Capitalization Rates (or Cap Rates) are one of the primary metrics used by investors in evaluating commercial real estate investments. In short, cap rates measure the relationship between the price (or value) to the expected annual income (cap rate = income / price). Therefore, given even income at a property, a lower cap rate indicates an investor is willing to pay more for a property with a higher cap rate indicating a lower price.
How does this affect value? As in algebra, as long as we know two variables, we can solve for the third. So, if we know (or can reasonably estimate) the expected annual income at the property and can derive an appropriate cap rate from similar market transactions, we can solve for the expected price, or value (value = income / cap rate). So, the expected price of a senior housing property can ultimately be derived from both the income and market expectations of the capital (cap rate).
However, what property characteristics contribute to the variance in cap rates? Like all investments, an investor requires a higher rate of return for taking on additional risk. Simply put, with all other things being equal, cap rates measure the perceived risk in an investment. So, what makes a senior housing real estate investment more or less risky? One of the major factors in senior housing risk relates to the acuity level. A lower-acuity independent living community is not licensed, and does not provide nursing services, so the risk of improper care (or losing an AL license) is much lower than a higher-acuity memory care or skilled nursing facility. Although the income might be higher at a memory care facility, resulting in a higher value per unit, the overall cap rate will be lower with level income. Accordingly, a property located in a larger market is deemed to have a larger demand and employee pool, and is perceived to be a lower risk to a similar property in a smaller, tertiary market.
Scott McCorvie, CEO, Vita Senior Living
Scott leverages over 18 years of senior living real estate investment, development, and operations experience to increase performance and maximize value and investor returns. Learn more about Vita Senior Living and their investment strategy at www.vitaseniorliving.com or by emailing him directly at email@example.com.