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Is Stand-Alone Memory Care a Good Investment? Part 2

posted Jan 2, 2019, 9:48 AM by Scott McCorvie

Is Stand-Alone Memory Care a Good Investment? Part 2

By Scott McCorvie, President, Senior Living Growth Advisors

In the first segment of this two-part series, I discussed a brief history of the memory care product, as well as a summary of the programming and design benefits compared to traditional assisted living or a secured memory car wing. I also summarized a proforma analysis demonstrating how the yield-to-cost and total annualized return (IRR) is artificially high compared to other senior living product types. This inflated yield, along with decreased development timing and costs, spurred stand-along memory care development across the United States. However, even with the higher potential yields, is stand-alone memory care a good investment? In this article, I’ll dig deeper into the investment risks and mitigating factors to consider before investing in stand-alone memory care.  

One of the biggest misconceptions’ investors have regarding stand-alone memory care, is that it leases-up and maintains a stabilized occupancy like other senior living products. This is further from the truth. Memory care is the most immediate and need-based product in senior living, and the decision to move a loved one into memory care is made decisively and quickly. So, it’s difficult to maintain pre-opening and/or operating waiting lists like other senior living communities. Additionally, the memory care average length-of-stay is shorter than other senior living options (especially during flu season), which means it’s crucial to maintain a steady supply of new residents. However, stand-alone memory care is at a disadvantage here, as it does not have a supply of in-house residents, like communities offering a full continuum-of-care. The number of units/beds is also lower in stand-alone memory care, which elevates the risk of not covering debt service and/or fixed charges when there are a large number of discharges in a given month (and no waiting list). Stand-alone memory care is the only product type I’ve seen that can have dramatic downward shifts in occupancy in a single month.

So, these are all real risks to consider before investing in stand-alone memory care, but are there any ways investors can mitigate these risks? The simple answer is yes – with a strong, experienced operator. A strong stand-alone memory care operator will have ample experience marketing the niche design and specialized programming as key advantages to traditional senior living communities. Also, a good stand-alone memory care operator’s marketing program should focus on several key referral sources (Alzheimer’s Association, home healthcare agencies, local doctor groups, hospitals, etc.), and not need to rely on broader marketing strategies and in-house resident sources. A strong operator should also always have a daily pulse on occupancy and financials and be able to adjust the staffing and expenses immediately, if needed. The investor/operator should also be willing to continually invest in the community, as flooring and furniture wear-and-tear is high, and new wandering management and cognitive improvement technology is always being created and introduced to maintain a competitive advantage in the market.  

Okay, so I presented many risks, as well as some mitigating factors, but is stand-alone memory care a good investment? Personally, I would be very cautious on investing in any new stand-alone memory care development, or stand-alone memory care with a short operating history. I would also spend a lot of time understanding and underwriting the operator’s experience, senior and local management team, risk management procedures, focused marketing strategies, regional impact, and long-term vision. Of course, market, location, design, competition and reputation are always huge factors to consider before any senior living investment decision. I would also underwrite a very conservative stabilized occupancy, lower market rates (for likely concessions), and large annual capital expenditures. I wouldn’t base my pricing on a year one NOI to market cap rate methodology, but would factor in a variable discounted cash flow analysis (considering operating swings and annual capital expenditures) along with a pricing comparison to replacement cost (for new competition). Overall, stand-alone memory care product is here to stay, but utilizing conservative underwriting and pricing models will help make sure your senior living investment is a success.

If you have any questions on this article, or would like help navigating the senior living and memory care market, feel free to e-mail me at scott@srgrowth.com.

Is Stand-Alone Memory Care a Good Investment? Part 1

posted Jan 2, 2019, 9:46 AM by Scott McCorvie

Is Stand-Alone Memory Care a Good Investment? Part 1

By Scott McCorvie, President, Senior Living Growth Advisors

Memory Care is the newest product type in senior living, and due to its specialized care and higher potential yield, it quickly grabbed the attention of many senior living investors. And, with the inflated rent per square foot, stand-alone memory care development quickly began booming across the United States. However, upon talking to various developers, investors, and lenders, I quickly realized there was a lot of misconception about the risks and operational volatility associated to stand-alone memory care. So, in this two-part series, I’ll summarize the history of memory care, discuss some of the benefits and amenities, and analyze some of the potential risks and volatility concerns inherent in this type of product.

