Website lifts lid on village fees

A Victorian lawyer hopes to encourage greater transparency in retirement village contracts and fees through a recently-launched comparison website.

Founder and Managing Director of CompareVillages.com.au, Jessica Kinnear, blames confusing documentation for creating some of the misunderstandings about the retirement village sector.

“The retirement living industry in Australia is currently going through a challenging time, with much of the negative public perception stemming from insufficient transparency, misconceptions and complexity, particularly around fees,” said Ms Kinnear.

“We recognised that the large number of older Australians who were considering moving into a retirement village didn’t know where to start the process or how to adequately compare retirement living accommodation.

“Essentially people had no way to easily compare what is a complex product and this has led to a lot of confusion and complaints about the industry.”

CompareVillages.com.au details the different types of agreements available from operators, which can vary from state to state, as each jurisdiction has its own regulations for the sector.

Jessica Kinnear

Ms Kinnear told YourLifeChoices that the website is independent, but village operators do pay a fee when an enquiry is made on a listed property.

At the time of writing, there were just 118 village units listed – mostly in NSW and Queensland – but Ms Kinnear said that, in coming weeks, she expects hundreds more to be added.

Among the operators represented on the site are large operators such as Lendlease, Aveo and RetireAustralia, as well as small to medium-sized villages run by Lifestyle Communities, Regis, Japara, Greengate, and The Village Retirement Group.

According to CompareVillages.com.au, visitors to the free site will be able to:

  •  compare retirement living fees (from entry fees, ongoing fees and departure fees), as well as lifestyle features such as village facilities and access to services
  • enquire directly to the village operator for more information or to request a property inspection or village tour
  • calculate a departure entitlement, which gives users an estimate of what they could expect to receive when they leave a village.

Before launching the site, Ms Kinnear was an in-house lawyer at Lendlease. Prior to that she was employed by law firm Russell Kennedy to offer legal advice to retirement village operators and prospective purchasers of units, although not at the same time.

Would you be more inclined to buy into a retirement village if you could compare several of them? Have you had problems understanding village contracts?

Written by Olga Galacho

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