Kent Brandenburg's "Nice House"

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For reference

I don't intend to find Bro. Brandenburg's address, but if this is any indication, $550k in El Sobrante (not even one of the premium towns around the Bay, as it's a bit of a hike from San Fran and San Jose) gets you about 1500-2000 square feet and a quarter acre lot, or about what you'd expect a pastor with a few kids ought to need.  We are not exactly talking about Joel Osteen's mansion here.

Vastly different

Housing is vastly varied around the world.  My daughter and son-in-law live in a 30 year-old 2300 square foot colonial 40 minutes NE of SF California.  Their one bedroom apartment was costing them 3000 a month.  They paid almost 900,000 for this home and it needed a lot of work. I am happy for Pastor Ken and feel sorry for people trying to buy homes or even rent in the bay area.  Nightmare! 

Pastor Mike Harding

The Bay-area market:

 

I know a guy at church who grew up in the Bay-area.  His elderly parents still live in the same house they bought over 60 years ago.  He says they paid something like $34,000 for it, and that similar houses in their neighborhood are selling now for around $900,000.

Another thought....

....is that Kent's comments illustrate the importance of long term planning in terms of ministry.  Kent is able to minister because he's been with the church he serves like forever, no?  Now imagine you're trying to get pastors out to the Bay, but your church is known for hiring men for only 3-5 years, and does not own a parsonage.

It'll be rough, won't it?  When transaction costs for buying or selling a house are 5-10% of house value, there are not too many pastors who can afford to buy, and then sell, a house in that area.  Those who can have probably considered retiring.

On "churning" and buying and selling homes

To "churn" in investments is to buy and sell needlessly to generate commissions (stock brokers)

With housing and with real estate commissions of 7% (not to speak of closing costs & moving expenses), to move frequently (buying and selling) wastes a lot of money.

Having said this, we have owned 6 houses: Tampa, Pittsburgh, Grand Rapids, Cherry Hill, Denver, and Plymouth. 

We lost $$ on the first sale, made $$ on all of the others.

The Denver house (actually Centennial Colorado) was the worst house (in terms of construction quality) of the six. We bought it for $ 92K and sold it for $ 175K. It reports on Zillow as worth $ 432K. While we lived there we: put in hardwood floors, finished the basement, put in new windows and doors, and new siding and a new roof. 

I could easily spend 20-40

I could easily spend 20-40 hours a week fixing up the 1920 parsonage, as well as half of my salary on it. We are doing some, but not nearly as much as we could. If I owned (or could afford to own), it would be worthwhile. We simply hope to leave it better for the next than it was left to us. 

CAWatson wrote:

CAWatson wrote:

I could easily spend 20-40 hours a week fixing up the 1920 parsonage, as well as half of my salary on it. We are doing some, but not nearly as much as we could. If I owned (or could afford to own), it would be worthwhile. We simply hope to leave it better for the next than it was left to us. 

Ditto that.  The church I pastor also has a parsonage.  I don't mind it.  I am saving for a house while I live in it, and am not paying interest like I would if I had a 30 year mortgage.  My hope is to be able to pay cash when the time comes.  In the mean time, the parsonage I live in needs work.  The church has done well at addressing many things, but it seems like the list never gets finished.  I do some work, but I don't have the time to do it all, nor am I super-motivated to put in a lot of sweat when the house isn't mine.  

Parsonage

The church I pastor showed interest in building a nice parsonage in the early years.  I asked them not to.  I lived in a small, low cost rental house until we could scrape enough for a down payment on a house.  At the beginning, I would have been better off with a parsonage.  Long range, I am much better having bought my own home.  It will usually require a lot of years which are tight financially, but eventually it pays off nicely.

G. N. Barkman

Observation: Parsonages tend to be neglected houses

Parsonages tend to be neglected houses. We were in two:

  • 204 3rd Avenue, Haddon Heights NJ 

    • Termite infested
    • In the basement was the church print shop
    • After we moved they turned it into a maintenance shop
  • 237 West Main Street, Moorestown, NJ
    • Built in the 1890's
    • Used to be a funeral parlor
    • While we were living there (3 years):
      • An electrical outlet caught fire & 
      • A portion of the chimney collapsed resulting in the main level filling with oily smoke
    • The plus: WAWA was directly across the street

If a church has a parsonage,

If a church has a parsonage, and if that benefit is what might allow it to call a full-time pastor, then they should use the time they have between pastors to get the parsonage up to snuff.  Get the women of the church together and walk them through the parsonage, asking them, "If this was your home, what would need to be fixed/changed?"  Then get the work done ASAP while the home is empty.   

A few points of note: 

A few points of note: 

1. The church wouldn't have been able to afford to call a pastor without the parsonage. They offered to sell the parsonage, and give a housing allowance, but with the current financial state of the church (and the lack of houses for sale in town at the time), keeping the parsonage makes sense. 

2. The parsonage is ideally located in the small town for ministry - right behind the high school, and within a 3 block radius, about 9-10 kids. 

3. The town has a history with the church and the parsonage. Almost everyone I've met has a grandmother, or parents who were married in that parsonage at one time or another. 

4. We came to the church with the understanding that we would only be full time for about 2 years, unless the Lord did something big in bringing back the church. Our budget is running severely red right now (about 20-25k per year). 

5. The church put 5k towards the repair of the parsonage (but much more will be needed - it hasn't been painted on the exterior in 20 years). We spent $500 just on a dumpster to clear out stuff that had been left behind by previous families. 

6. The church knows that much more needs done. The average age of the church prevents most from helping. The church budget is also prohibitive. If the Lord blesses, and the church grows, some of the issues may be able to be dealt with in the future. 

Jim wrote:

Jim wrote:

Parsonages tend to be neglected houses. We were in two:

  • 204 3rd Avenue, Haddon Heights NJ 

    • Termite infested
    • In the basement was the church print shop
    • After we moved they turned it into a maintenance shop
  • 237 West Main Street, Moorestown, NJ
    • Built in the 1890's
    • Used to be a funeral parlor
    • While we were living there (3 years):
      • An electrical outlet caught fire & 
      • A portion of the chimney collapsed resulting in the main level filling with oily smoke
    • The plus: WAWA was directly across the street


A Wawa right across the street? Who cares about electrical fires and collapsed chimneys! Smile

My First Parsonage

My new (one month) bride and I moved into an old farmhouse with a toilet that was falling through rotted flooring, an old coal furnace (not airtight) in which we had to burn wood which we harvested, cut, and split (at least 10 cords for a Maine winter), water pumped from an open spring that often went dry in the summer, and a real snake pit (non-poisonous) under the back porch. At least there were no mice but the snakes were well-fed.)

"Some things are of that nature as to make one's fancy chuckle, while his heart doth ache." John Bunyan


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