The memory care product was born in the mid-to-late 1990s, as the second generation of assisted living product was quickly booming across the United States. Owners, operators, and families quickly realized that the resident’s care was beyond the scope of traditional assisted living (primarily due a residents unsafe wandering), but did not want to move their family member into a secured wing of an older skilled nursing facility. Therefore, the memory care product was born. Assisted living communities began ‘securing’ one of their wings as a ‘dementia unit’ and added specialized nursing staff to help with the increased care. These units had a separate pricing model, as they required a different level of care.

Securing against resident wandering was a necessary first step, but communities quickly realized that other amenities and programming could be added to enhance the overall quality of life and attract new residents. To help keep the unit pricing down, the majority of the offered memory care units were semi-private or companion suites and were located within a secured first floor wing of an assisted living community. Other memory care amenities were quickly added including a central lounge, activity center, serving kitchen, specialized dining room, separate nurses’ station, and enclosed courtyard / walking path. Specialized staffing and programming was focused on cognition improvement, and ‘memory stations’ (vintage photographs, clothing, buttons, tools, etc.) were added around the secured unit to help maintain and improve memory function.

With the increased knowledge of the new memory care product, families quickly began moving residents into these secured units, and memory care occupancy increased across the United States. With the greater number of semi-private units, developers quickly realized a full memory care unit (two semi-private beds combined), could receive $9,000 - $12,000 in rent versus the traditional assisted living of $3,000 - $6,000. Additionally, the net income per constructed square foot was much higher due to the minimal amount of common area. Although nursing care and operating expenses are higher in the memory care units, the potential yield on construction cost was extremely attractive to many developers. Thus, the creation of the stand-alone memory care community was born. The stand-alone memory care community began massive development across the United States in the mid-2000’s. The design could be standardized and generally consisted of 40-60 beds (primarily semi-private units) around a central courtyard. The same design could be replicated in many markets — saving the developer in timely and expensive architecture and design costs.  

Although the potential yield is much higher than other senior living product types, is stand-alone memory care a good investment? What are some of the benefits, along with some of the risks in underwriting and investing in stand-alone memory care? Do the current cap rates reflect this risk? Is there anything that an owner/operator can do to help mitigate the risks? In my next segment, I’ll answer these questions, along with some others, as I dive deeper in things to consider before investing in stand-alone memory care

If you have any questions on this article, or would like help navigating the senior living and memory care market, feel free to e-mail me at scott@srgrowth.com.

Senior Living Portfolio Premium

posted Jan 2, 2019, 9:45 AM by Scott McCorvie

Senior Living Portfolio Premium

By Scott McCorvie, President, Senior Living Growth Advisors

During discussions with varying senior living owner/operators and smaller investment groups about their exit strategy, I hear the phrase, “portfolio premium” thrown around a bunch. But, I question if these groups really understand the methodology behind the portfolio premium, and how to truly maximize this premium within the senior living industry. So, in this article, I’ll analyze the methodology behind the premium, and discuss ways to maximize the premium.

The portfolio premium is really based on the economic theory of economies-of-scale, along with the acquisition and investment appetite of the larger, listed healthcare REITs. Each acquisition takes 60-120 days of negotiation, legal documentation, capital sourcing, and due diligence to close. The amount of man hours, energy, and dollars spent on a single-asset acquisition varies very little to a larger 10-asset portfolio acquisition. Therefore, the portfolio premium partially reflects all the time and energy used in developing and/or acquiring single assets to ultimately sell in a single transaction to a larger investment group.

Additionally, the acquisition appetite of the larger healthcare and investment groups can alter the premium. Investment groups grow through new acquisitions and development investments. However, when an investment group has $20-30 Billion in assets under management, they need to make larger portfolio acquisitions (hundreds of millions) to really move the needle. And, since the larger healthcare REITs have the lowest cost-of-capital of healthcare real estate investors (can create new equity and bond offerings), they can afford to pay the highest prices and obtain the same return hurdles as investment groups with a higher cost-of-capital.

