Welcome to Bridge the Gap with hosts Josh Crisp and Lucas McCurdy. A podcast dedicated to inform, educate and influence the future of housing and services for seniors. Bridge the Gap aims to help shape the culture of the senior living industry by being an advocate and a positive voice of influence which drives quality outcomes for our aging population.

Data Trends and Occupancy in the Senior Housing Market with NIC MAP Vision COO Kyle Gardner

NIC MAP Vision COO Kyle Gardner discusses how NIC MAP Vision’s data set is collecting rate, occupancy, inventory and demand metrics for senior housing.


If you pause for a second on the occupancy rate and you look at occupied units, we've exceeded the number of occupied units now versus pre-pandemic levels.

Kyle Gardner

Guest on This Episode

Josh Crisp

Owner & CEO Solinity

Josh Crisp is a senior living executive with more than 15 years of experience in development, construction, and management of senior living communities across the southeast.

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Lucas McCurdy

Owner & Founder The Bridge Group Construction

Lucas McCurdy is the founder of The Bridge Group Construction based in Dallas, Texas. Widely known as “The Senior Living Fan”.

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Kyle Gardner

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There are people winning right now and having success!

Quick Overview of the Podcast

NIC MAP Vision COO Kyle Gardner discusses how NIC MAP Vision’s data set is collecting rate, occupancy, inventory and demand metrics for senior housing, and how these data and trends are providing customers with valuable insight.

This episode was recorded at the NIC Fall Conference.

Produced by Solinity Marketing.

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Welcome to season seven of Bridge The Gap, a podcast dedicated to informing, educating, and influencing the future of housing and services for seniors. Powered by sponsors Accushield, Aline, NIC MAP Vision, ProCare HR, Sage, Hamilton CapTel, Service Master, Patriot Angels, The Bridge Group Construction and Solinity. And produced by Solinity Marketing.

Lucas 00:48

Welcome to Bridge The Gap podcast, the senior living podcast with Josh and Lucas. A very exciting NIC conversation here with a good friend of ours and a great supporter of the platform. Kyle Gardner of NIC MAP Vision. Welcome back to the show.

Kyle 1:03

Yeah, thanks for having me guys. Good to see you again. Ready to talk about some data.

Lucas 1:07

That's right. We are going to talk data today and you're going to want to lean in on this because this type of information, typically people are paying lot of money to get. Kyle and NIC MAP Vision have agreed to come alongside Bridge The Gap and providing this information in a format on our podcast that's never been provided to the industry before. So this is something that's really, really special. And we're also at NIC and I believe that you said, was it 84 demos? 84 meetings that your team is having discussing what NIC MAP Vision offers?

Kyle 1:38

Yeah, we have a lot of interest and we're very blessed to have that. Our team is busy meeting with customers, meeting with new prospects, and just trying to figure out how we can bring value to them and their businesses.

Lucas 1:48

It is very valuable and it is a one of a kind solution provider for data in the industry that's never been available before. Of course, that's been emerging over the past few years. For our listeners that we're not able to travel to NIC and come and sit and get this demo, this is a really special time for us to ask these questions and get this information. We've got a couple of questions and I know you've got some information to share with us. Let's start off by just talking about what is the data that we're going to be going over today.

Kyle 2:16

The largest part of our business is our NIC MAP Data Set, which has been around for almost two decades. It's the longest time series, data set of rate, occupancy, inventory and demand metrics for senior housing. Every quarter our customers join us for a webinar where we talk about the latest data collected from our team, changes in occupancy, changes in rate for each care segment. You're going to hear me talk about primary markets and secondary markets today. With our NIC MAP Data Set, we cover about 140 metros across the country. That's specifically for the performance data. Think about the largest metros from population size one to one 40. And that's more or less where we are. And so each quarter we talk about trends in those areas, what's going on. And a lot of our customers want to understand not just "what" but "why." And so I hope to bring a couple of those talking points for you today.

Lucas 3:02

Occupancy is a great place to start. It's a big topic of conversation. I've heard a variety of different answers to that. Some are very positive, some are not so optimistic. So give us the data. Where are we at?

