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David Ammons

David Ammons is president of Retirement Living Associates, Inc. (RLA), a company which provides planning, development, marketing, and management services for new and existing retirement communities. He has worked in and with Senior Living Communities since his graduation from Wake Forest University in 1985. Contact David Ammons at david@rlainc.com or 919-783-0044 ext 21.

Waiting List – Priority List – Reservation List – Etc. – Should I (We) or What does it Mean?

Even after over 37 years in the retirement community industry, I still get caught by surprise by a particular community’s process for their Waiting List. I will share what I know or believe I know, but let me be very clear at the beginning of this article that you need to be sure to ask enough questions with a community you are talking to in order to fully understand their “_________ List.”

In some cases “Waiting” means these folks are waiting and are likely to accept a unit when one is available. In other cases the list might ought to be viewed more as “Priority” list, because many on the list have no plan to move in the near future but wanted to be on the list to gain a priority position. I believe this is a smart move as many retirement communities have occupancies in the 95% and higher range and a plan to simply shop, select, and move when you are ready can be dramatically changed or converted into a “we are ready now we can only move where they have space”.

Prices to join a waiting list or priority list can vary widely from a few hundred dollars to more than $10,000 dollars. How that money is treated if you are offered a unit and do not accept it varies, and how your name retains priority on the list varies also if you do not accept a unit when offered. Usually your deposit remains in tact if you “pass” on an offered unit, but a potential resident really needs to confirm and understand how that works. Secondly, generally you may retain your place in line, but again be certain you understand the process as you may move to the bottom of a list after one offer or multiple offers and then may lose the priority you were hoping to claim.

Above all, I believe there are not necessarily good ways or bad ways for communities to handle their list, but more importantly it is very important for a consumer to be fully informed and have full understanding of the process.

During an expansion or new development, a community will often have a Reservation or Depositor List. Depending on the type of community this varies widely also. For example in a new Continuing Care Retirement Community, there are rules and statutes that mandate that a certain number of units are reserved via a minimum deposit towards a future home in a community.

Now for my Sales Pitch. Please investigate your preferred community(ies) and please be certain to understand their process. Over the years I have seen friends of the community like family members be very involved while a loved one is at a community and then when they are ready to move they learn there might be a wait to get a unit or even a long wait for a particular type of unit.