The challenges of comparing the cost of retirement villages will get much easier with today’s launch of Macquarie University’s retirement village calculator, the first of its kind in Australia.
The free calculator, available at www.rvcalculator.org takes the complex range of fees (entry fee, ongoing fee, exit fee) and calculates a simple ‘equivalent monthly rent’ for the years of residence, simplifying an often-complex fee structure and helping consumers to easily compare the costs of different retirement villages.
Dr Tim Kyng from Macquarie University developed the retirement village comparison calculator after a frustrating experience when endeavouring to assist his mother in choosing between retirement villages, identifying a genuine need to highlight to consumers the size of the cost differences when comparing villages.
“It is important that consumers are able to compare the cost of retirement housing, as well as the facilities and the social environment. To help comparison shopping, consumers should be able to get key cost information in clear language, when they are first looking around. Some retirement villages are withholding key cost information or only giving it in complex documents.
“As an expert in complex financial products, I didn’t expect to struggle to analyse retirement village contracts. I found great variation in the entry fees, ongoing fees and particularly the “deferred management fees” or exit fees across the retirement village industry,” said Dr Kyng.
Users of the calculator will need to input the retirement village’s ingoing fee, ongoing fee and outgoing fee as well as information regarding the sharing of profits or losses on the resale of their apartment. The calculator then analyses this data to provide the user with an easily digestible comparison rent per month.
When comparing two retirement villages in Sydney with an entry fees of $775,000 (village A) and $750,000 (village B) the village with the lower entry fee and lower monthly fee might look cheaper, however a consumer may be shocked to discover it is costing them an extra $1,100 a month over the course of seven years.
“Most retirement village contracts are very complex arrangements. Many consumers think it is like buying your own apartment. It usually isn’t, and you don’t own it. Residents only have the right to live there until they become too sick, voluntarily relocate, or die.
“It is difficult and time-consuming to get the details of how the contracts work and even more difficult to compare one with the other. In fact, some operators in NSW demand a $1,000 deposit for the privilege of looking at a contract. They will give you the money back if you decide not to proceed, but it really inhibits comparison shopping.”
Dr Kyng launched the retirement villages calculator at the Macquarie University Lighthouse Series today.