Kyle 3:15

I first want to give a big shout out to my data collection and engineering team back home. They're behind the scenes. They're the ones gathering, preparing and doing some QA work on this to make sure we all get it right when we're working in the market. So big shout out to that team. The top line takeaway is that occupancies are going up at large across the primary markets for a senior housing occupancy, which is a blend of independent living and assisted living communities. It's up about 80 basis points to a number, 84.4% last quarter. So we're still working on it. We're not perfectly back to that pre-pandemic level across all primary markets. There's sturdy one of them, but it's a nice improvement and it's a continued improvement. I think that's the important thing is that markets are getting better. Two of those primary markets are already above their pre-pandemic number, not all 31, but we're seeing real change and that's exciting.

Josh 4:05

Well, that is exciting with how much data you collect, how much you look at the trends. Is there a forecast on when we will be back at that point of pre-pandemic occupancy levels?

Kyle 4:18

If you pause for a second on the occupancy rate and you look at occupied units, we've actually exceeded the number of occupied units now versus pre-pandemic levels. Part of the reason the percentage is not the same as obviously some new supplies come onboard over the last couple years. It's what we think of as pre-pandemic is first quarter of 20'. And then where we think of comparing to now is third quarter of 23'. So there's obviously some time for projects to open up and things of that nature. From a percentage standpoint, if we make some assumptions, which you have to when you're forecasting and you're thinking about that, we think sometime in 24' we will see most of the primary markets come back to their percentage. But that requires that we keep the momentum we have right now. Obviously markets are kind of choppy, so if something changes as the, if the fed bumps rate again or there's some new macro headwind that may not be the case, but the famous economic phrase "all else being equal," we could be there in '24.

Josh 5:17

What would you say is the biggest contributing factor or several contributing factors that we're seeing these gains? Is it just sheer volume of people that need this type of care? Is it perception changes? Are we doing better as an industry? I mean, what do you think is going on there?

Kyle 5:35

Yeah, absolutely. I think it's a little bit of all of the above. I think that people are starting to get more comfortable in their post-covid world, not only us as service providers in the industry, but also customers and their families. They're realizing specifically with assisted living and memory care and the more acute based systems that they can get care, they can find quality out there and so they're willing to have those tours. The major headwind that I'd be a fool not to bring up is the demographic growth curve. From 2020 to 2030, the number of people over the age of 80 is going to grow by something like 40%, maybe.

Lucas 6:14

My gosh.

Kyle 6:14

Maybe more. And then from 2030 to 2050, it's going to double. 40% growth in one decade and then a hundred percent growth in a two decade span. And that has a lot of opportunity and you know, a huge amount of challenges.

Kyle 6:29

I have some other data points on construction. I'd love to dive into. The first baby boomer is going to turn 80 in 2026. And so that's typically, you know, the average move in age typically gets quoted as like 82 to 84, but that's the average. So there are buildings that are serving a younger demographic, maybe it's an IL/AL mix where they get 'em a little bit younger. Not every time I think some of the publicly traded companies have had comments around seeing older 70 year olds come into their buildings, which is nice. And so that would be the baby boomer today is someone who's 77 or 78.

Josh 7:02

And you just kind of alluded to the construction, which you know, backtracking a little bit back prior to 2020 there was a lot more inventory coming into the market. How is the inventory, the construction impacting this? You've got this huge opportunity of people needing care and getting to that age. I think you said 2026 is kind of when it really starts hitting, someone's just now starting to think about a project. That project may not be opening till close to 2026, but you know, we're just not seeing all the construction because of a lot of factors. I'm sure you're going to be able to give us some data on. What is that like over the last few years and what do you see happening over the next year.

