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Redfin's best cities for technology-assisted living -- you can't make this up

You would have to read this to believe.  RANT ON.  It pains me to actually link to the original article, because that was, of course, this real estate company’s goal – so this link is to the link that has the link.  Nela Richardson, the first chief economist with hot real estate website Redfin, has announced that cities with Uber, Rover, Porch, Instacart and CareLinx provide the most economical and 'tech-enabled' alternatives to assisted living.  How’d that get calculated, you might ask? Seniors or their caregivers "would have at least $1,500 each month to spend [after accounting for the mortgage] on the cost of services booked through Uber, Rover, Porch, Instacart and Carelinx versus the $5,933 it would take to live in an assisted living facility."

So let’s mull the list of services over before we contemplate the cities.  Consider the aging population in these towns benefiting from all this great technology-enabled assistance. That’s a ride service hailed by a smartphone app or on the most expensive Internet plan in the country (DC), a dog-sitting service, a remodeling/home project service, a grocery delivery service, and a search site for non-agency home care workers. Nice list if you (or the caregiver) has a smartphone to hail a ride, owns a dog that needs walking, has someone to cook the delivered groceries, or perhaps one has hired a home care worker to do the cooking -- and home remodeling plans are, let's say, modest.

Let’s do a quick comparison with assisted living services. Pick by location - how about Sunrise on Connecticut Avenue in Washington, DC, which is Redfin’s number one technology-assisted living city? The Sunrise site asserts that it has: "Trained staff available 24-hours a day; daily physical fitness, creative, social, learning and spiritual activities, scheduled group trips and resident-sponsored clubs for a variety of interests; up to three delicious, well-balanced meals served daily featuring a variety of menu choices with snacks available throughout the day; monthly wellness visits by a licensed on-staff nurse; Weekly housekeeping and daily trash removal; weekly personal laundry; social and educational programs for families; scheduled resident and family meetings; accommodations with a variety of floor plans; maintenance of building and grounds; licensed nursing staff available 24 hours a day." Whatever one thinks about this list, is living there REALLY the equivalent of having Uber, Rover, Porch, Instacart and CareLinx?

So back to Redfin’s silliness.  Buried in this was another interesting phrase, $1500 for these services was "after accounting for the mortgage."  So let’s stay with Washington, DC for another minute. The median house price sold in July in Washington was $550,000. With zero down (not likely), that’s a monthly mortgage payment of $2600. And do not dwell on other items,  like property taxes averaging $2700 per year, homeowners insurance, heating/cooling costs, price of broadband to the home to take advantage of some of these services, and the maintenance required that may not fit into a handyman’s tiny portion of $1500 per month. So does Redfin's chief economist get this? This is not to say that all want or can move to assisted living, nor should they. And let's not even focus on assisted living's average age, 83, of resident move-ins, half with some degree of dementia --  and those are the residents living outside of the locked memory care units. Which of the residents-to-be would rationalize the service tradeoffs in that decision based on the availability of a dog walker, a ride service, or a handyman? Oh right, THAT equation came from an economist. RANT OFF.


Your rant is reasonable. Redfin appears to be coat-tailing on a hot PR topic of late: notably, the surprise (gasp) that older adults use these general market apps in their daily living. A consumer needs-based segmentation analysis might have mitigated the surprise, however it's doubtful that the app developers even ever considered anyone over 45 for their use to begin with. Similarly Redfin is lumping every ager over 65 into one homogeneous sect rather than understanding the complexity of such a gigantic population. It's assisted living or else, baby, no matter your demographic or psychographic dynamic! That is why so many marketers, communicators, manufacturers and designers fail with mature audiences- using a one-size fits all strategy.

The tax estimate appears unrealistic/low as well. But it is DC, budgets aren't the strong suit for the District anyway.


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