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For Wellness Real Estate, the Moment Has Arrived

Among the property sectors that saw their fortunes rise during the pandemic was, fittingly enough, wellness real estate. Even prior to the rise of COVID-19, though, the market surged, while the events of the past 18 months have ramped up demand further, according to the nonprofit Global Wellness Institute (GWI). 

From 2017-2020, the global market grew 22% on average annually, expanding from $148 billion in 2017 to $225 billion in 2019 to $275 billion in 2020. Wellness residential projects skyrocketed in those three years, from 740 in 2017 to more than 2,300 today. From 2019-2020, wellness real estate continued to grow by over 22%, even as overall construction shrank by -2.5%. 

“Just three years ago, wellness real estate was a concept not well understood by consumers, builders, developers or investors, but we predicted demand would soon hit like a tsunami,” said Ophelia Yeung, GWI senior research fellow. “That moment has arrived. The pandemic has driven the idea of ‘building for human health’ into the mainstream consumer consciousness, and the recent market growth far exceeded our predictions, as well as general economic growth trends.” 

The GWI defines wellness real estate as the construction of residential and commercial/institutional properties (including office, hospital, mixed-use/multifamily, medical and leisure) that incorporate intentional wellness elements in their design, materials and building, as well as their amenities, services and/or programming. Increasingly, these concepts are being incorporated across the board, especially in residential. 

Wellness living concepts are being developed in all types of residential projects, according to the GWI. These include master-planned communities; multifamily projects (apartments, condominiums); urban districts and mixed-use projects; resort/spa/hospitality-based wellness real estate; affordable/subsidized housing; and other wellness concepts based on eco-communities, co-living, senior living, and more—taking an increasingly dizzying number of “wellness angles.” 

“So many macro forces—our fast-aging world, our stress and loneliness crises, the rise of remote work, a consumer demanding more sustainable living—means the growth trajectory for wellness homes and building design will only rise,” said Katherine Johnston, GWI senior research fellow. “But COVID-19 forced us to see our homes and built environment in a radically new light, as the protectors and enablers of our very health and well-being. Wellness real estate is now quickly moving from elective to essential.” 

Wellness real estate is heavily concentrated in North America, Asia-Pacific and Europe, and each market clocked exponential recent growth, with the North American and Asian markets essentially doubling from 2017-2020, the GWI says in a new report. Although North America’s wellness real estate market is largest at $118.5 billion, Asia-Pacific’s has been the fastest-growing, accelerating 27% between 2019 and 2020. 


Inside The Story

Global Wellness Institute

About Paul Bubny

Paul Bubny serves as Senior Content Director for Connect Commercial Real Estate, a role to which he brings 13-plus years’ experience covering the commercial real estate industry and 30-plus years in business-to-business journalism. In this capacity, he oversees daily operations while also reporting on both local/regional markets and national trends, covering individual transactions across all property types, as well as delving into broader subject matter. He produces 15-20 daily news stories per day and works with the Connect team and clients to develop longer-form content, ranging from Q&As to thought-leadership pieces. Prior to joining Connect, Paul was Managing Editor for both Real Estate Forum and at American Lawyer Media, where he oversaw operations at both publications while also producing daily news and feature-length articles. His tenure in B2B publishing stretches back into the print era, and he has served as Editor in Chief on four national trade publications. Since 1999, Paul has volunteered as the newsletter editor of passenger rail advocacy groups (one national, one local).

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