Kyle 7:46

Yeah, absolutely. So I'm going to bring up a bunch of data here, so bear with me and we can cover anything that we need to. Again, from a start standpoint, if you look at the data on an annual basis, where we are right now is about the same level we were in 2011 and 12 from a percentage start basis. That's been trending down from the highs of around 2015, 2016 in that area. It's not been a precipitous drop, just a steady slowing. And if you kind of look at new construction or new inventory that came online in 15, 16, 17, the talk was oversupply, oversupply. Well, we were really just a few years too early. We actually didn't build enough. If you were to continue our current rate of construction through 2030, and you pair that with the demographic boom and you assume that senior housing is adopted or accepted by the market at the same rate it is now.

Kyle 8:42

So you hold penetration rates constant, which people will debate. But again, we got to make some guesses in the forecast here. If you do that, then the number of units, the gap in supply and demand at the national level is almost 800,000 units by the end of this decade.

Josh 9:04


Kyle 9:04

And to your point earlier about it taking longer to open after you put a shovel in the dirt, we did a white paper recently, it's completely free on our website that talks about the trends of construction in the boom of, you know, the middle 2000 tens, you know, 15, 16, 18 things of that nature. You could start and finish a project in maybe eight months, nine months, and now it's taking almost 11. So not only do we need way more units than are being built, but it's taking considerably longer to build them. And so if the capital markets could open up, I personally, and so I'm stepping away from the NIC MAP Vision forecast. I personally think that we would see a massive rush of existing players in the industry and also outside players come into the space. But as long as those capital markets are tight, getting anything done is not only expensive, but very complex.

Josh 10:01

Yeah. Well, so I'm not even sure the best way to communicate this question, but bear with me, may take a minute. So when you're talking about total volume of units, this is a big number, a big rolled up number, kind of national number, do you see any special segmentation that there's certain size of markets where you see the largest deficits? In other words, is the secondary or tertiary markets suffering in proportionally to the primary markets or vice versa? Do you see any data trends there in construction and supply and demand?

Kyle 10:32

Yeah, great question. I don't have a perfect answer or a direct answer for you. I don't have the data prep, but I'm going to actually have the team look into it.

Josh 10:41

Homework, we got homework! Good thing we're going to hear from you again.

Kyle 10:44

Oh, yeah. What I do have for prepared though tangentially related. So if you look at the primary markets, that's the top 31 metros. And then you look at this, what we call secondary markets, that's metro 32 to 99 and you compare how they're rebounding, basically the secondary markets are rebounding much faster compared to the primary markets. Primarily with majority assisted living and our definition of majority assisted living means assisted living or memory care is the largest makeup of units on the property. It doesn't mean they don't offer IL or skilled or active adult or some other service. It just means the primary service being offered is assisted living and memory care. I think that's being driven by the need component. And also if you look at where construction was going for a long time, we started in the primary markets as an industry and we've kind of moved out.

Kyle 11:37

There's always been folks who have been in those secondary and tertiary areas, but by and large, we're seeing a lot more people kind of come to those newer markets that are having demographic shifts. From your question about supply and demand gap kind of equally distributed across the country, I would assume no, but we'll have to look at the data to really answer that. And the reason I say that is I think we can all think about, you know, our markets back home and maybe the most similar one down the street. Like I'm in Raleigh, North Carolina, it's one of the fastest growing cities in the country, but Fayetteville or Richmond, Virginia, they're also relatively large bases but with different growth rates and things of that nature. So are they going to behave the same? Unlikely, but it's possible.

Josh 12:24

Well, that's something that I've always just as a developer, operator through the years, it's interesting because it seems like most of the development, new construction attention is often in those larger markets with the most dense populations, the highest income level. It's always interesting because I think when people like look at a feasibility study and they see these huge volumes of pen up demand, a lot of times, you know, you might have three or four projects come out of the ground at the exact same time in these larger markets and everybody's thinking, "Oh well there's plenty of pent up demand for all of us." But I think on any given day in the market, let's say you've got a hundred people that are age income qualified in a market, there may be four or five communities that all have open beds on any given day, kind of the way decisions are made, there's typically like a health event or only a certain number of those individuals are actually open to looking or thinking they need that care on any given day.

