“Retirement Housing Review – Churchill Retirement Living”

I started this thread about retirement housing when I wrote a post a few weeks ago on a very upmarket scheme in London.    Following that I wrote about the key issues that are driving the future of this market (you can see my earlier posts by clicking on “Retirement Housing” in the Topics list).

This is my third in-depth look at one of the major providers in the retirement housing sector:-

Churchill Retirement Living

This organisation is literally the son of McCarthy and Stone.    It was set up in 1994 by Spencer and Clinton McCarthy – the sons of John McCarthy.    It is still a private company run by the McCarthy family.  Their product has not changed substantially in the last 40 years – it is still essentially sheltered housing for sale.  They have not moved into providing an assisted living option.

The website is fairly good but it has a number of omissions which makes comparison with other providers difficult.   Here are some of the key facts drawn from their website:-

  • They operate schemes mainly in the South of England, although they have moved into the Midlands and towards the North West.  They have a highly focused product with standard one and two bedroom flat types in schemes of between 25 and 50 units.
  • Communal facilities are minimal with only a small communal lounge and a guest suite.
  • Individual properties are based on the footprints of one and two bedroom flats.   They seem quite small, although there’s no reference to the overall size.    The flats are generally narrow frontage which mean all the main rooms are deep and narrow.   If there are balconies at all, they are Juliette type with no outside space.    Kitchens are also small and wet rooms are provided with showers rather than bathrooms.
  • Purchase prices obviously vary with location.    Here are some examples:
    • Hampshire          – one bed          £191,950
    •                                – two bed          £318,950
    • Warwickshire      – one bed          £228,950
    •                                – two bed          £348,950
    • Dorset                   – one bed          £246,950
    •                 Surrey                   – one bed          £255,950

There is no charge on exit which presumably means service charges are higher to cover long-term maintenance cost.     If you wish to sub-let there is a charge of 1% of market value which seems high and difficult to justify.

  • They seem coy about service charges and no figures are provided on the website.    This is a strange stance to take because with their “no frills product” you would assume their charges are lower than their competitors.     There is also no charge for car parking, probably because they provide a minimal number of spaces on site (12 for 25 units on one site I looked at).  Their design standard is to provide 1 car for every 3 residents, which is not going to be adequate for a baby boomer future.
  • Domiciliary care and support is not included on any of their sites, although there is a concierge.    They provide a helpful location map showing the nearest medical centres / libraries / supermarkets etc.

Overall, these schemes are what they are.    Basic, no frills, sheltered housing.   They obviously produce schemes that are well-regarded and sell successfully.   So you could say why change a winning formula?

I would say it’s rather disappointing that with all their experience they have not developed the retirement housing model any further, although to be fair many other providers are in a similar position.


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9 Responses to “Retirement Housing Review – Churchill Retirement Living”

  1. As said, from the blog-rather disappointing: I must go on the web site and read a little more in depth, and form my own opinions, but the cut of the Jib does not sound to enlightening.

  2. davidwfreeman237 says:

    I will ‘huff and puff’ and blow the house down: And I will go to the foot of our stairs, and see if all my chairs are at home!
    For those retired thinking about it, and downsizing, some of the market leaders in retirement homes, do not appear to have a ”vision”, of what is possible with a reasonable return both to the dweller/resident and the capitalist who may wish a return of his /her investment. We must all look at the bottom line that is life! However we should all shoulder and look at the positives of a mixed
    socially mixed community, thorough integrated, living as a ”VILLAGE” not as social ‘Ghetto’s ‘ through prejudices.
    A few more visionaries in the retirement sector are required, which includes private and public funding, and with some form of actual” free areas” where interaction and free movement of residents can take place, and again with some form of support for health, remembering we all grow old get dementia and have a few falls and mishaps about the village: But enthusiastically take part in many of the cerebral and activities and crafts that can take place within a village and encourage ones friends and family of the village residents to also join in, and make the village vibrant and living.
    That’s my goal! What is yours? Answers on a post card please.
    As the old saying goes, you are only as old as the mind can image and that the body will allow, but do not drown the soul or spirit of the body with derogatory thoughts! Be positive please!

  3. May says:

    No exit charge? What about 1% for permission to resell the apartment?
    A Rose By Any Other Name

    • john graham says:

      Thanks for this feedback. I did mention they have a reletting charge of 1%. Which I think is high. The resales charge is another example of hidden charges that have little justification. You should ask them what they do for the charge.

  4. J J says:

    Churchill retirement living are a shameful organisation. They pray on vulnerable people. Offer all sorts of things then withdraw their offers at the last minute.

  5. Johnp says:

    May I add something about the escalating ground rent in the lease that I am reading for a shelterd home. In adition to the 1% exit charge ( and it applies if you are unable to look after yourself too) and normal service charges to cover the actual outgoings which includes a profit to the managing agents that I would expect to find in any residential lease ( the service charge that is and not the exit fee), I have found a ground rent of over £500 p.a that is reviewed every 7 years upward. Also the fact the lease is about 5 years shorter than expected for no expilcable reason? A ground rent is simply an extra profit for a developer that encorages the freehold to be sold off ata profit too. I fear profiteering. Shame they do not allow the residents to self- manage through their chosen managing agents too if this was about what was best for the owners.
    Sorry but I am not impressed by the model. I think a modest life on a cruise ship or an hotel might be more value for money for the same period

  6. Lee Vincent says:

    Churchill are bad news.
    Values plummet once bought. Service charges are prohibitive .

    • Old Timer says:

      Don’t buy new, check for resales first, you will get a much better deal. If you do buy, be prepared for ever increasing maintenance costs. Take a copy of the lease and read it through with expert advice to make sure you understand all the small print.

    • BJ. says:

      How true that is. Take the situation at St Richard Lodge in Chichester. 10 apartments have been resold, the difference between purchase price and sale price was a £471,000 loss. That’s an average of £47,000.00 loss per apartment. (According to the report from lease hold knowledge web site) Even at nearby Tamarisk Lodge there is still one new apartment unsold but a far better deal can be had by buying one of the five or six that are up for resale.

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