Now, both proceeding theories are not unique to senior living, as they are utilized in all institutional commercial real estate investment strategy. However, senior living does have some unique attributes that can really impact the portfolio premium. Besides physical attributes like size, market, design, and quality of the assets, additional portfolio premium variables are geographic clusters, operator/management selection, and operating/legal structure. Healthcare REITs and investment groups typically already have relationships with operators/managers, and like the ability to change the management (if desired) post acquisition to groups already in their portfolio. And, since it’s not as efficient for senior living managers to operate a single-asset outlier to their geographic concentration, it’s most appealing to have clusters of 3-5+ properties in any given geographic zone. Additionally, since it’s always disruptive and risky to change management, having institutional-quality management/operators in-place, is always desired. Last, the portfolio premium can be impacted by the cross-collateralization of the lease and/or management structure.   

This is just small sampling of ways to create and maximize value in a senior living portfolio. If you have any questions, or need assistance, feel free to contact me at scott@srgrowth.com.

Is Senior Living Even Real Estate?

posted Jan 2, 2019, 9:44 AM by Scott McCorvie

Is Senior Living Even Real Estate?

By Scott McCorvie, President, Senior Living Growth Advisors

I laugh sometimes when I talk with different investment groups trying to enter the industry. They rattle off all types of ad-hoc numbers and calculations from complex spreadsheets, and quote different terms and sophisticated verbiage from varying market studies. Now, I’m not saying that accurate investment proforma models and thoughtful market studies are not valuable tools, but I wouldn’t go “all-in” just because the investment model returns look good, or the calculated supply / demand analysis shows unmet beds. 

In fact, I sometimes question if senior living is even real estate? Sure, location is key, and building design, construction quality, and offered amenities are all very helpful, but to have a successful senior living community, you need to think far beyond typical commercial real estate metrics. I know some developers new to the industry think, we’ll just add any manager you want at 5%, and we'll lease it up in 12 months. Voila! Sure, this manager mentality may work for office, industrial, retail, multifamily, and even hospitality, but senior living is in a whole different class. 

Over the past 15 years, I’ve worked on successful senior living projects, and not-so-successful senior living investment projects. The single most important variable came down to one thing – the operator. The operator is so crucial for the overall success of any senior living investment. I can't stress this enough. I’ve changed operators on senior living investments without ever touching the real estate, and experienced almost immediate and dramatic financial results. This would not be the case for any of the other commercial real estate classes.

One very successful regional operator once told me during a property tour, “Scott, I wouldn’t let the real estate get in the way of a successful community.” And, this is so true! It’s way more than just ‘sticks and bricks,’ but it’s really about the resident care, programming, and overall reputation that drives a community's success. Strong word-of-mouth referrals are still the best and largest marketing source, and this does not cost one cent in the marketing budget. Overall, investment groups need to think beyond the real estate, and focus on successful operator partnerships that continually improve quality of care, create engaging programming, and cater to the overall resident satisfaction.

If you have questions or comments, feel free to e-mail me at scott@srgrowth.com.

Greatest Competition in Senior Living

posted Jan 2, 2019, 9:42 AM by Scott McCorvie

The Greatest Competition in Senior Living 

By Scott McCorvie, President, Senior Living Growth Advisors

When most people think of the greatest competition for a seniors housing community, they think of the impressive new development being constructed down the street or a community nearby undergoing a large renovation project. However, this is inaccurate. The greatest competition for any seniors housing community is a residents’ own home. Seniors housing is still one of the only products where most of the end-users still don’t want to use the product, but are asked and suggested to use it by family and friends.

So, how do we change the negative image within the industry? How do we make seniors housing a preferred destination? The first part is changing the terminology. I cringe when I hear someone say A-L-F, or ALF. Facility, is the ugly F-word within the industry. When I think of a ‘facility,’ I think of long hallways with white paint, fluorescent lighting, and hospital beds. If you’ve toured a seniors housing community built within the past two to three decades, you know this is an inaccurate image. Replacing the word ‘facility’ with ‘community’ or ‘residence,’ is the first part in enhancing the image and overall brand of seniors housing. 

Next, is implementing thoughtful programming that creates a new and upgraded lifestyle for the resident. Unfortunately, studies show that residents still spend the majority of their time within their unit. This is no different than the residents’ own home, except for a much smaller living space. To make seniors housing a preferred destination, we must provide something their home cannot provide. This includes new connections and enhanced socialization and activities. New lifestyle programming now includes cooking classes, fitness classes, yoga, wine tasting, dancing lessons, and educational courses. We need to think beyond bingo and bridge.  

