A church looking to buy or sell a property will experience the real estate process very differently than average homeowners and businesses. Churches need to be prepared and know what to expect. So, what does a church need to get started in real estate?
Know Where You’ve Been and Where You’re Going
“Where have you been? Where are you at? Where are you going?” These are the three questions we ask every church. Knowing a church’s history gives us a baseline of trends regarding your church, like growth, where members are residing, and who the church is hoping to reach. Is a church looking to reach a different neighborhood? Are they or were they meeting in a school? The answers to these questions let us know how the property is involved in meeting the church’s goal (because it almost always is).
Figure Out Who Your Partners are
We run into churches time and time again who believe they can acquire or sell a property with little or no help. While churches are the experts in running a ministry, they aren’t experts in real estate (and they shouldn’t have to be). Churches need to work with:
- Professional real estate professionals
- Attorneys (if possible)
We understand the temptation to hire a real estate agent in your church, and if they happen to be experts in ministry realty, great! But often, they’re not. You’re probably wondering why you need a consultant, but we can’t stress enough how vital it is to have coaches and ministry professionals speaking into your goals regarding real estate. Churches don’t just buy or sell buildings – they’re expanding God’s kingdom. A ministry consultant who doesn’t attend your church will be able to assess any flaws you don’t see in your plan. And if you can work with a real estate attorney too, even better! Churches are especially vulnerable to bad leases and bad zoning. They often find themselves in over their heads when they attempt to do it all themselves.
Talk to Your Church
Plan to talk to your congregation and pray about when to do that. There is such a thing as talking to your congregation too soon or too late. The first thing step we recommend taking is praying with your congregation about the property you want to sell or buy. Find out how involved your congregation wants to be in communication. Small churches typically need a lot more communication and “town hall” meetings.
If you believe you’re ready for the next step in real estate, make it a point to determine it through data. Think about budget, average giving, influence in your community, and influence in your own church. For example, many churches plan to raise funds through a campaign. They’re confused when the campaign doesn’t go as well as planned. The leadership didn’t realize their big goals didn’t align with their congregation who had already mentally checked out. This is why working with a consultant is important.
There’s a lot involved for a church searching for or selling property. It can feel overwhelming. At Ministry Realty, we’re not just real estate agents. We act as ministry consultants (with ministry experience to back it up) and help you get connected to professionals you need, like lenders or attorneys. We truly want to see you expand God’s kingdom. Talk to us today.