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Many investors are expecting boomers to spark a boom in senior housing, and while that is likely to happen, baby boomers are still a decade away from hitting the average age of senior housing occupants. Today, baby boomers are in their 60s and 70s, but senior housing occupants are typically age 82 or older. Despite being a decade away from baby boomers flooding senior housing demand, the segment is growing every year, and Southern California is trending better than the nation with an occupancy rate of 89.4%, compared to the national occupancy rate of 87.9%, according to research from National Investment Center for Seniors Housing & Care.

“Usually, when we think of senior housing, we think of the average resident as being over the age of 82 or higher,” Beth Burnham Mace, chief economist for NIC, tells GlobeSt.com. “You hear a lot of people talk about a senior housing boom because of the aging baby boomer demographic, but that isn’t really happening. Baby boomers were born between 1946 and 1964, so today, those baby boomers are 72. It is a number of years before the demographic arrives, so to speak. That isn’t to say the age-82-plus cohort isn’t growing, but it isn’t growing at the rate the rate that people associate with the baby boomers.”

While we haven’t hit the boomer boom for senior housing, Southern California is still underserved for senior housing. That is largely because construction activity has been moderate at best. Since 2014, there has been three been only 788 units of senior housing added to the market. “That is what you see in a lot of California markets because there are higher barriers to entry and the development costs are higher,” says Burnham Mace. “Senior housing might not always be the highest and best use, so there are competing needs for the land.”

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Kelsi Maree Borland

Kelsi Maree Borland is a freelance journalist and magazine writer based in Los Angeles, California. For more than 5 years, she has extensively reported on the commercial real estate industry, covering major deals across all commercial asset classes, investment strategy and capital markets trends, market commentary, economic trends and new technologies disrupting and revolutionizing the industry. Her work appears daily on GlobeSt.com and regularly in Real Estate Forum Magazine. As a magazine writer, she covers lifestyle and travel trends. Her work has appeared in Angeleno, Los Angeles Magazine, Travel and Leisure and more.

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