New York City-based New Senior Investment Group reported Tuesday that although occupancy continued to decline in the first quarter, monthly occupancy trends have improved significantly.

In an company update released by the real estate investment trust, executives note that March’s occupancy decline is expected to be the lowest since the start of the pandemic. Occupancy is expected to decline between 10 basis points (0.1%) and 20 basis points (0.2%) in March, an improvement from the 80 basis points (0.8%) and 60 basis points (0.6%) in January and February, respectively.

In addition, move-ins increased sequentially in February and March following strong lead growth in the quarter. In fact, March leads were up 113% since the firm’s low in April 2020, and March move-in volume had recovered to pre-COVID levels.

The firm also reported that as of April 1, it had successfully completed the previously announced transition of 21 communities from Holiday Retirement to Atria Senior Living, representing a significant step in New Senior’s ongoing effort to improve operator diversification and alignment.

Despite the challenges presented by the pandemic, senior housing fundamentals remain compelling, the firm’s executives said. 

“Aging population and demographic trends have been unabated by the pandemic, and are expected to drive demand for decades to come,” the firm noted in its presentation.

Further, New Senior noted that the sector has been experiencing favorable supply dynamics as new construction starts and deliveries are slowing considerably. “We continue to believe that our independent living portfolio is well positioned to benefit from the senior housing recovery,” the REIT said.