National Catholic Reporter

The Independent News Source

2011 a record year for church foreclosures

 |  NCR Today

The church foreclosure report is largely focused on Protestant churches that have been foreclosed. If the number of Catholic churches that have been shut down by bishops and chancery officials during this same time period, the number would be even higher. Closed Catholic churches are effectively ones that have undergone an internal foreclosure for the same reasons the Protestant churches have been foreclosed by commercial banks: no money, diminishing congregations, fixed-to-increasing maintenance and utility costs, etc.

Here's the Reuters story:


  • 2011 a record year for church foreclosures

  • Churches hit by credit bubble, some devalued

  • Churches faulting, struggling with "balloon" payouts

  • Banks say church foreclosure last resort

Banks are foreclosing on America's churches in record numbers as lenders increasingly lose patience with religious facilities that have defaulted on their mortgages, according to new data.

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The surge in church foreclosures represents a new wave of distressed property seizures triggered by the 2008 financial crash, analysts say, with many banks no longer willing to grant struggling religious organizations forbearance.

Since 2010, 270 churches have been sold after defaulting on their loans, with 90 percent of those sales coming after a lender-triggered foreclosure, according to the real estate information company CoStar Group.

In 2011, 138 churches were sold by banks, an annual record, with no sign that these religious foreclosures are abating, according to CoStar. That compares to just 24 sales in 2008 and only a handful in the decade before.

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