Headwinds such as overdevelopment and higher staffing and service costs caused the average price per unit in assisted living communities to fall 16% to $186,400 in 2018, according to a new report.

Independent living, on the other hand, saw a 3% increase in the average price paid per unit, to $238,100, according to The Seniors Housing Acquisition & Investment Report. A record high of $246,800 per unit was observed in 2014, but the 2018 level still is the second-highest average ever, publisher Irving Levin Associates said.

“Because of its fewer staffing and services needs, the independent living market largely avoided many of the headwinds facing the assisted living market,” said Stephen Monroe of Irving Levin. Development also has been moderate in independent living compared with assisted living.

Overall, the average senior living (including independent and assisted living) community price per unit decreased by 9% year-over-year to $203,400 per unit in 2018, brought down by assisted living. The number still is the fourth-highest per-unit price ever recorded, Irving Levin said, but the median fell by 30% to $150,300 per unit, suggesting older, less occupied or operationally struggling communities.

Despite the lower prices, merger and acquisition deals reached an unprecedented level in senior living and care, although spending was not as high as in recent years, according to Irving Levin.

Deals totaled 426 in 2018, with approximately half of them in independent or assisted living, the report noted. The 2018 total is approximately 100 more than in 2017 and more than 60 more than the previous record of 365 set in 2015.

Spending totaled $13.6 billion in 2018, down from $15.9 billion in 2017 and $25.6 billion in 2014, which was the record high, Irving Levin said.