Ventas Seeing “Robust Demand” for Senior Housing, CEO Says

Debra Cafaro, chairman and CEO of Ventas, Inc. (NYSE: VTR), participated in a video interview in conjunction with Nareit’s REITweek: 2021 Investor Conference.

Cafaro said Ventas has weathered the pandemic in a “strong and stable condition.” She added that the REIT has “turned the corner in the businesses that were most effected by COVID, and those that have remained strong during the pandemic are continuing to rally in a very positive way.”

Turning to senior housing, Cafaro pointed to “incredible evidence of resilience and robust demand from seniors and their families.” April 2021 move-ins were at their highest level since June 2019, she noted.

“We are in an incredibly good spot as you look forward because the supply/demand fundamentals are really going in our favor. We see the 80-plus population growing by 2 million individuals over the next couple of years and construction starts in senior living are down almost 80% from where they were at the peak…that augers very well for the coming years,” Cafaro said.

Meanwhile, life science real estate is set to remain an active area of focus for Ventas. Cafaro noted that the company has gone from zero exposure to over 9 million square feet in a very short time. Assets are growing organically, and Ventas continues to add to its footprint, she said. The REIT currently has a presence on the campuses of over 15 research universities and in three of the top five life science cluster markets. Fund flows into research and innovation continue to grow at record levels, which is powering tenant demand for lab space, she noted.

Cafaro, a co-chair of the Nareit Dividends Through Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Council, also said she envisions the initiative taking on the “pernicious, pervasive, and persistent” issue of race, with the goal of ensuring that the REIT industry is inclusive and welcoming.