Michael Hargrave, Vice President, NIC MAP

Occupancy in the assisted living and independent living sectors has leveled off in the past year after steadily declining since the early part of 2007, according to a soon-to-be-released report from the National Investment Centers for the Seniors Housing & Care Industry.

As of the second quarter of 2010, occupancy crept up slightly to 87.7%, according to Michael Hargrave, vice president of the NIC Market Area Profiles (MAP) service, which will unveil the report next month. Demand is growing at a rate of 7,000 units annually, he told reporters at the NIC annual conference last week in Chicago.

“A demand-level recovery is exactly what the sector needs,” Hargrave said.

Hargrave noted that rent growth has plummeted to 0.7%, but it has not gone negative as it has in other commercial sectors.

Also to be released from NIC next month is a guide for investors and potential investors about the seniors housing and care industry. The “NIC Investment Guide 2010: Investing in Seniors Housing &  Care Properties” provides an introduction to the investment characteristics and performance of the sector, as well as the leading industry players.