Is Senior Panic Driving Real Estate Prices?

Seniors Housing

A shock-wave swept through the Fraser Valley last week as a 1600 square foot, two-bedroom rancher in a 45+ community sold for $500,000 over the asking price. The housing market in BC is smoking hot, with low interest rates and high demand. Is it seniors looking to avoid senior care homes that are driving the demand? 

Langley Realtor Suki Bahi seems to think so. Bahi showed the property 110 times in five days. She provided insight to the Langley Advance Times on her customers,

 “Bahi said almost all of the bidders appeared to be older people, some of whom didn’t want to downsize to a care home during the pandemic, and others who were residents of care homes, and wanted to move out… “Seniors are seeking alternatives to care homes,” Bahi observed.”

“I was pretty shocked when I read the article,” notes Sherri Martin, Residency Coordinator for Sunridge Gardens and Magnolia Gardens retirement communities in Langley. “Not just by the selling price of the house, but also by a misrepresentation of care homes and senior living in general.”

In the world of senior living, a Care Home refers to long-term care facilities. Magnolia Gardens operates a 36 suite Care Centre as part of a much larger 115 suite independent living retirement community.  

“Residents who live in the Care Centre at Magnolia Gardens have access to 24/7 nursing care—they live with us because they choose to, and that’s the services they need to maintain a high quality of life. They’re not out shopping for new homes,” says Martin. Magnolia Gardens Care Centre provides nurses and care aides to assist residents with daily personal and health needs: meals, recreation, socialization are all adapted to meet the needs of seniors who require the highest level of care.

“The media coverage of Covid-19 outbreaks in care homes has muddied people’s understanding of the varied levels of seniors care and housing,” says Tanya Snow, Director of Bria Communities who operate the Langley properties noted above, as well as two senior living communities in Tsawwassen. “Care homes, assisted living facilities, and independent retirement living communities are all separate and distinct options, yet have been lumped together as the same and labelled as unsafe places for seniors to live,” she says. 

“This kind of overgeneralization is dangerous—it keeps seniors and their family members from understanding and accessing the housing solutions that are best for them,” notes Snow.

A 1600 square foot rancher may be the right decision for a senior couple looking to downsize and eliminate stairs. A two-bedroom suite in a vibrant retirement community with all-inclusive services may be the right decision for a senior who doesn’t want to deal with yard work and daily meal preparation. A suite in an assisted living facility may be the right decision for a senior who needs daily personal support. And a studio bedroom in a Care Centre may be the right decision for a senior who requires memory care support or mobility assistance. 

“Seniors need to continue to be informed of their options that improve health and promote living safely—that requires making wise decisions about housing based on facts, not panic,” says Snow. 

Sherri Martin often acts as a navigator for seniors and their family members who have begun the journey of looking at senior-friendly housing options. “Many times, I get calls from people who are trying to understand what options are available; it can be really overwhelming. Covid-19 has added a new level of confusion.”

But peace of mind can often be found in a simple conversation, says Martin. “I’m always happy to chat with people and answer their questions, even if our homes aren’t the right place for them. It’s pretty rewarding to come alongside people in their journey and clear up some of the misconceptions so they can make a great choice.”

Sherri Martin, Residency Coordinator for Sunridge Gardens and Magnolia Gardens in Langley (604.351.8668) or Andie Bakehouse, Residency Coordinator  for The Waterford and The Wexford in Tsawwassen (604.364.7156) are available to answer questions and offer insight.