Overall, the industry has made great strides over the past few decades in enhancing the seniors housing image. However, there is still so much more we can do. With improved technology, a potential senior resident can now safely live in their home longer than ever before. To make seniors housing a preferred destination, we must first change the brand terminology, and then create a lifestyle upgrade that will be shared with family and friends. Positive word-of-mouth advertising is still the most powerful marketing tool a seniors housing community can implement. If you have questions or comments, feel free to e-mail me at scott@srgrowth.com.

Senior Living JV Investing

posted Jan 2, 2019, 9:39 AM by Scott McCorvie

Senior Living JV Investing

By Scott McCorvie, President, Senior Living Growth Advisors

I get a lot of questions regarding different structures for seniors housing real estate investment. Most of you are probably aware of the traditional sale-leaseback, or sale-manageback (RIDEA) in seniors housing. But, with private equity groups dominating the transaction markets lately, there's a new focus on JV transactions. In this article, I’ll analyze the basic structure of the JV, waterfall cash flow distributions, and the pros and cons of the structure for seniors housing.

Just as the name states, a joint venture is a shared partnership between two or more entities within a single investment. The JV includes at least one Limited Partner (“LP”) and at least one General Partner (“GP”). The LP owns the majority position of the equity, and is typically an institutional investment group (REIT, Private Equity, Family Office, etc.). The GP will own a minority position in the equity, and is typically the seniors housing developer/operator. Together, the GP and LP will own 100% of the equity, with typical splits being 80/20, 90/10, or 95/5. This structure is frequently used for new development, but can also be used for acquisitions – especially when there’s material upside from improved operations, unit conversions, renovation, market reposition, etc.

So, why mess with the complexity of a JV structure for seniors housing? I’ll look at this from both the LP and GP perspective. For the LP, it creates less financial risk as they typically take a preferred position to the cash flow distribution (discussed later) from both operations and future sale. It’s also beneficial to the LP as it creates favorable alignment for the operator to be fully invested in the overall operations and bottom line (compared to a management fee arrangement). For the GP, it creates higher compensation for improved operations and value creation. It also gives the GP more control over major decisions like renovations, conversions, capital expenditures, management decisions, financing, and dispositions.  

However, there are some things to consider before jumping into a JV arrangement. First, on both sides, the legal fees are much larger and can be much more time-consuming negotiating the documents. Also, the GP will need to provide 5-20% of the equity, which will be illiquid for the life of the investment. The GP, as partial owner, is also typically bound by the covenants and guarantees of the financing. There are also things to consider on the LP side. The LP, although majority owner, does not have absolute control over the investment and any future capital decisions (refinancing, disposition, etc.). Also, the LP typically cannot quickly change the operator if the performance goes south (assuming the GP is the operator).

And, the biggest question is how does the LP and GP split the cash flows from operations and value creation? This is the biggest risk mitigate for the LP and incentive for the GP. The JV documents will list out how the cash flow is distributed for both groups, and is typically structured as a “waterfall” with multiple tiers based on pre-determined financial metrics (“hurdles”). Each JV is unique, but the LP typically has a preferred position “pref”, and will receive all cash flow, or pari-passu (pro rata share) of cash flow until a predetermined investment hurdle is achieved (i.e., 8% equity return, 12% leveraged IRR, etc.). After the first hurdle is achieved, the GP will start receiving an unequal (larger) portion of the cash flow compared to their equity investment. This unequal distribution is referred to as their “promote” and will continue to increase as the financial performance increases. The waterfall usually contains multiple hurdles, with the GP receiving larger portions of the cash flow upon meeting each hurdle.  

Overall, JV structuring is present in all commercial real estate investing, but is predominant in seniors housing. This is largely due to the strong operational nature of the industry, and how critical it is to have the right operator (and fully aligned operator) to achieve maximum financial success. If you have any questions, or need help structuring a JV seniors housing investment, feel free to contact me at scott@srgrowth.com. 

