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Senior Housing Occupancy Exceeds 85% in Industry’s 10th Straight Quarterly Gain 

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Senior housing occupancy exceeded 85% in the fourth quarter of 2023, representing the industry’s 10th consecutive quarter of occupancy growth since the start of the pandemic.

That’s according to the latest occupancy data release from NIC MAP Vision on Jan. 11.

Occupancy rates for NIC MAP’s 31 primary markets increased to 85.1% in the fourth quarter of 2023, up from 84.3% in the third quarter of the year. The latest occupancy growth was driven by “record-high rates of demand,” according to NIC.

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In October, NIC projected the industry could reach pre-pandemic occupancy rates on average by 2024. At its current pace of occupancy growth the senior living industry is still on track to do so next year. Assisted living operators in NIC MAP’s 68 secondary markets have already fully recovered and exceeded pre-pandemic occupancy, according to the organization.

“At the current pace of average quarterly occupancy gains since mid-2021, the senior housing occupancy rate for the 31 Primary Markets is on track to reach pre-pandemic levels in the second half of 2024,” Caroline Clapp, NIC senior principal, told Senior Housing News.

Assisted living operators notched a 0.9% increase in average occupancy during the third quarter of the year, while independent living operators reported a 0.8% increase, reaching 83.4% and 86.8% in primary markets respectively for the quarter, respectively.

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Of the 31 NIC MAP primary markets, Boston, Baltimore and Minneapolis had the highest occupancy rates in the fourth quarter, at 90.7%, 88.6% and 88.1%, respectively. Houston, Atlanta and Las Vegas had the lowest rates at 79.3%, 81.8% and 82.1%.

The data also reports net absorption in the fourth quarter reached the highest level seen in 2023 at more than 8,400 units across the primary markets.

Higher costs of capital and lending woes have slowed the rate of new senior living community openings. During the fourth quarter of 2023, there was just a 0.4% increase in new senior living inventory. Senior living inventory grew 1.4% in 2023, representing the lowest annual increase since 2012.

Clapp also noted pandemic related supply chain issues and labor shortages factored into the slowdown of new inventory growth, though needs-driven demand for assisted living in particular has been “particularly strong.”

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