Reasons Churches Rely on

Barry Willbanks

as their Realtor


1.               Experience.  Barry sold his first church properties in 1982, when he saw the potential of this "niche" market.   The fit was a natural for him as a former pastor himself and professor of Biblical studies.   Over the years he has developed strong working relationships with various church executives, pastors of many denominations, and leaders of faiths other than Christian.   Of particular pride is his work with The Salvation Army in buying or selling properties in three different Counties.   His experience has included selling church properties, church land, church-owned homes, and even unusual properties like a former mortuary, an office building, a former bank, and a storefront used by a church.   The properties he has sold, listed, and/or evaluated are scattered all over the Bay Area.  


What does this mean to you?  You probably wouldn’t hire a podiatrist if you needed eye

surgery.   So why hire a Realtor whose experience is primarily houses, condos, investment or commercial properties.   Experience counts.  Barry has over twenty years in residential sales and church sales.  The first provides bread and butter; the second feeds the soul as well.


2.                  Resources.  As a professional, Barry has sought to incorporate resources that enhance his ability to serve his clients.


a. Coldwell Banker is probably northern California’s largest broker.   With

the largest market share, Coldwell Banker provides credibility, networked

offices, software resources, managerial oversight, and web connections,

etc.   Together these resources enhance Barry’s ability to develop his

specialty as a Church Property Realtor.


b. MLS relationships.   Barry is a member of the Silicon Valley Association of Realtors and its MLS operations (covering Monterey to So. San Francisco).   For properties outside the normal scope of this affiliation, Barry uses the reciprocating connection to other MLS systems throughout the state, as well as cooperative arrangements such as MLS Alliance.


c. Internet.  Barry maintains a web page (, uses Loopnet (, Coldwell Banker (,,, etc.  He also maintains a personal web page (  Listings may be posted on other web pages common in the industry.


d. Direct Mail.  Barry subscribes to many Yellow Page directories that cover the counties of the greater Bay Area.   He has obtained the denominational directories of several denominations.   He regularly scans various Bay Area newspapers for updates about churches (pastoral changes, property needs, contacts, etc.) for database revisions.   At present Barry has well over 5000 churches and/or religious organizations in his database.  Barry subscribes to a software service that updates the Zip Codes and Barcodes in his databases to make his mailing accurate and efficient.


e.         Records.   Barry maintains a file on each church he talks to about property needs.   These records provide a long-term memory resource for matching church needs with available properties.   For example, from these records, Barry called a church three years after the original contact, to tell them a property had come on the market that would fit their needs. They obtained the property in spite of six other offers.


f.          Referrals.   Barry gets referrals from other brokers and pastors regularly.  Most brokers have little or no experience in estimating church values, working with church boards, connecting with specialized church lenders, etc.   Good brokers know their limitations and respect a specialist outside their own expertise.   Barry keeps a record of other brokers who are looking for a church property, have church listings, etc.


g.         Advertising.   Media advertising is usually not needed, but is used selectively when other connections are not fruitful.   Barry has advertised in papers (i.e., Wall Street Journal, The Oakland Post) as well as used direct mail and various Multiple Listing Services.


h.         Email Network with Commercial Brokers.   Barry has developed a bulk email directory of commercial Realtors in the Bay Area.   He can send them information about listings as well as solicit information about their listings.


i.          Subscription to Property Promotion & Distribution.   Weekly flyers are received from various commercial brokers with properties available for sale or lease.   These flyers are reviewed and filed for use with churches.


j.          Subscription to Marshall Valuation.   This valuable resource provides detailed information about construction costs of various kinds of buildings & uses, which is updated monthly for each County.   This information is useful in estimating the value of properties by adding in the land value after depreciating the improvements consistent with their age and condition.


k.         Technology.   Barry stays in touch with email, cell phone, business cards, digital camera (for web listings), Internet connection through high-speed digital cable modems.   Through the Coldwell Banker network, Barry can look up the County records on individual properties (parcel numbers, maps, use, ownership, cost etc).


l.          COSTAR COMPS.   Barry uses the services of this company to do specialized research regarding land prices and church sales in California.   This valuable information is useful for estimating church values with verified comparative data.   Similar information is sometimes gleaned from other public and professional sources.


m.        Lenders.   Loans for churches are not like home loans or commercial loans.   Most lenders refrain from serving non-profit voluntary associations such as churches.   Those that do serve them are often not well known, are out of state, etc.   Barry maintains a list of dozens of possible church lenders.   Knowledge of the underwriting requirements of church lenders can save you time, money, and frustration.


n.         Church Executives. Barry has developed a database of church executives. These persons not only have influence among the churches, but often know about church needs and plans before they are public.   They can be a useful resource for discovering properties that may come on the market or for discovering congregations wanting to purchase.