Josh 13:24

So you're kind of competing. So I'm wondering also in this data trends and occupancy, I'm just sitting here thinking, okay, well 2026 you've got everything starting to hit with the boomer generation, let's say the economy, banking, construction costs, whatever starts fueling more development, more construction, if we all come out of the ground in these markets at the same time, I'm wondering how that also impacts these occupancy numbers because if we just look at the data and not go deeper into the numbers, you know, if we have a huge rush of units coming to the market, we may actually see those occupancy numbers go down, right? And if you thought about it just from a sheer occupancy, you may like, oh, we're going backwards as an industry, but it's really that so much product is coming out in the market at one time. Is that following the right logic?

Kyle 14:11

Yeah, it does, it does. And Atlanta gets picked on a lot for that because the demographics there are just insane. It's one metro, but it feels like 10 cities within one area and that one has always been picked on for being oversupplied or perceived as oversupplied. But I think you highlighted a great point. It comes down to the preferences of your resident and knowing the psychographic and consumer desires of the people you're trying to serve and really knowing your brand. And if where you're going to put this building, this immovable object, if people will come to what you've built, we need to be thoughtful as an industry in terms of not just, you know, can I get land at a good price and get development at a good price, but are the people who ultimately want and need my service, keyword on "want" for psychographics are they actually going to come to where I've built or is the family member that they're moving to be nearby in the wrong spot? Is the commute here to uncomfortable? Is there not enough services or amenities nearby? And we have some data that helps customers with that utilizing kind of profiles to understand your resident. I would say a number of larger operators, you know, 25 communities plus have started doing that, whether they realize that or not by developing strategies internally and things of that nature. But I don't have a broad stroke direction of how to get that right. It's a tough, it's a tough part of the process.

Josh 15:36

Yeah, I would say it's no perfect science by any stretch of the imagination. So I'll tell you, Kyle, one of the things I love talking about with you and your team is not only are you helping us understand data, man, you guys make some really interesting forecast because you've got this, you know, historical data and you kind of know where the demographics are going. You've dropped some things forecasting all the way to like how long supply and demand is going to be tracking and how it's relating to each other, like to 2050, can you give us some long range forecast on supply and demand?

Kyle 16:06

So I'm going to be cautious and I'm going to avoid talking about rate and occupancy in that way because there are so many factors that go into it. But just kind of highlighting the state of our inventory across the country. So not specific to any market. I believe deeply that each market is going to be unique. So Pittsburgh and Raleigh and Houston and Chicago are going to have different nuances, but at large, at a true macro level, we're seeing inventory age much faster as a percentage of total inventory than we did pre-pandemic. So right now, 41% of inventory in primary markets is over 25 years old.

Josh 16:45

Oh my gosh.

Kyle 16:46

Compare that to pre-pandemic. So remember that's just about three and a half years ago, the number was 34%, so a 7% increase over that time. And if you look at the younger side of the age range, zero to two, two to 10, we're seeing not that much new construction, which we kind of knew about.

Kyle 17:05

And then on the maturing, post-stabilization period, it's pretty consistent. There's a little bit of variance, but a lot of stuff is kind of moving up the spectrum and that's not bad. Those buildings can serve residents, they have potential. But a lot of conversations at this NIC at other events have talked about the changing preferences of boomers and is every 25-year-old building going to satisfy a boomer or a new customer? Possibly, possibly not. There's certainly challenges that go with that versus the pretty penny that gets opened up. So that's something for us to think about. I want to bring one other stat about kind of the forecast. And so I clipped this from Eric. He's doing a panel later in the conference. So if you're at conference and you saw the presentation give him a shout out, but if you didn't make it here, here's a little glimpse of what's going on.

