The returns from investing in the UK commercial care homes sector are undoubtedly attractive. But, beyond that, what this particular investment extends, above other investments, is the fulfilment of having played a part in providing care for those who need it.
Investor interest in the UK healthcare market reached historic highs this year.
By the end of May, investment volumes had hit £687bn – significantly higher than the £492bn invested in the same period last year and the £417bn reported in 2016.
Notable transactions in the first quarter of 2018 alone include Triple Point Social Housing REIT’s investment in supported housing worth more than £40m and Impact Healthcare REIT’s sale-and-leaseback deal on three purpose-built care homes operated by Prestige Care Group for £17m.
Healthcare is becoming an increasingly popular sector for investors. Results from CBRE’s recent EMEA Investor Survey show that healthcare is one of the most popular subsectors of the alternatives market, with large numbers of investors looking to get into the sector.
This is reflected in increased demand: in spite of healthcare staffing challenges arising from Brexit and a social care funding crisis, occupancy rates for UK care homes rose for the fifth consecutive year. Demand for the sector is now at its highest level in over 20 years, translating to a record volume of about £12bn healthcare deals in 2017, reports Knight Frank. It is anticipated that investment volumes in healthcare real estate will continue to grow thanks to strong investor demand for this sort of long-dated, fixed-income stock.
CBRE reports that the key factor underpinning the potential for future growth in the UK’s healthcare real estate sector is the need to accommodate the mounting care needs of the British aging population.
And, these needs are real, especially if one looks at the estimated shortfall of 148,777 market standard beds by 2021 coupled with 6,600 care homes at risk of closure over the next five years. Currently, 85% of care home stock in the UK is over 40 years old with half of the existing 480,000 care home beds not fit for purpose.
CBRE projects over-85s in Britain to grow by 50% to 2.28m in 2026, quadrupling to make up a total of 8.8% of the UK’s population by 2081.
Dementia is a growing concern among the elderly as well, with a pressing need for specialist care to give sufferers an adequate standard of living. In the absence of a cure, the overall number of people in the UK with diagnosable dementia will treble to over 2.5 million by 2081.
In the care home sector alone, this growth will result in the need for an additional 200,000 specialist dementia beds over the next 25-30 years, representing an increase of 40% on current numbers.
Knight Frank Head of Healthcare, Julian Evans, said that investment was needed in the current market with demand outstripping supply.
He stressed that the care home sector was facing a “national crisis” of undersupply with 5,000 beds brought to the market last year and 7,000 beds being decommissioned.
Virata Thaivasigamony of property consultancy CSI Prop echoed the findings from CBRE’s Investor Survey, saying that there has been good response among Malaysian investors towards UK care homes.
“Our last few launches sold out quickly, but we are introducing more projects from this segment to meet the high demand that we have seen among Malaysian investors.”
But for him, there is more to the investment than monetary gains.
“What the elderly care homes investment extends to the investor — above other investments — is the fulfilment of having done something for the good of others. Yes, it is undoubtedly a profitable venture, but it is also an investment that adds value to society and truly makes a difference.
“Caring for the elderly and infirm, especially those with dementia, is not akin to caring for an elderly but, otherwise, relatively healthy mother or relative at home. It requires specialised care. It is enabling the elderly to have dignity in the last few years of life, providing them with the care that their children, family member and friends cannot provide for them,” Virata said.
UK Care Homes Vs Malaysian Property
There is good reason for the high investor demand. The comparison of investment yields below shows that UK care homes offer much higher returns compared to local residential property, with the added benefit of an easy exit:
At the moment, residential property in Malaysia is showing lacklustre demand among investors. The glut of unsold housing indicates that the local market is currently on a downward trend, which is driving investors to search of better returns elsewhere.
The number of unsold completed residential units for the first quarter of 2018 totalled 34,532 units, worth RM22.26bil, the National Property Information Centre reported in June.
This represents a 55.72% increase from the 22,175 unsold units last year.
In ringgit values, this represents a rise of 67.82% from last year’s RM13.27 bil.
What are your thoughts about the investors flocking to the Care Homes sector in the UK? Drop us a comment below. If you are interested to jump on the Care Homes bandwagon with the potential for high returns, don’t hesitate to give us a call at 3163 8343 (Singapore), 03-2162 2260 (Malaysia), or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org!
By Ian Choong
- Featured image from cygnet.care