluating alliances, joint ventures, mergers and acquisitions” to double its customers and reach annual profitable revenue of $180 million by 2023.

December

The VILLAGE SUMMIT returns in-person to great success, with approximately 640 people attending sold-out one-day sessions in Perth, Adelaide, Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane.

Aveo sells four of its co-located aged care homes to Opal HealthCare in a bid to focus on its 92 retirement villages and its home care business.

RetireAustralia grows its underlying profit by 71%, with Infratil, the NZ investment fund which owns 50% of the company, predicting it will sell 480-500 units this financial year.

The new NSW Seniors Housing Guidelines, designed to replace the guidelines in place since 2004, are released in line with the new Housing SEPP relating to seniors and disability residential development.

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