Occupancy rates at senior-living centers are on the rise as the demand for housing grows and the pace of construction activity slows down, according to a report.
The report from the National Investment Center for the Seniors Housing & Care Industry
found that the occupancy rate for the fourth quarter of 2012 was 89.1%, a 1 percentage point increase over the same quarter of the previous year.
The increase also represents the 11th consecutive quarter of growth, the report said.
Darren Lehrich, an analyst at Deutsche Bank, said in a note to clients that the senior housing sector last week outperformed the S&P 500 (2.5% vs. 1.1%).
He added that the publicly traded senior living industry has gotten a boost from positive housing data—which have shown increases in new home prices and new home sales and which generally serve as a good indicator for senior housing trends.
The housing recovery has lifted shares of major players in the senior-care space.
At the closing bell Tuesday, Brookdale Senior Living, Brentwood, Tenn., had edged up nearly 12% since Jan. 2; Emeritus Corp., Seattle, 9%; and Capital Senior Living, Dallas, 11.4%.
At National Healthcare Corp., Murfreesboro, Tenn., occupancy rates have declined from a high of 92% to a still-healthy 90%-91% because of Medicaid reductions, spokesman Gerald Coggin said.
Speaking at a newly renovated facility in Franklin, Tenn., Coggin noted that the company continues to build assisted-living centers and has seen a move toward smaller facilities that offer more services, including short-term rehabilitation and memory-care programs.
The National Investment Center report also found that annual asking rent increased 2.2%, the same increase as the previous quarter, but still outperformed core inflation. Meanwhile, inventory grew only 1.2%, representing a slowdown compared to last quarter and fourth quarter of last year, when inventory increased 1.3%. Construction has also slowed in the industry, according to the report.