The Next Real Estate Frontier: Wellness

Wellness real estate is here to stay.

  • Buildings certified under the WELL standard crossed the 1B-square-foot mark in 2021, up 4x from 250M square feet in 2018.
  • In LA County, homes over $5M with the word “wellness” have a 72% price premium over otherwise similar listings.

Steel, glass, and well-being. Encompassing homes, multi-family condos, and living communities, wellness real estate blends architecture and design to support holistic health.

Amenities include biophilic design for improved cognitive function, circadian lighting for optimized sleep cycles, and high-end filtration technology for premium air quality.

Not just a fad. Globally, wellness real estate is a $134B industry, growing 6.4% per year since 2015. And while healthy living was a hot trend before 2020, post-COVID health concerns have made it a mainstay.

According to a national survey, over 50% of renters/homeowners would pay extra for touchless building entry or germ-resistant countertops.

Plus, as more employees go remote, network effects around work and capital will weaken, leaving real estate primed to step in as the new center of community and connection.

Developers everywhere are betting big:

  • Lake Nona in Orlando serves a wellness-forward community of 17,000, complete with clusters of top-tier medical services and training facilities around wellness-infused homes.
  • Legacy Hotel & Residences is constructing a $60M pandemic-proof wellness hotel equipped with a 100,000-square-foot medical center.
  • In 2021, Be DTLA became the first apartment building in Southern California to attain the WELL Health-Safety seal.

But… the WELL seal, launched by for-profit company IWBI, has undergone criticism. Buildings applying must pay up first—with fees as high as $98,000—and experts have noted that certification hinges upon written health policies, neglecting actual on-site practices.

Punchline: In the past, wellness real estate had catered to the ultra-rich, but the pandemic increased the market for healthier living, accelerating access to options.

Not all wellness claims, however, hold up to expert scrutiny. Challenges aside, this movement is unlikely to reverse.

Next up, wellness tourism wants to punch your ticket.

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