o.         Denominational Headquarters. Barry maintains a database of denominational offices.   These offices may know of church needs and wants even before regional church executives are aware.   Barry seeks to multiply his contacts to amplify the possibilities of making matches that serve his clients.


p.         Forms.   Yes, that dreaded paper work needs careful attention.   There are legally required disclosures that need to be made.   This area needs careful attention for your own protection.   These disclosures include professionally prepared disclosures regarding registered toxic sites, earthquake zones, Mello-Roos zones, state fire hazard zones, flood zones, lead based paint, liquefaction potential, etc.   Other disclosures are mandated to come from the seller’s own knowledge.   You would want these as a Buyer.   You must give them as a Seller.   I can help you fulfill your legal obligation.


q.         Professional Standing.   Barry has served on the Board of Directors of his local Association of Realtors, been a representative to the California Association of Realtors, worked on various professional Association committees, assisted in the training of new agents, and served as an expert witness in two Superior Court cases.   In addition to his Broker’s license, Barry has earned the CRS designation from the National Marketing Institute.   He has qualified for Coldwell Banker’s Senior Commercial Broker.  Like other professionals, he maintains membership in the local, California, and National Association of Realtors.


3.             Integrity.  When all is said and done, you want to rely on someone who values integrity above all else. A broker is a fiduciary.   He must put the interest of his client above his own.   With years of past experience as a pastor, Bible college professor, Salvation Army advisory board member, community college instructor, church elder/teacher, husband, and father, Barry wants to maintain his reputation as a man of integrity.


4.           Comments by Others.


“Our entire Church Council was impressed by you, as someone who is professional and who was there by our side from the beginning to the end. The sale of our church and parsonage could not have been done as smoothly and efficiently except for your honesty, dedication, and commitment.  We knew from the beginning that we could trust you.” Pastor Ron Geikow, St. Mary & St. Martha Lutheran Church


“After an extended search that included personal interviews with the finalists, our Board voted unanimously and enthusiastically to select Barry Willbanks to represent us. We were impressed with his extensive experience in working with local churches, with his pastoral ministry background, and with his apparent personal integrity and honesty. We have never regretted this choice. . . . We are confident that others will have the same experience with Barry that we have had.” Pastor Raymond H. Trembath, Pilgrim Congregational Church


“I want you to know how much we appreciate the assistance beyond the call of duty that Barry Willbanks rendered to us . . . I was especially impressed by the way he handled the writing of a non-traditional lease agreement. Never once did we have to wonder what to do next . . . I came to know Barry as a man of utter integrity . . ., ability and business expertise. I am confident he will be an asset wherever he goes and I recommend him to you without reservation.” Bishop Nelson Jones, Ph.D., Sr. Pastor, Apostolic Faith Temple, Oakland


“I have worked with Barry Willbanks on three sales over the past 5 years or so. In all of our transactions, Barry has demonstrated a very high degree of integrity and professionalism. He has been patient in answering my questions, thorough in assessing our needs and the values of our properties, and creative in structuring the sales so that both parties are well served. Not only is his knowledgeable, but more importantly, he loves the church and loves the Lord.” Chuck Ruthroff, Assistant to the Bishop, Sierra Pacific Synod, Evangelical Lutheran Church of America


“I have worked with Barry Willbanks the last 15 years as his regional manager and as President.  He is highly professional, knowledgeable, and experienced in the sale of churches and religious properties.” Avram Goldman, President, Coldwell Banker Northern California


“Just a note to let you know how much I appreciate the work that you do in facilitating the purchase and resale of church buildings throughout the Bay Area. I know dealing with church properties, parishioners, church leadership, pastors and the many other interested parties can not only be taxing but can consume a lot of your time. However, you have demonstrated the patience of Job during my acquaintance. In addition, I am well pleased in how you assist sellers and buyers with not only the natural benefits but also the spiritual. Although I dabble in the field of church selling, I frequently refer individuals to you and your web site, “tell them if they truly want to purchase or sell, then Barry Willbanks is the best person for the job.” L.J. Jennings, President, JetStream Mortgage


"It is my pleasure to recommend Barry Willbanks as a Realtor.  Not only is Barry completely competent and highly qualified to work with churches, he understands the intricate issues around the selling and buying of churches.  Our Church Board, Steering Committee, and pastoral staff were very impressed with his knowledge and market savvy, as well as, his attention to details.  I highly recommend Barry Willbanks to your church -- he will help you and save you from mistakes other churches have made."  David Curtiss, Pastor, Vineyard Community Church of the Nazarene, Livermore, California