Retirement village residents' movements were severely restricted in the pandemic lockdown but that didn't restrict buying appetite.
While residents were actively discouraged from leaving villages throughout New Zealand and few friends or relatives could get in, sales of major operators in the latter part of last year rose.
NZX listed retirement village owner Arvida today released sales results for the last quarter of 2020, showing a 29 per cent jump in the three months to December, compared to the prior quarter.
Earlier this month, Summerset Group said it has sold 225 properties in last year's third quarter but that shot up to 296 sales in the final three months of 2020. Of the 296 sales, the majority of 176 sales were for new places due to high development levels.
Jeremy Nicoll, Arvida's chief financial officer, said: "Post the initial lockdown, we saw an increase in sales inquiry, mainly due to potential residents seeing the villages as safe and some family members having concerned about their relatives being isolated during the lockdown in their own homes.
"That prompted a rise in inquiry levels for sales and those turned into settlements in the December quarter," Nicoll said.
Bill McDonald, Arvida chief executive, said he was "very pleased" to see such strong sales enquiry since the end of lockdown turning into settlements.
Arvida sold 130 occupation rights in the December quarter: 85 resales of places which residents had left and 45 new sales.
The company didn't state it, but reasons for re-sales include change of circumstances, illness, need for a higher level of care or death. Residents don't usually voluntarily leave villages because they lose up to 30 per cent of their money after three to four years.
Arvida has a much lower limit on age than other operators: only 65, compared to most others who ban under-75-year-olds buying.
The business now has 33 villages valued at $2b and its provides homes for just under 5000 reidents, making it New Zealand's 25th largest listed business.
McDonald said the business had done well post-lockdowns.
"With access to care centres restored, the settlement of serviced apartment sales has returned to normalised levels," McDonald said today.
Strong sales were recorded at Havelock North's Mary Doyle: all seven new villas released in the December quarter were sold and settled.
At Nelson's Waimea Plains, 17 of 25 stage two villas were sold and 11 were settled, McDonald said.
Arvida plans hundreds of new places.
"The new Aria Bay care suite centre in Browns Bay is now complete. The dual purpose suites are fully occupied with a combination of transferring and new residents. The dementia suites will be opening to residents in late February," the company said.
Arvida plans to finish 247 new units and hospital beds in FY21.
This includes delivery of the new Copper Crest care suite centre in Tauranga with 29 apartments and 55 care suites and the new care and apartments wing at St Albans in Christchurch, it said.