The number of publicly announced senior housing and care acquisitions in the fourth quarter indicate that the sector is rebounding from the pandemic economy, based on new acquisition data released Wednesday by LevinPro LTC.

“Despite the challenges stemming from staffing shortages, vaccine mandates and persistently low census across the country, investor interest peaked in the senior care M&A market in the fourth quarter,” Ben Swett said. 

Acquisitions rose to 129 deals, which represents an 18% increase from the 109 transactions in the previous quarter and 1.6% higher than the 127 deals made public in the fourth quarter of 2020. Mergers and acquisitions were at a record high deal total for any quarter, according to the data. 

There were 102 long-term care transactions involving almost 19,401 units, with 26 skilled nursing deals combining for around 8,772 beds. Welltower’s acquisition of The Fountains Portfolio, which was formerly owned by NorthStar Healthcare Income, included a combination of eight rental retirement communities and six entrance fee continuing care retirement communities that totaled around 3,637 beds / units. 

Less money was spent on mergers and acquisitions in the fourth quarter compared with the previous quarter, however. Investors spent $3.6 billion on the fourth-quarter transactions, based on disclosed prices, which is a 32% drop from the previous quarter’s total of $5.3 billion. 

Assisted living accounted for 56% of the announced senior housing and care deals last quarter, followed by active adult deals, at 19%, independent living, at 13%, affordable senior apartments, at 9% and CCRCs, at 4%.

“The skilled nursing market still faces major problems, not helped by some unfair media attention,” Swett said, “but there are a multitude of buyers in search of yield willing to invest in SNFs that have pushed bids higher and higher.”