Village operators remain optimistic - but wary of the regulation hammer

Retirement village owners and operators remain cautiously optimistic about the sector’s future and their ability to meet future demand.

Operators are also wary of the impact of new regulation – especially mandatory buybacks – on their ability to provide great service to residents.

The Retirement Village Sector Insight report by ANZ, released today, shows about half of all cent of surveyed operators are optimistic, compared to 24 per cent who are pessimistic.

The report directly compares industry sentiment in Australia and New Zealand, and operators in both countries cite the state of the residential housing market as a key concern, but both markets are very optimistic about an economic upturn.

While our Kiwi cousins also cite construction costs and finding appropriately experienced staff as other key issues, the Australian industry’s biggest issue is clearly the introduction – or in some places, the potential introduction – of mandatory unit buybacks.

Ben Myers, Executive Director – Retirement Living at the Property Council of Australia, said the ANZ report highlighted how the unintended impact of regulation could jeopardise a village operator’s commitment to great customer service.

“The report shows that there is a strong enthusiasm and commitment from Australian operators towards providing affordable and innovative solutions that not only encompass quality accommodation, but fantastic service provision too,” Mr Myers said.

“The impact of current and potential buyback policies across several states though is limiting village operators’ ability to provide these solutions, especially in a tough residential market.

“The sector is not opposed to buybacks, but policies need to ensure operators can continue to provide choice to incoming residents, through different financial and legal options that serve a wide range of customer needs.

“We continue to advocate to the NSW Government for significant change in how it intends to implement its buyback policy, and we eagerly await the outcome of that consultation process.”

Other key findings show:

  • Australian and New Zealand operators shared their number one priority for the next 12 months: enhancing the marketing and promotion of their villages;
  • 38 per cent of Australian operators were actively planning to develop more independent living villas and apartments in the next 12 months;
  • More than 70 per cent of respondents expected further new propositions for seniors’ independent living to be developed in the next 5-10 years;
  • More than 50 per cent also expected new rental models to emerge in the same period to cater for the increased number of seniors who don’t own their own home.

The ANZ Retirement Village Sector Insight report can be viewed here.