Occupancy in assisted living properties resumed its recovery in the first quarter of 2012, after remaining essentially flat in the previous 3 quarters.

"With occupancy continuing to rise, it appears the pace of the recovery remains slow but steady," says Michael Hargrave, vice president of NIC MAP, a data analysis service of the National Investment Center for the Seniors Housing & Care Industry.

According to NIC MAP, assisted living occupancy was 88.6% in 2012, a rise of .3 percentage points from the previous quarter. When examined in basis points – a unit equal to 1/100 of a percentage point – the increase represents:  

  • 20 basis points higher than the fourth quarter of 2011. 
  • 30 basis point more than the first quarter of 2011.
  • 130 basis points above the cyclical low for assisted living, which was reached in the first quarter of 2010. 

Other NIC MAP Statistics

  • All seniors housing: At 88.4%, first-quarter occupancy was only slightly lower for all seniors housing properties than it was for assisted living. This represents an increase of .2 percentage points over the last quarter of 2011 and a 0.8 percentage points over the prior year. The occupancy rate for seniors housing has risen consistently during the past 8 quarters. 
  • Independent living: The occupancy rate for independent living properties averaged 88.3% in the first quarter of 2012, an increase of .2 percentage points over the prior quarter.
  • Annual rent growth: Rent growth for seniors housing slowed to 1.2% during the first quarter of 2012, down from 1.6% in the fourth quarter of 2011. The sluggish growth “speaks to the challenges that a number of operators have been experiencing in achieving rental rate increases," says Chuck Harry, NIC's director of research and analysis.
  • Annual inventory growth: At 1.2%, inventory growth remained unchanged from the last and first quarters of 2011. 
  • Nursing homes: The nursing care occupancy rate was 88.2% in the first quarter of 2012, while inventory growth was -0.3%. Private-pay rents grew by 3% year-over-year, which is slower than the 3.4% rate reported at the end of 2011.