News & Press Releases

Senior Housing Occupancy Increases in First Quarter of 2022 Despite Omicron Variant

ANNAPOLIS (April 7, 2022) – Senior housing occupancy increased to 80.6% in the first quarter of 2022 in the 31 NIC MAP Primary Markets, a 0.2 percentage point increase from the fourth quarter of 2021 and a 2.5 percentage point increase from a pandemic-related low of 78.0% in the second quarter of 2021, according to new NIC MAP® data, powered by NIC MAP Vision. This is the third consecutive quarter of increasing occupancy.

“The increase in senior housing occupancy despite the highly contagious Omicron variant is a testament to the success of the COVID-19 vaccines and to the infection control policies operators put in place to keep residents safe,” said Beth Burnham Mace, chief economist and director of outreach for the National Investment Center for Seniors Housing & Care (NIC).

The low supply of senior housing and care properties could be a driver of occupancy growth. Inventory growth in the first quarter was the weakest since 2013 because of the pandemic-driven slowdown in construction starts in 2020. Units under construction measured the lowest since 2015.

“It takes about two years for a senior housing property to be built and opened, so the low number of units under construction means that supply will likely stay low and support higher occupancy,” said Chuck Harry, NIC’s chief operating officer. “This is a positive trend for the industry as it recovers units vacated during the pandemic.”

According to NIC MAP Vision, 59% of the senior housing units vacated during the pandemic have now been re-occupied within NIC MAP’s Primary Markets. Boston (85.5%), San Jose (84.5%), and Portland (84.4%) had the highest senior housing occupancy within NIC MAP’s Primary Markets. The markets with the lowest occupancy rates included Houston (76.7%), Atlanta (76.5%), and Cleveland (76.3%).

Not all senior housing types are faring the same. Occupancy at assisted living properties increased while independent living occupancy ticked down, likely because assisted living is more needs-based and demand is increasing more quickly. Growth in inventory exceeded growth in demand for independent living, which pressured occupancy lower, while growth in inventory was dwarfed by growth in demand for assisted living. More specifically:

  • Assisted living occupancy increased 0.5 percentage point from the fourth quarter to 77.9%, up from its pandemic low of 74.2% in the second quarter of 2021 but still below its pre-pandemic level of 84.6%.
  • Independent living occupancy slipped back 0.1 percentage point to 83.1% but was still up 1.4 percentage points from its pandemic low of 81.7% in the second quarter of 2021 and still below its pre-pandemic level of 89.7%.
  • Nursing care occupancy increased 0.4 percentage point to 77.6%, up from its pandemic low of 74.1% in the first quarter of 2021 but still below its pre-pandemic level of 86.6%.

Annual rental rates rose across NIC MAP’s Primary Markets by 4.1% for assisted living in the first quarter. This was the largest increase since NIC MAP Vision began reporting the data in 2005. Annual growth in rental rates for independent living was 2.7%.

A summary of the NIC MAP Market Fundamentals Data, released by NIC MAP Vision, is below. The complimentary version of the Market Fundamentals report will be available at 4:30 p.m. ET on April 7.

Data believed to be accurate, but not guaranteed, and subject to future revision.

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About the National Investment Center for Seniors Housing & Care
The National Investment Center for Seniors Housing & Care (NIC), a 501(c)(3) organization, works to enable access and choice by providing data, analytics, and connections that bring together investors and providers. The organization delivers the most trusted, objective, and timely insights and implications derived from its analytics, which benefit from NIC’s affiliation with NIC MAP Vision, the leading provider of comprehensive market data for senior housing and skilled nursing properties. NIC events, which include the industry’s premiere conferences, provide sector stakeholders with opportunities to convene, network, and drive thought-leadership through high-quality educational programming.  For more information, visit NIC’s website and follow NIC on Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook.

About NIC MAP Vision
NIC MAP Vision is a leading provider of comprehensive market data for the seniors housing and care sector. NIC MAP Vision brings together two strong, well-respected, and complimentary teams and platforms – the market-leading NIC MAP® Data Service (NIC MAP) and VisionLTC’s best-in-class market research analysis platform. For more information, visit NIC MAP Vision’s website.

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