Senior Living Design Trends

posted Jan 2, 2019, 9:37 AM by Scott McCorvie

Seniors Housing Design Trends

By Scott McCorvie, President, Senior Living Growth Advisors

Throughout my career, I’ve been fortunate to have toured hundreds of seniors housing communities in markets across the United States. Like many others, I can usually estimate the year the property was built when I first drive around the community. Seniors housing is a young industry, but there are some definite design traits and characteristics that have delineated each period and progressed through the years. In this article, I’ll examine the history of seniors housing design, as well as address some of the current and future design trends within the industry.

Seniors housing was really born in the 1980’s, but didn’t start to become a distinct and acknowledged industry class until the 1990’s. Still today, when I mention seniors housing, many people think of traditional skilled nursing facilities, or ‘nursing homes,’ with long corridors and semi-private units on either side. And, that’s exactly what you’ll find in the earliest seniors housing design. Communities built in the 1970’s to late 1980’s typically resemble skilled nursing facilities with long hallways, primarily semi-private or studio units, and limited common area and community space. As the assisted living product become more acknowledged, new development started to surge reaching a pinnacle in the late 1990’s. Most of these communities have a fairly similar design (think of traditional Brookdale or Holiday), but began to add more amenities like libraries and dedicated activity rooms, along with more options in unit types (although, still more skewed towards studio units). The prominent technology included pull-cords in the resident bedrooms and bathrooms.

The 2000’s refined the industry as it began to expand and become more sophisticated. Dedicated and secured memory care became a new product type, and additional amenities like movie theaters, fitness centers, larger lobbies and resident lounges began to emerge. The resident units also became larger with a greater selection of one-bedroom and two-bedroom unit types (with less studio units). The design still typically consisted of one-to-three story buildings with longer hallways on either side of a central dining room, but more resident lounges and courtyards emerged to add additional interactive space for the residents. New technology like building wi-fi and resident pendant call systems became standard.

So, what are the current trends in seniors housing? The main concept in today’s seniors housing design is to get the resident’s out of the units and engaged within the community. Instead of having the standard amenity rooms scattered throughout the community (library, computer room, game room, etc.) that are rarely used other than marketing tours, newer design trends incorporate a large, central community space that can be converted throughout the day (yoga, dance classes, cooking classes, movies, etc.). This creates a central, interactive hub within the community and helps provide interaction for the residents. Longer hallways are being replaced with connected ‘square’ designs to foster socialization and avoid isolation. Libraries are being replaced with ‘digital libraries’ that can be accessed through provided smart devices. Bistro’s and casual cafes are being added to the community to provide more dining options, as well as more social interaction meeting space for residents and families.  

And, the future is limitless and exciting for the industry. The focus will be on ‘lifestyle,’ so that residents want to move into a community for an upgraded quality of life. Technology will continue to be a main driver, which will include smart locks, digital records, new call systems, and interactive smart devices – all with the ability to be remotely accessed by the families. Virtual Reality is being introduced in memory care to help maintain and improve cognitive function. Also, modular design may help reduce the construction costs to cater towards a more affordable product. Overall, the industry has come a long way in a short time, and with constant innovation and improvement, the industry will continue to make a positive impact on the quality of life of residents and families well into the future.  

What is the RIDEA structure?

posted Aug 26, 2014, 9:25 AM by Scott McCorvie   [ updated May 6, 2017, 7:41 AM ]

By Scott McCorvie, Senior Living Growth Advisors - www.srgrowth.com.
There’s been a lot of news lately about the RIDEA structure, but there seems to be some confusion on the make-up, utilization, and perceived benefits and risks of the structure. Within this article, I’ll examine the history of the RIDEA act, describe how it is typically utilized by REITs, and list some of the benefits and risks inherent within the design.

RIDEA (typically pronounced Rye-Dee-Uh, or Rye-Day-Uh) is an acronym that stands for the REIT Investment Diversification and Empowerment Act. This legislation was enacted in a REIT reform act of 2007 and allowed REITs to change the way they accounted for healthcare real estate income. Prior to this act, healthcare real estate investments had to be structured as leases (typically triple-net leases) with annual rent payments and escalations. The RIDEA act allowed REITs to participate in the actual net operating income, as long as there was an involved third party manager. The legal structuring includes creating Taxable REIT Subsidiaries (TRS), with an in-place lease between the landlord and tenant entities (both owned by the REIT).

