Service of a Divine Location

September 8th, 2014

Categories: Location, Real Estate

If you’ve glanced at real estate sections over the years you’ll have seen advice against buying a house too close to the road, how a swimming pool lowers a property’s value and so on. Since hurricanes and oil leaks have more frequently had their way with beachfront properties, many are taking a second look at oceanside homes, once coveted by me especially.

On the brighter side Stefanos Chen shared highlights of a German study on the benefits of owning a condo near–though at the right distance from–a place of worship. It doesn’t matter what religion. He wrote “A study of the housing market in Hamburg, Germany, found that condos located between 100 to 200 meters, or 109 to 219 yards, away from a place of worship listed for an average 4.8% more than other homes. The effect was similar across all religious buildings studied, including churches, mosques and temples.”

Continued Chen, “But live too close to the religious building—within 100 meters—and the premium is erased, they found. Sounds associated with houses of worship are only part of the problem. The effect of bell ringing, for example, wasn’t statistically significant, he said.” The “he” is Wolfgang Maennig a German professor in the University of Hamburg’s economics and social sciences department who co-authored the journal report that appeared in Growth and Change.

Maennig told Chen that being close to transportation and sports arenas also adds value. I’d question the latter. Surefire gridlock when the local team was playing at home would make me want to rent or buy far, far away.

The jury is still out as to whether the divine proximity phenomenon affects US real estate. Can you conjecture? When moving to a condo, co-op or house, what do you look for in the location?


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8 Responses to “Service of a Divine Location”

  1. ASK Said:

    I also once thought how wonderful it would be to live oceanside until my husband and I looked at a hi-rise condo on the beach; when I went out on the terrace and looked down, high tide had rolled in…all I saw was water. Yikes! Also, would not want to share a street address with a fire or police station or a hospital.

  2. Jeanne Byington Said:


    Great points!

    When I lived in Turkey, we visited a town you had to reach and leave during specific hours when the tide was out. We spent the night. The hotel had wonderful linen sheets but they felt wet the air was so humid. Not pleasant.

    A cousin of my mother’s lived up the street from a fire station in a most elegant apt. in the east 60s off Lexington Avenue. I don’t recall hearing sirens when I visited. I imagine you hear ambulances and fire engines if you live on a Manhattan avenue or major crosstown street. My bet is that you would eventually tune out the sirens. Though when I lived on Park Avenue for a few years I’d tense up when I’d hear the screech of brakes praying that the car hadn’t hit anyone and that I wouldn’t subsequently hear a horrible smashing noise of a collision.

    You can’t ignore the water!

  3. Simon Carr Said:

    You ask a deceptively complicated question. The answer depends upon many factors.

    I once sold a Manhattan apartment house to an Israeli buyer. One of the reasons the Israelis wanted to buy it was that it was half a block away from one of New York’s leading Orthodox Synagogues, which meant that it was within easy walking distance for tenants to walk to services on the Sabbath. (I understand that practicing Orthodox Jews are not supposed to ride in automobiles on Holy days.)

    The building is unlikely to have had the same appeal to potential Moslem, Catholic or Protestant buyers.

  4. Jeanne Byington Said:


    That’s a great reason to want to move near any place of worship: If you attend services, why drive if you can walk? And if you must drive, why travel a long time when you don’t need to?

  5. Hank Goldman Said:

    As to “Service of a Divine Location,” we have (un-named here) relatives that were about to buy a retirement condo, in a Jewish oriented area in Florida, and they faced a similar question of choices. Did they want to be “near the POOL, or the SHUL?” In their case, they chose the Shul!

  6. Jeanne Byington Said:


    Guess they figured they would be going to the Shul all year around and to the pool when it wasn’t too hot or too cool….and that they would never outgrow the Shul but might, at some point, no longer care to hang out in the sun.

  7. Lucrezia Said:

    Polls continue to show a huge percentage (about 80 plus or minus) of Americans believe in a deity. Possibly half or more are lying. However, it looks good to be a churchgoer, therefore living near to a house of worship could pay off in property value. The nonbeliever also profits, if feeling forced (for business reasons or to keep the peace at home) to attend services, since proximity saves time. To some of us, therefore, living close to a church/synagogue/ mosque or what have you brings on divine blessings. Now try telling that to someone whose house is gutted due to flames set in the church next door.

  8. Jeanne Byington Said:


    Maybe fire is why the property values of condos in the study that were too close to a place of worship didn’t reflect the up-charge. Some churches don’t use real candles for insurance purposes, though my guess is rogue candles aren’t the only source of fire that you had in mind.

    I imagine that some find the social aspects of belonging to a place of worship comforting. It’s one way to meet potential friends.

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