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Buy or Rent? Making the Right Choice for Church Real Estate

A father standing inside the church and behind him is a cross and a candle above the table

One of the most crucial decisions that every church needs to make is whether to rent or to buy its own real estate property.

If you are in this situation as your church grows or enters a new chapter in its journey, read on. Church Building Consultants Realty will break down the pros and cons of each option.

Buying your own church building

  1. PRO: Complete control over the property

    When you own property, you can use it and design it according to your preferences and vision. You can tailor-fit your church building according to the needs of your congregation without having to worry about regulations and restrictions imposed by a landlord or external property owner.

  2. PRO: Equity

    Buying a church building means investing long-term in an asset that will more than likely increase in value over the years. As you pay off the mortgage for your church property, your church earns more equity.

  3. PRO: Greater sense of prestige and distinction

    Owning property on which to build your church can be an intangible but significant source of pride and prestige for your leadership and members. It lends an air of accomplishment and stability that can inspire your congregation for years to come.

  4. CON: Greater capital required

    To purchase real estate, your church must have the financial resources to afford it. From making sure that your ministry has enough savings to qualify for a good mortgage, to planning effective fundraising activities, you will have a lot of work cut out for you.

  5. CON: Long-term maintenance responsibilities

    Owning church property also requires financial planning for the long-term. In addition to the upfront costs of the purchase, you must also be prepared for recurring expenses like cleaning, repairs, and other maintenance needs.

Renting real estate for your church

  1. PRO: Less capital required upfront

    Compared to buying property, choosing to rent will require a smaller amount of money to start with. Instead of a substantial down payment and other closing costs, you only need to prepare relatively smaller amounts for your preliminary deposits and rent.

  2. PRO: More relaxed maintenance obligations

    In some cases, renting a space also affords your church additional savings in terms of maintenance costs. Regular general upkeep can be covered by the monthly dues that you pay to the property owner, while they take care of the actual work.

  3. PRO: Limited commitment

    Many property leases last a period of just one to two years, so you can easily move to another location for whatever reason that things do not work out in your original choice. Not renewing your lease is a much simpler and faster process compared to looking for a buyer for a property that you formally own.

  4. CON: Dealing with landlords

    When you rent a property, your use of the property will remain subject, to a certain extent, to the property owner’s supervision. You may need to first secure permits and approval for events and activities that you want to hold for your congregation, for instance.

  5. CON: Changing terms of lease

    The conditions you might find ideal in a rental property today may not be the same next year. Rent might increase or new housekeeping guidelines may be introduced by the landlord. Being a renter, you might need to be on your toes for any changes that can negatively affect the experience of your church.

  6. CON: Limitations on customization and renovation

    If the space that your church occupies is just a rental, you may not be able to fully realize your design vision. Changes to the physical property may be limited to certain minor tweaks and updates that the property owner will allow.

Top considerations to help you make the best decision

  1. The goals, objectives, and plans of your church

    When trying to decide between buying or renting a church property, consider both your long-term and immediate plans for your church and its activities. What type of space will you need to fulfill your mission?

  2. The size of your congregation

    If you are thinking of the buy-versus-rent debate because your church is outgrowing your current space, congratulations! Use these numbers to inform your decision. Is your membership large enough to support a fundraising drive to meet your needs? Can the size of your organization sustain a long-term property investment?

  3. Your church’s budget and the source of your funding

    Your church’s existing financial resources will help you make a grounded and safe decision. But in addition to meeting your basic rent or down payment needs, look into worthwhile fundraising opportunities that will support your transition from your current space to the next.

If you are looking for the most reliable partners and advisors to help you rent or buy a church property in Illinois, Church Building Consultants Realty is the team you need. Contact us today at 630.344.9449 or inquire via email at dan(at)churchbuildingrealty(dotted)com.