Increases in average life expectancy and the desire for a better quality of life may bring senior living opportunities in Portugal
Residences adapted for more elderly populations represent a strong investment opportunity in Portugal in keeping with the trend prevailing in international markets.
According to a study released by Savills, the international real estate consultant, the demand for better living conditions among senior citizens coupled with the rise in the average life expectancy has resulted in the emergence of a business opportunity in Portugal: investing in senior living, residences adapted for the senior population and providing a range of differentiated and quality services common to elderly persons homes.
In Portugal, the provision of assistance and care to the elderly is undertaken by the ERPIs – Residential Structures for the Elderly, thus, Old Person’s Homes run by institutions and charities and designed for seniors holding only low levels of autonomy and in need of constant medical care and support.
In parallel with this provision, the national market has experienced the entrance of private operators who based their operations in areas with higher purchasing power and greater population densities, as is the case with the Lisbon and Oporto markets.
Private residences receiving differentiated services
These private residences prove different from the ERPIs as they count on the new services and care available for this population segment. Savills accounted for a total of 64 senior residences across the country within the framework of this private residence concept and that correspondingly stand out from traditional old people’s homes.
Through prioritising quality and greatly valued innovation, these private groups present an approach to their target market that is comparatively different to that of the non-profit sector. Focused on the optimisation of resources and the professional management of their teams and services, the private operators stand out for the introduction of various concepts depending on the level of service and care provided.
These residences provide services as varied as private suites, swimming pools, recreational rooms, laundry, restaurants and cinema. In addition to leisure, such residences also make available healthcare services such as physiotherapy rooms, beauty parlours, pharmacies, nursing services, individual plans and geriatric assistance. In order to make such services available to their residents, the establishments reach agreements with different hospital entities that thereby also ensure the quality of these services.
We may also observe the existence of mixed models that integrate a connection with the National Continuous Care Network and privately provided living facilities.
Private operators raise their investment intentions in this segment
Portugal counts on the presence of various large scale private operators with the following groups leading the way: Orpea, José de Mello Residências, Luz Saúde and Residências Montepio.
Since their foundation, some of the groups present in the national market have experienced an evolution in their operating model. Initially, their focus was exclusively based on the provision of domestic healthcare but, more recently, they have begun to focus to a greater extent on residential models.
Not overlooking how the current unprecedented conjuncture may bring about delays to expansion intentions, there are various promotors seeking to continue investing in expanding their provision of senior residential models: Montepio, Amera, Clece, and the BF and Mello groups lead the way in plans to open more residential units.
Lisbon with more infrastructures and the Algarve with a higher occupancy rate
Between 2000 and 2020, the installed response capacity of senior homes and residences increased by 81%. The districts of Lisbon and Oporto account for the largest proportion of ERPIs in Portugal, representing 24.7% of the total number of beds nationally (24,393 beds distributed among 618 residences).
In turn, the Algarve market, which as a region has seen sharp growth in its elderly international population in comparison with the markets of Lisbon and Oporto, returns higher occupancy rates but with a lower number of beds and units available. In Faro District, a total of 84 senior residencies were identified and containing 3,810 beds with an occupancy rate of 95.4%.
International population may drive the trend in senior residences
A market opportunity in Portugal also emerges for senior residences focused on non-nationals, with their locations preferably in areas near to the coast. The magazine Forbes recently nominated the Algarve as the best place to experience retirement, highlighting the climate, the level of security, the beaches, the infrastructures, the healthy lifestyle and the affordable cost of living.
The purchase of residences by persons aged over 65 may represent an interesting opportunity for the senior living segment based on market fundamentals that place Portugal in the front row of the most attractive countries in which to spend retirement. For this age group, who aspire to actively live out their golden years, the investment in residential units that may later become units aligning with the senior living concept both for persons experiencing total autonomy and for those who may come to need medical services and healthcare.
Market beginning to attract the interest of international investment
With demand outstripping the available supply, the senior residential market displays strong reasons for explaining the depth of its attractiveness. The competitiveness experienced in other segments of the real estate market does not occur on such a large scale for this asset class that furthermore displays highly appealing characteristics for investors seeking to diversify the level of risk in their portfolios.
In 2018, the Portuguese investment market recorded the sale of the first senior living real estate assets. Far short of the investment turnover registered by other mature European markets, Portugal brings together all the variables necessary to successfully attract investors and international operators of renown and to position itself as one of the strongest European destinations for this real estate segment.
The leading investors expected in this market shall be a mixture of international and national players even while, in a first phase, they may mostly focus on operating their own residential units.