Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Real estate developers turning to housing for senior citizens



NEW DELHI | KOLKATA | MUMBAI | BENGALURU: Real estate developers in the country are increasingly turning to a mostly untapped segment where demand is on the rise - senior homes - even as there's a slowdown in the overall housing market.

Builders such as Tata Housing,  Paranjape Schemes, Adani Realty, Silverglades and Brigade have started setting up specially designed homes targeted at well-to-do seniors who have enough money and might want to live independently after retirement. And, unlike old-age homes of the past, most these senior home projects are part of larger projects and townships. 

"Today, builders realise that this could be a differentiating factor in their projects and could attract an entirely new market, which has been untapped so far," said Arun Gupta, chief executive officer at Age Ventures India, a private, non-profit trust that works with builders to design and manage senior homes. The growth opportunity is big - in 2012, India had 100 million senior citizens and the number is expected to double by 2030. 

"India currently contributes less than 1 per cent of the global senior living industry," said Manish Kumar, managing director for strategic consulting at property consultancy JLL India, highlighting the huge demand and supply gap of the sector - and its growth potential. According to JLL India, there are around 30-35 senior living projects in the country. So, what are the facilities senior home projects offer? 

Usually, one or two bedroom units; most of these homes have wider doors and bigger bathrooms for wheelchair access. Other finer details builders keep in mind include positioning grab rails at strategic places and ensuring that switch points are at wheelchair height rather than at the bottom. The apartment complexes come with facilities such as physio rooms, doctor-oncall, nurses and a common dining room if someone doesn't want to cook. 

Gupta of Age Ventures said a lot of people in the 54-72 age bracket have been buying these senior homes because they want to live independently.He said Age Ventures has tie-ups with hospitals to provide medical care to seniors living in the homes it manages. 

The firm has, for example, tied up with Columbia Asia Hospital in Ahmedabad where it is working with Adani Realty for a senior home project. Similarly , it has tie-ups with Artemis in Gurgaon for a Silverglades project and NH Hospitals in Bengaluru for a Brigade project. Adani Realty is building a senior home project within its township project Shantigram in Ahmedabad. 

"Till now there were no service providers catering to this segment. Most facilities for seniors were run by charitable trusts and were mostly for the lower income category ," says Dipesh Roy, vice president, marketing, at Adani Realty .

Paranjape Schemes has so far developed six such projects - five in Pune and one in Bengaluru - under its brand specifically for senior living, Athashri. Company chairman Shrikant Paranjape said it will start three more projects in the country this financial year and is also reviewing three projects in San Jose, USA, to finalise one to target senior Indians living there.

Om Ahuja, CEO, residential, at Bengaluru-based Brigade Group, said many friends are coming in groups to buy assisted living homes primarily keeping in mind their retirement. "People who are in their early and mid-40s are planning for future and are investing in retirement or assisted living homes as the children will eventually settle down abroad post study," he said. 

Tara Singh Vachani, CEO at Antara Senior Living, which has a project coming up in Dehradun, said, "Priority for Antara is to create vibrant residential communities." 



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