How did this change the landscape of the industry? Instead of just underwriting a steady rent payment and annual escalation, REITs could analyze and underwrite larger shifts in operations and income. This is critical for value-add projects where there is material upside from enhanced operations and occupancy, and opened the door for REITs to expand their investment horizon (including joint venture structures).  Additionally, the underwriting mentality shifted from tenant credit profile and lease coverage analysis (net operating income / rent payment), to sophisticated operating underwriting proforma models, in-depth market analysis, and operator knowledge and industry experience.

So, what are some of the benefits of this structure? The main benefit is the ability for the REIT to invest in non-stable assets, and the opportunity capture increased annual income growth from enhanced operations. Instead of the standard 2-3% rent escalations in a triple-net lease structure, the REITs can benefit from the market rent increases (or rent adjustments), occupancy increases, and overall operational improvement and efficiencies. This has led to normalized income growth well above the 2-3% range. For example, during the second quarter of 2014, Ventas (VTR) reported their U.S. RIDEA portfolio (called their seniors housing operating portfolio) experienced income growth of 6.6% on a year-over-year, same-store basis. This is almost double the range of any typical escalation within a NNN lease investment. Another benefit is a hedge against inflation, as increased inflation will lead to larger increases in rental rates, operating expenses, and overall NOI. The Tenant/Manager can also benefit, as they do not need to assume the long-term liability, but still maintain favorable management fees from operations, as well as potential incentive management fees linked to superior performance.

But, there are also some additional risks. Along with the ability to greatly increase the operations, there is also a risk of decreased operations and income (no credit guaranteed rent). However, this can be partially mitigated by creating credit enhancements within the Management Agreement (to be discussed in a later article). These credit enhancements can also create favorable alignment between the REIT and Manager, as both are focused on maximizing operational efficiency and operating income.  Additionally, since the REIT is participating in the operations, there is additional risk of potential legal liability. There are also increased on-going operating costs, including a TRS income tax (from the difference in the TRS lease rent), as well as on-going capital expenditure investments to maintain a competitive advantage and appeal within the market. Last, it’s critical the REIT maintains a solid asset management platform, including constant monitoring of operating metrics, and a team experienced in seniors housing operations and market fundamentals.

Overall, the RIDEA structure has definitely changed the way REITs look at potential investments, and with effective underwriting, program implementation, and asset management, and coupled with traditional NNN investments, the RIDEA structure can positively enhance the income growth and overall returns of a seniors housing portfolio. Feel free to contact me at scott@srgrowth.com. Or, visit my consulting website at www.srgrowth.com.

Per Resident Day Analysis

posted Jul 15, 2014, 7:59 PM by Scott McCorvie   [ updated May 6, 2017, 7:41 AM ]

By Scott McCorvie, Senior Living Growth Advisors - www.srgrowth.com.

 

Whether you’re creating a proforma model with varying lease-up and stabilization scenarios, or comparing the operating performance between different assets and operators, you’ve probably heard the term, “Per Resident Day” (PRD).  The PRD metric is one of the most useful performance tools within the industry, and can be successfully leveraged to add value in a number of different situations. Within this article, I’ll analyze the actual PRD calculation, discuss why this industry tool is so useful, and demonstrate several ways it can be used to create value in everyday applications.  

Let’s start with the actual calculation. Just as it sounds, the PRD calculation is the actual hard revenue and expense line-items divided by the number of resident days in the period (month, quarter, year, etc.). The revenues and departmental expenses are easily identified within the financials, but what if you don’t know the number of resident days? Well, this can actually be estimated by taking the number of occupied beds in the period, adding an estimate (or ratio) for second residents (double occupied units), and multiplying this figure by the number of days. So, if you had 90 occupied beds in June, and typically 10% are double occupied, the calculation would be ((90+9) x 30) = 2,970 resident days. You would then take the monthly expense (i.e., raw food costs of $18,500) and divide by the number of days (2,970) to calculate the PRD ($18,500 / 2,790) = $6.23 raw food costs PRD.

