1. The first step in buying a church is to contact an agent experienced in this specialized segment of commercial real estate. Atlanta Church Lady is the best place to start!
2. Every seller of a church wants to know if you have any idea how you are going to pay for the property so the second step is to speak with a lender who finances churches. There are a number of banks and mortgage brokers who are ready to help. You will need to gather financial information about your church and get a list of documents and other criteria which a lender requires.
3. The third step, armed with information about how much you can afford to pay for a church, is to go out and look at property with your agent.
4. When you find the one that works, you make a commercial offer for the property and your agent negotiates an agreement which the lender can work on to fund your purchase. The process takes about 60 days from start to finish and can include an appraisal, an inspection, title search, and underwriting for the loan.
The more you prepare up front, the easier and more seamless the process should be. Before you know it, your congregation will be established in a new space and ready for the growth which owning a church will bring.
...specializing in churches and religious property
Selling your religious property can be a long drawn out process depending on the market where you live. The value of your property, too, can be surprising when you have it appraised and discover that the market value can be half the appraised value. A property is worth what someone is willing to pay at a given moment in time. And because church financing is so very difficult right now, what you will receive for your property depends on the quality of the buyer who is interested in purchasing it.
Buying a church or religious property is not the same as buying or selling a house or a general commercial building. The financing is different, the evaluation of the numbers is different, the people involved are different. Yes, there are agents and lenders and attorneys, appraisers and inspectors and surveyors, but a church has a different set of criteria than other commercial properties.
Most commercial properties can benefit from financing that includes government down payment assistance in the form of an SBA loan which can provide the down payment for an owner occupant. Unfortunately SBA does not make non-profit loans. So the congregation interested in your property has to have a lot of money saved up, a gift from you for the down payment, or a second mortgage from you or someone else if the first mortgage holder will allow one.
If you want to sell your property there are some things you can do to hasten the process.
1. Contact a listing agent who specializes in churches. Atlanta Church Lady is a great place to start!
2. Have the property surveyed, appraised and inspected so you can see what kind of deferred maintenance you have accrued. You can make some decisions about making repairs or discount the list price to accommodate the buyer making the repairs.
3. Get up to date information about your mortgage payoff if you have one.
4. List the property and make it as easy as possible for your agent to show it.
5. Negotiate offers that are the best combination of financing, history and "gut feeling."
6. Pray through the due diligence period and financing underwriting.
7. Close and move on to the next phase of your ministry in your community!