Kyle 17:58

This next data point has a big assumption in it. And the big assumption is that our rate of construction now holds constant, which is unlikely given macro changes, but it's the easiest way to kind of think about this. And then the other assumption is that adoption or penetration of senior housing remains constant again, unlikely. As consumer preferences change, if the industry doesn't respond, it'll fluctuate up and down from time to time. But we have to make some broad stroke assumptions here. So this is an oversimplified forecast. Remember when I said from 2020 to 2030, the gap in new construction is almost 800,000 units? Well if we convert those units to dollars and we assume each, each door costs 500k to build the gap from now to 2050 is almost a trillion dollars of investment of what's not getting built. And so from a capital need, from a work output, from new stakeholders entering the industry, like there's huge opportunity. It's not all going to come next year, guys. This is over a 25 year plan, 25 year forecast I should say. And there are some broad as assumptions so you, you can challenge those and I think you should and be thoughtful about it. But this is just kind of a simple look into the future.

Josh 19:13

Well Lucas, I don't know if your head is swimming with data yet, but these are, I mean,

Lucas 19:18

These are big numbers.

Josh 19:19

These are big numbers. I think it spells huge opportunity for every sector of our industry for developers that want to come into our industry for investment capital dollars. And I know, you know, the past couple years we have taken it on the chin multiple times in this industry, but this actually gives me like not only light at the end of the tunnel, but you know, a forecast of our industry has a huge opportunity to meet this demand. And I think a very unique opportunity and it's so awesome to have Kyle, NIC MAP Vision, as our partners. We've talked about this Lucas, we get to sit down, we get like a masterclass on every podcast. And so this is so much great wealth of information.

Lucas 20:01

Yeah. And it's an honor to be able to bring this to the industry and to the Bridge The Gap audience. So Kyle, thank you so much for spending time with us today. Any last thoughts or final remarks?

Kyle 20:11

Looking at now and the actual data that's already been reported on some optimism for you guys. So if you look at the percentage of stabilized properties, so those who have been in business for more than two years or at any point in their lease up hit a minimum occupancy in the nineties, the percentage of properties pre-pandemic that were above 90% was about 56, 55, 56. In the trough of the pandemic, when it was at its absolute worst, that number fell by half to 23%. Now we're at 45. So we've almost, almost doubled, not entirely doubled where we were at the worst of it and we're making our way back to that pre-pandemic number. So I think that that's showing that 45% of inventory in primary markets is at or above 90%. So there are people winning right now in having success and conferences and conversations like this will help us understand how we can take that back home you know, maybe not share the competitive sauce or things of that nature, but have some fun with it. And then in closing, I'd just like to say thank you to you guys for your time and having us on and shout out again to the data collection team at home and also the the NIC Analytics team for helping out.

Lucas 21:24

Yeah, totally. Before we let you go, give us a little bit more details like that. How big is the team? Where are y'all scattered, kind of remotely located or a couple of different areas around the country?

Kyle 21:33

Yeah, we are fully remote. We do have some headquarters, I will say our regional offices maybe, but everyone works from home. We're about 70 team members. Over half of the business is in the engineering and data side. We take that very seriously. I think we have team members in like 15 states or 16 states. So come and find us. We'd love to meet, love to chat with you and have a conversation.

Lucas 21:55

Excellent. Great Kyle, thank you so much. In the bottom of all of our show notes, you'll see NIC MAP Vision there. It's a direct link. You could schedule a demo and see if this information is something that can help you in your daily operations and I would challenge that it does. And then connect with Kyle, he's on LinkedIn and other social platforms. You can connect with them there. And we got a lot of information coming out over the next couple of quarters through 2024 from NIC MAP Vision. Very excited about that, right, Josh?

Josh 22:24

Absolutely excited. And our LinkedIn pages, we're going to be connecting with the NIC MAP Vision team, so engage with NIC MAP Vision, engage with Bridge The Gap on your socials or wherever you find our podcast or information. Such a great opportunity and such a great partnership. Thanks, Kyle for being with us.

Lucas 22:41

Absolutely. And go to btgvoice.com, connect with us there. Listen to this podcast and many more. And thanks for listening to another great episode, Bridge The Gap.

Kyle 22:50

Peace out!

Lucas 22:51



Thanks for listening to Bridge The Gap podcast with Josh and Lucas. Connect with the BTG network team and use your voice to influence the industry by connecting with us at btgvoice.com.

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