WSJ: Bargaining for Deals at Retirement Homes

It’s not uncommon for people to negotiate prices for flea market finds, cars, or even houses, but one area where most people don’t think to bargain is retirement residences—and they should, reports the Wall Street Journal.

Especially at continuing care retirement communities (CCRCs)—most of which charge entrance fees—incoming residents could save a bundle, like a Pennsylvania woman who was able to shave 35% off her upfront costs of moving into one such community.

Dickering can pay off. “Active adult” developments often charge steep monthly fees for amenities, and CCRCs generally require a hefty deposit, along with monthly fees for care ranging from independent living to round-the-clock nursing.


The average entrance fee for a CCRC unit is $259,000, according to the National Investment Center for the Seniors Housing and Care Industry, a research and data group in Annapolis, Md.

But the real-estate downturn, which made it tougher for older adults to unload their houses, in turn wiped out waiting lists at many popular retirement communities, giving retirees who are ready to move in more leverage, experts say.

Such communities need to stay full to fund their general operations, build reserves and help finance refunds. The community where Mrs. Nerenberg plans to move, for example, refunds 90% of the entry deposit after the resident dies. And monthly fees paid by residents in independent-living units generally help support the higher costs of those who have moved to assisted-living or skilled-nursing arrangements.


Haggling prices for retirement homes is a trend that’s still “in its early stages,” but some financial planners are helping their clients evaluate their retirement living options and costs. 

Read the full Wall Street Journal article

Written by Alyssa Gerace