From the Star Ledger:
The latest entries in the New Jersey real estate market feature some unusual amenities.
A two-floor building in Seaside Heights comes with a baptismal pool, as well as a few “open sitting/reading areas.”
In Montclair, a 16,133-square-foot property includes Palladian windows and a large wood-paneled conference room.
There’s a basement meeting hall and “main sanctuary” in an Audubon facility overlooking Hidden Lake Park — on sale for $490,000.
The three church properties are just a sample of the many houses of faith that have come on the market in New Jersey alongside a flood of foreclosed residences. Experts point to a range of factors, from long-developing demographic shifts to a drop in donations during a tough recession.
“A lot of congregations, especially in smaller churches, have older populations, so they can no longer afford to maintain large properties,” said Mark Kotzas, a broker for Crossroads Realty in Ocean County, which is handling the sales of several faith centers, including Grace Evangelical Church, the one advertising the baptismal pool.
Brokers say the hurdles in selling religious properties are often different from private home sales. There are fewer potential buyers in the market; decisions are often made by committees in the congregation; zoning restrictions may prevent certain properties from being converted.
“How do you value these properties?” said John Roedig, a partner with the May Commercial Group and the broker for the Grace Tabernacle Church in Audubon. “You have some general assumptions about a two-story Colonial house, but what can you say about a 20,000-square-foot building’s price?”
“Banks have gotten so strict in their lending,” said Drew Knapp, an agent with Century 21 Commercial Real Estate in Caldwell.