Outstanding Senior Housing Investment Backed By Science

Little Venice of Mykonos
(C) Artist: Badri Lazare, Greece

We’re all aware that quick lease-up and long-term resident retention can be extremely profitable for senior housing communities, be it 55-plus or assisted living.

What’s much less obvious is how to do both with a simple change in the commercial interior of the space.

In fact, it’s taken me years of working with major senior housing developers, as well as being an investor in that asset class, to realize the answer.  This is an answer which is backed by quite a bit of scientific research.

Ready? Install attractive and interesting original artwork.

Original art will aid in two major areas:

1. Attractive and interesting original art will literally elevate the mood of prospects (and your staff) and will create a much stronger sense of quality for your community. These factors will increase the speed of lease-up

2. Attractive and interesting original art will psychologically and physically increase the health, and therefore the stay, of the residents.

Studies prove this.

Good art increases leasing

When touring various communities, prospective renters, and often their adult children, will visit multiple options in an area.

In both cases, if you have attractive original art in your lobby and community rooms, it will increase the perception of your community as a “high quality” location.  This is clearly an advantage to your community.

More importantly, and perhaps surprisingly, scientific research has found that viewing  attractive art will also greatly increase the mood of the prospective resident, and of the prospective resident’s adult child if they are present.

According to a study covered in The Telegraph, brain scans of subjects showed as much as a 10 percent increase in blood flow to certain parts of the brain when they looked at paintings they found beautiful.  This is, according to the scientists, equivalent to the increase in blood flow to the brain when a person sees someone they love.

Quality art will therefore make prospects feel that they love your property.

So on the leasing side, you are increasing the perception of your property quality, as well as elevating the mood of the prospects as they tour the space.

Imagine that effect.

When they visit a competitor, either before or after visiting a space with beautiful art, their mood will be lower.  In your property, they will feel positive, and in comparison, at neighboring options without original art, the prospects will feel less happy.

This will be very compelling when making a significant decision on where to live, or where to have your parent or spouse live.  As they think over the options, they will agree that they felt much better in your community.

You will take a larger market share, and your lease-up will be more rapid.

This effect will have the same positive benefits on your leasing over time as you fill vacancies that arise.

Good Art Increases Health, and therefore, Tenant Retention

Those living independently in a 55-plus community can stay in place for longer if they are healthier.  Those in assisted living can also stay in place longer if they are healthier.

A piece by the Vancouver Visual Arts Foundation points to a study of more than 10,000 people in Norway who viewed art in art galleries.  In this study, it was found that “they discovered a strong correlation between good physical health and participating in artistic activities. Involvement with artistic or cultural activities was positively associated with better health, lower anxiety and lower occurrences of depression.”

This year, the Wall Street Journal did a story in which they quote actor Bill Murray as saying that earlier in his life, he was suicidal.

At that time, Murray saw a painting of a hopeful young woman and while viewing it, decided that if that woman could be hopeful for a better future, he, too, could be hopeful.

He specifically credits that painting, and his reaction to it, with saving his life.

There are more studies that speak to the health benefits of viewing art, even in hospitals.

A specific study of Cost-Benefit Analysis determined that placing good original art in hospitals decreases hospital stay length by decreasing patient stress and anxiety.

In their study, it was determined that an expenditure of several thousand dollars per piece for each hospital room, as well as for properly framing each piece, resulted in a 4X cost reduction through decreased hospital nights.

In addition, as found in the hospital studies, the art will reduce stress and keep the staff happier, as well.  The decrease in staff turnover, hiring and training is another financial gain.

Multifamily owners and developers and assisted living facility owners and developers look at occupancy month-to-month.  A solid return on investment when purchasing original art for a community is required.

Based on the noted studies, and dozens of others like them, viewing attractive art can indeed improve blood flow to the brain, lift spirits, reduce depression and anxiety, and create a healthier life.

From an investment standpoint, it is clear that if just a handful of people can stay for an additional six months each based on health increases due to the artwork in their community, their extra monthly payments should cover the cost of the initial investment in the artwork — with a profit.

Because the artwork can stay in place for a decade or more, the return on investment will continue to rise.

More rapid lease-up, extended tenant retention and quicker re-leasing clearly drops to the bottom line.

Let me know if you’d like me to help you determine a realistic budget and implement this happen at your property.

It’s a win-win for you, your residents and your on-site staff.