Retirement living operators are taking the bold step of offering to buy family homes to help incoming residents who’ve been left stranded by the coronavirus-related property slowdown.
Palm Lake Resorts says it has introduced the home purchase initiative to support residents who are keen to move into its communities, but either don’t want to go through the sales process - or can’t find a buyer. Palm Lake has communities across NSW, Queensland and Victoria,
Palm Lake Resort Regional Sales Manager Jen Nichols said the company had purchased a range of properties since April.
“We’ve done this sort of thing a few times over the years, we did some (purchases) back around the global financial crisis, and we are doing it again now,” she said.
“It keeps things moving and stimulates the market, and helps the residents who want to move in and enjoy our lifestyle.”
Ms Nichols said the initiative was available to incoming residents who had put a deposit of at least $1,000 on a newly-built home (not a second hand home). She said it was also available to residents in any part of Australia.
“We are actually currently appraising a property an hour out of Melbourne and will look at any type of house or property,” Ms Nicholls said.
“For example, we have recently purchased an inner-city apartment and also a cattle station - so we are not just looking at suburban houses,” Ms Nichols said.
Ms Nichols said Palm Lake would sometimes sell or rent the properties it purchased, while at times it had held on to them as staff or builder’s accommodation.
Palm Lake said it would prefer to not specify how many properties it had purchased to date. The offer is only expected to be in place for a short time.
Palm Lake is not the only operator willing to consider home purchases.
Jason Sack, group general manager of national retirement living operator Living Choice said his organisation was willing to consider purchasing the homes of incoming residents, on a case-by-case basis.
“This only applies if the home they wish to purchase in the village is owned by Living Choice,” Mr Sack said.
“We believe the COVID-19 pandemic has strengthened the value proposition of retirement living communities and over the past few months, we have received many compliments from residents about how our staff members have risen to the challenge and assisted them to feel safe and secure.
“We also recognise that retirees seeking the sanctuary of a retirement community are going to find it difficult and stressful to sell their homes and we are here to help, where possible.”
Home purchase deal was like ‘winning the Lotto’
Robyn Naumann sold her Gold Coast unit to Palm Lake in April to allow her to move into the Sunshine Coast-based Palm Lake Resort Cooroy-Noosa community.
Ms Naumann and her husband had originally put a deposit down on her new Palm Lake Resort home back in February last year.
The Naumanns were keen to move from the Gold Coast to the Sunshine Coast, because of the change in lifestyle it offered and the fact her new home would be near family and friends.
However, all attempts to sell the Southport unit to give the Naumanns the funds to complete the home purchase were in vain.
“First we had the impact of the Banking Royal Commission, followed by Federal election causing a slowdown in investor activity, then it was quickly followed by bushfires, floods and COVID,” Ms Naumann said. “It was one thing after another and we weren’t able to sell the unit, even after moving our price down in line with market expectations.”
Ms Naumann said that by February 2020 she was fearful Palm Lake may be forced to sell her home to another person, because she was unable to complete the purchase.
“Then, in early April, I received a phone call and Palm Lake said it would like to make an offer on the unit, and gave me the parameters, and I said ‘too right’ and that I would be interested,” Ms Naumann said.
“It was like my husband and I being told we had won the Lotto. We really wanted to be there (at Cooroy-Noosa) and we haven’t been disappointed.”
The sale process took just two and half weeks to complete and the Naumanns moved into the Cooroy-Noosa resort around four weeks ago.
The idea of a retirement living operator making an offer on a home is broadly in line with the 'iBuying' trend in the United States, where technology-enabled companies make instant offers on homes. This model has enjoyed a resurgence in interest, during the corornavirus-related shutdown.