So, why is this metric so important? One of the greatest advantages in this tool is the ability to compare the operational performance between properties with varying sizes (number of units) and occupancy. Obviously the expenses are going to be higher at a 100% occupied 120-unit AL/MC property compared to a 90% occupied 40-unit MC property, but how do the same departmental expenses compare on a PRD basis? The 40-unit property may be doing a more efficient job in expense management, and actually have a lower PRD expense indication than the larger property. Or, the smaller property may be doing an excellent job in dietary, but the housekeeping and nursing expenses are much higher PRD. Having a solid understanding of the PRD performance between properties is not only valuable in comparing performance, but can also be used to identify key areas of inefficiency and help create plans for future improvement. Linking this performance to industry reports (State of Seniors Housing, etc.) can provide dynamic industry benchmarking analysis and dashboard reports.

PRD assumptions are also very crucial in creating sophisticated senior housing proforma models. Analyzing the revenues and expenses on a PRD basis can show regressions and trends within the performance that can be utilized to more accurately project the go-forward performance. Linking the proforma model to the appropriate PRD assumptions can also provide a more precise sensitively and scenario analysis. Last, including the PRD  variables with a multi-year staffing model, unit revenue matrix, and a monthly absorption can provide more in-depth forecast on future lease-up performance and stabilization. This can be crucial in accurately projecting the financial performance for new development, conversion projects, management transitions, and other lease-up scenarios.

Overall, the PRD metric is one of the more vital tools within the industry, and can be used within a number of applications. Feel free to send any comments or questions to me at scott@srgrowth.com. www.srgrowth.com

Senior Housing Development Feasibility

posted Jul 8, 2014, 7:44 AM by Scott McCorvie   [ updated May 6, 2017, 7:42 AM ]

By Scott McCorvie, Senior Living Growth Advisors - www.srgrowth.com.
With the increasing number of seniors housing transactions trading at a large premium to the replacement cost (sometimes double), along with the increased availability of construction debt, there seems to be a renewed energy in the seniors housing development space. However, what makes a seniors housing development project feasible?

Simply put, a development project is feasible with the expected returns are greater than (or equal to) the weighted average cost of capital (WACC). But, what is the WACC of each project, and how is it calculated? As an equation, the WACC is a percentage-based average of the cost of debt added to the cost of equity (WACC = (% debt x cost of debt) + (% equity x cost of equity)). Since the equity is in a riskier position then the debt (remember, the debt holder will always be paid first), the cost of equity is always higher than the cost of debt.

Let’s say you receive a 75% loan-to-cost construction loan with an effective (inclusive of loan fees, etc.) interest rate of 6%. Also, let’s say you were able to secure the remaining 25% equity from an investor expecting to make a total return of 20%. Multiplying these together will give you the implied WACC of 9.5% ((75% x 6%) + (25% x 20%)). In other words, you would need an unleveraged internal rate of return (IRR, or annualized total return) higher than or equal to 9.5% for the project to be feasible.

Since the internal rate of return includes a holding period assumption and uncertain exit cap rate (to be discussed in a later article), another simpler way to analyze the feasibility of the project is to measure the WACC to the stabilized yield-to-cost. The stabilized yield-to-cost is similar to a cap rate, but divides the expected stabilized net operating income by the total development budget (YTC = stab. income / dev. budget). The development budget should include all fees and costs needed to fully stabilize the project (including pre-marketing costs, development fees, and lease-up/interest reserves). So, for a senior housing development project to be feasible, the stabilized YTC must be higher than the WACC. Also, the selected market rates, care charges, and operating margin should be carefully analyzed to determine the suitability of the proforma assumptions. Since the annual income drives both feasibility metrics, an unrealistic proforma model can artificially inflate or deflate the returns.

Last, one of the most important metrics to determine the feasibility of the seniors housing development project is to analyze the total development budget on a per unit basis. If the development per unit cost is too high, there is risk that another developer will construct a less expensive seniors housing project down the street, be able to charge lower rates/fees, and most likely drive down your operating performance. But, what is an appropriate development cost per unit? Unfortunately, this varies from market-to-market (varying land costs, entitlement, licensure, CON, construction costs), and operator-to-operator (varying pre-marketing costs, management fees, lease-up reserves), but generally can be compared on a segmented basis by allocating the land costs, hard costs, soft costs, FF&E, contingencies, developer fees, pre-marketing costs, and reserves. Feel free to e-mail me at scott@srgrowth.com. www.srgrowth.com.

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