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Room to grow senior housing projects in Singapore but challenges remain: study

SINGAPORE'S ageing population may offer opportunities for the development of private senior housing projects provided homeowners are able to monetise their existing housing assets, according to a research report by Edmund Tie & Company.

One in eight Singaporeans were senior citizens in 2015, with the proportion expected to double in 2030, according to the Department of Statistics. Therefore, the need for more elderly friendly features has grown as more lifestyle and accessibility solutions need to be catered for the elderly.

The report titled "Senior housing in the private sector: What shape and form?", also found that senior residents living in public housing have ample options to monetise their flats, such as the Lease Buyback Scheme, Silver Housing Bonus Scheme and HDB Flexi Flats. However, the same cannot be said of those who own private residential properties. They have fewer options, for instance moving to public housing.

Social stigma associated with elder housing solutions may also deter buyers from such projects.

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"While elderly friendly features will command higher demand over time, it may take more time for buyers to change their mindsets and view them as value-added features," the report said.

The insufficient supply of nursing homes for the elderly was also cited as a challenge.

While adult communities such as those in the US provide amenities and space to meet the needs of older residents, land scarcity and the associated cost of land in Singapore may hinder the development of such communities, with neighbouring countries more likely to offer better options, it said.

Such projects are also likely to be less accessible to middle and lower-income individuals in Singapore.

"If Singapore were to build such active adult communities vertically, it would only be affordable to individuals who are in the middle-upper income bracket. The buyers are likely to come from retiring private-home owners," the report said.

A possible solution cited for both property developers and seniors would be co-living spaces for retiring singles.

The report concluded that retiring individuals must conduct their financial planning ahead of their retirement to maintain their quality of life when they retire.

"There is a need for the elderly to liquidate their existing property assets to finance such living arrangements and live comfortably," the report said.