Opinion — THE BIG PICTURE: A flat market has its benefits

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New York Times Columnist Thomas Friedman helps demystify globalization's full impact in his most recent book, The World is Flat.

He's not saying that the Flat Earth Society has it right. Rather, he's pointing out that a flattening process is taking place: one that will require adjustments by countries, companies, communities and individuals interested in future success.
Friedman notes that cheap, ubiquitous telecommunications have obliterated impediments to international competition. He adds that the resulting scenario is one that empowers rugged, adaptable entrepreneurs.
This flattening effect is beginning to be seen in our sector, albeit in a modified way. While mergers and acquisitions are hardly new, the breadth and depth of underlying knowledge fueling them is. Feel free to blame or credit the National Investment Center for the Seniors Housing & Care Industry for spreading the knowledge wealth.
To get a better sense of how the game is changing, please take a few moments to peruse the Dealmaker's Handbook, which accompanies this month's issue. As even the most cursory glance reveals, smarter capital is coming into this market. Armed with new tools and hard-earned lessons, operators and lenders have a better grasp of market realities, and they are leveraging that knowledge to reinvent housing and care for America's seniors.
Certainly you'll want to read about how the NIC's MAP project is unearthing new data in the nation's top metro markets.
Operators and lenders also will benefit from a "Lessons learned" spread that offers insight from each camp.
If you want to get an up-close look at how market changes are playing out, be sure to see "We'll buy ugly homes" and "Strange bedfellows." Think all facilities are more or less the same? You won't after seeing "Bland on the run."
But perhaps the most provocative piece is "The road ahead." NIC President Bob Kramer and Research Director Tony Mullen jointly authored this story, and it's full of useful nuggets. These include reasons why many nursing homes may become smaller and more residentially oriented, and why chains may target post-acute care more aggressively.
What's driving these and other changes? More than one factor. Certainly, the interplay of evolution and revolution is evident. Operators are adapting and embracing new opportunities. But at least as important is the flowering of new knowledge.
The result is that players are getting smarter, the product is improving and the sector is doing a better job of serving an aging nation.
Those are pretty good outcomes, especially for a flat market.

John O'Connor, vice president, McKnight's Long-Term Care News
john.oconnor@mltcn.com