CHOICE membership

Retirement Villages- where do people go for unbiased, fairly-priced help?

The Baby Boomers need our help. On the cusp of - or amidst- retirement and with the weight of their Millennial and Gen Y children soaking up their life savings this generation are looking at options to downsize, capitalise and vitalise their living options in a very expensive era.

So-called ‘retirement villages’ are an option very popular in Australia and the USA, where people may obtain smaller residences. After looking for a relative this year though, these residences are often priced well-above the prices for suburban homes and come with expensive living inclusions for amenities, security, health care and transportation. Added to this are the legal inclusions that come with provisions for the retirement village corporate provider, placing caveats on family homes and the probability of hidden pricing on critical products for these residents that preclude them from selling-on their retirement villas, units, apartments and other housing types.

I’m interested to know whether there are consumer advocates in place to assist older people with the planning, examination of the legal situations for chosen destinations and the ongoing living costs that might not always be clear from the advertising speil. A rudimentary internet search uncovers stories of people being fleeced of their life’s savings, of health care concerns and families unable to recover the family’s birthright home or freely sell the retirement home they have purchased after that residence isn’t required any more.

5 Likes

Hi @gsmithpill, you might find our articles on choosing aged care and retirement village contracts of interest. In addition you might find the My Aged Care is a useful resource. Let us know if you have any experience using these services or further questions.

NSW Fair Trading has identified fees and charges for retirement village living to be a severe problem area and I believe they are looking into providing tools that hopefully will provide consumers more transparency when making decisions about whether to move into a retirement village, and which one, etc.

For now, what can be said is that retirement village living should not be seen as an investment option. At best, it is a lifestyle option, because of the community set up. It is significantly different from downsizing by purchasing a unit that is smaller than what you currently own because generally speaking, in addition to the lump sum you pay at the start, you will have to pay significant ongoing fees and share the capital gains with the village operator when it is is time to move out.

My biggest concern is for friends who have sold up and moved to retirement villages on the glossy sales pitch, if after a while they decide that village life is not for them, is that the terms of their subsequent villa sales are so onerously in favour of the operator that most of them don’t have enough capital behind them and therefore cannot afford to move out and buy a regular house again.
My advice to anyone considering it is think carefully as the capital growth is largely harvested by the operator and the management/maintenance fees are as onerous as council rates.

3 Likes

Somewhat reminds me of the dodgy super plans with ordinary performance and huge exit fees to escape a bad investment, that used to be the norm. Seems government, despite all evidence to the contrary, remains of the opinion private enterprise can be trusted, no oversights needed […to put as many dollars in their pockets as possible]. What you have described is modern capitalism at its finest where they target a generally vulnerable group for max profits to the business/developer and no protections to the consumer beyond caveat emptor.

1 Like

There are alternatives to retirement villages, and they are becoming more popular overseas…

2 Likes

If you live in Victoria, the Residents of Retirements Villages (RRVV) has a website which sets out various factors concerning living in retirement villages. Other States have similar associations. At the moment there is an Inquiry into Retirement Housing being conducted - see the Victorian Parliament website- Legal and Social Issues Committee. There are numerous submissions to read there from various retirement village residents. It helps if the village is well run and the residents are happy with the management and the way problems are resolved.

My husband and I moved into a retirement village some years ago due to his serious health condition and my health problems. This is the main reason, according to research, that people move into retirement villages - downsize to a smaller unit due to declining physical ability to maintain the large former family home. The concept is a good one with social activities and village facilities to combat social isolation.

It is certainly not a situation which results in a good financial outcome when the resident’s unit needs to be sold when they leave the village due to death, need for permanent residential care or wish to live somewhere else due to the Deferred Management Fees, refurbishment fees, selling fees and sometimes loss of capital gain. So choose carefully and do plenty of research about the subject.

3 Likes

Vic government is currently Sep -Nov 2016 holding an enquiry into the retirement housing sector.
I am watching with interest to the outcome.
http://www.parliament.vic.gov.au/lsic/article/2971

3 Likes

It appears that the elderly are nothing but profit fodder to at least one major provider.

3 Likes

A bit more

3 Likes

The fact that AVEO doubled to it’s profit in ayear speaks volumes.

The pollies are busy giving a lot of lip service to the scandalous treatment of people living in retirement village as identified by the Fairfax/Four Corners investigation, but I suspect that not much will be actually done to fix the problems.

Lots of smoke and mirrors will be gesticulated by them appearing to act but ‘I wouldn’t bet the farm’ on any real reform.

It would be interesting to know whether the companies or their related parties at the centre of this scandal like AVEO make donations to the major political parties? I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that they did it seems to be business trick 101 amongst ‘rent seekers’.

Another interesting article on alternative options:

2 Likes

NSW appears to have taken some steps to raise the industry’s game.

https://thenewdaily.com.au/news/state/nsw/2018/06/24/retirement-villages-nsw/

1 Like