Growing demand for retirement resorts

  • Business
  • Thursday, 18 Apr 2013

PETALING JAYA: A number of professional developers are mulling venturing into the field of retirement and assisted-living style projects, aimed at the elderly an untapped market in Malaysia.

Checks with industry players revealed that the developers were studying various models in terms of project layouts as well as the different financing models on how these units could be sold or leased.

Private developer Gracious Homes Sdn Bhd is building a 55.85ha retirement resort called The Green Leaf Retirement Resort Community in Sepang, Selangor.

The first phase of the resort is expected to include service suites, retirement residences, a medical centre and an activity club.

There will be three phases. The resort is designed to be an activity-based destination with amenities and facilities including spas, malls and cafes, according to its website.

It is designed for those who “want to enjoy life and have the assurance that their security and well-being is well-looked after,” it said.

When contacted, a company spokesperson said the housing units within the resort were expected to cost between RM700 and RM1,000 per sq ft, but this had not been finalised. “We have not yet launched the units, hence, the construction dates have not been set and sales have not started,” he said.

Depending on market conditions, the launch is expected to be in the third quarter of the year.

He said the ownership structure would be based on regular real-estate statutory requirements, with the additional availability of care and service options.

“We personally believe that demand would grow steadily, given the growing ageing population and the obvious shortage in supply of retirement options,” he added.

IJM Land Bhd, meanwhile, is also considering a similar business.

Group managing director and chief executive officer Datuk Soam Heng Choon said he saw opportunities in building retirement communities as people become more receptive to this concept.

“We are now ready to look at the retirement community concept and may consider incorporating that into some of our townships at a later stage,” he said.

He said the idea was to create a community, and relevant services would be provided to ensure conduciveness for the residents.

The company was studying the trends and finding out more about the demand for retirement communities, he reiterated, adding that the concept, although new in Malaysia, had been implemented in developed countries.

“There are four different stages in the needs of home buyers. People start off by buying a small house as first-time home buyers. When people get married and establish a family, they need bigger houses. “When they prosper over time, they aspire to own even better homes like a bungalow or a high-end niche condominium.

“The last stage is when ageing parents face the empty nest scenario,” he said.

He explained an old couple might then want to “downsize” their house to a “manageable” unit.

Therein lies the potential for retirement communities.

The developer is mulling a possible “sell on lease” concept, where the beneficiaries of the retirement unit owners would have to sell the units back to the developer when the owners pass away.

The proceeds would then be given to their beneficiaries, after which the developer would sell the unit to other retirees, he said.

Chan Wei Keat, who helps heads private property development firm Midvest Asia Sdn Bhd, is also hoping to jump on the bandwagon.

Chan, who is the son of Wah Seong Corp Bhd group managing director and chief executive officer Chan Cheu Leong, said Midvest was looking to partner an Australian company for this purpose to tap into its knowledge and skills.

Its retirement community is proposed to be built on 10.93ha near Bukit Jalil, Kuala Lumpur, and would comprise semi-detached units and later, condominiums.

“We want to get rid of the usual stigma associated with retirement houses. This would be a community place where people would feel good to live in,” he said.

He planned to launch the first two phases of the project in the next one year.

Another Malaysian company that has experience with retirement home development is Mulpha International Bhd. It is the single largest shareholder in FKP Property Group, Australia's leading property investment company.

The Australian-listed FKP is also the largest private sector owner-operator of retirement villages in Australia and New Zealand.

Under the Aveo brand, FKP is the operator and owner of 75 retirement villages around Australia, that have over 12,000 residents, according to the company's 2012 annual report.

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