Real Estate Lessons from Joel Osteen and Lakewood Church: It Is Better To Lease, Then To Buy

You might be thinking, “How can I buy me some prime Greenway Plaza real estate from the city for, say $12.50 a square foot?” If, as expected, city council approves the sale in tomorrow’s meeting, that’s the amount Lakewood Church will pay for the Southwest Freeway building it’s currently leasing.

Lakewood took out a 30-year lease on the property — which formerly served as home court for the Houston Rockets, first as the Houston Summit, and later as the Compaq Center — in 2001. Lakewood prepaid the entire $11.8 million lease amount, then spent more than $80 million to turn the former basketball arena into a proper TV-worthy megachurch. But the key to Lakewood’s current real estate good fortune is the lease extension it negotiated: an option to extend the lease for an additional 30 years for $22.6 million.

Since the city likely won’t receive any income (or tax revenue) from the property until the year 2061, city real estate managers think selling the 606,000-sq.-ft. property on more than 7 acres at 3700 Southwest Fwy. to the church is a good idea. The price? A value only net-present-value adherents, real-estate appraisers, and the Lakewood faithful could love: $7.5 million.

Feeling a little inspired by the church’s ability to swing such a deal? It is yet another testament to the remarkable real-estate skills of Houston’s leading property-investment guru, Lakewood Church pastor Joel Osteen. In this passage from his latest book, It’s Your Time, Osteen virtually screams, “GET IN FIRST, BUY LATER”:


There is a place God has designed where opportunities find you, a place where His blessings overtake you.

God created places before He created people.

God created the oceans, and then He created fish and other marine life to swim in His waters. He created land, and then He populated the planet with man and animals.

Location, location, location is not just a Realtor’s slogan. God has always been careful about matching His creatures to the places where they will flourish. He didn’t put polar bears in the Mojave Desert. He didn’t place sharks and sea rays in the Rocky Mountains.

In the same way, God has a particular place for each one of us, a place where each of us will find our highest purpose, where we will thrive and reflect God’s greatness. . . .

Your location is extremely important. God will not bless you just anywhere. He will bless you when you are where you’re supposed to be physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually. I encourage you to find that place. Don’t settle for anything less than the best God has to give you.

You can tell your place of blessing by how it feels to you. Your senses and your spirit will tell you: This is where I am supposed to be.

18 Comment

  • I wandered in the desert for 40 years. I was confused, lonely, and uncertain. Finally, God told me to build His temple at the 3700 block of the Southwest Freeway. He was kind enough to warn me to take a surface street, though. That 59/ 610 interchange is a real bitch. And it was good.

  • 22.6 million over 30 years or 7.5 million up front?

    It’s fairly cut an dry right now.

  • Why not just give them the damn building, route a Metro train underneath it, and give an additional tax exemption to every member of the church, and buy Victoria a new wardrobe from Tootsie’s while we’re feeling so freakin’ generous with the taxpayers money?

  • Lakewood Church, Inc is a shining example of how to pay as little as possible taxes to the community you make your millions in.

    It may be a cut & dry deal if you look at it from a purely monetary standpoint in the term-run. Longer term, it makes sense to hold on to this prime property. It will be worth way more. And who knows, Lakewood may not even be around by then.

  • 22.6 million over 30 years or 7.5 million up front?

    It’s fairly cut an dry right now.


    Except for one little detail. What would the property be worth after those 30 years were up? This mayor like the previous mayor appears to have no problem giving property away. But we have to keep the developers downtown happy so they have a park. And, well, those folks at Lakewood vote.

    But no doubt it’s a done deal. Like everything else at City Hall. Mustn’t upset the mayor. Especially this one.

  • I say cut and dry because the property as the Compaq Center outlived it’s usefulness. The maintenance would eventually out pace the potential revenue. The venue competes against other options such as the Toyota Center and Reliant Arena (not the football stadium). It was to be used for convention space, it’ll have to compete again the city’s GRB or the County’s Reliant Center. Unloading it for the city makes sense.

  • Why doesn’t Lakewood do the christian thing and give all their money away every month? Why doesn’t Joel& Victoria live a modest life? It’s becuase they are motivational speakers, that’s why. People are motivated by power, not by modest mouses like Mother Theresa.

    Joel& Co. need to fess up and start paying taxes just like the rest of us! They are no more Christian or Godly than I am, and I gotta pay for HISD & Harris County Hospitals every year!

  • Unloading it for the city makes sense.

    At some point the economy will recover and Houston will have another boom. And there is that huge parcel in Greenway Plaza that instead of being sold to a developer for more office or residential space will instead belong to Jim and Tammy Faye.

    But, well, again, the members of Lakewood vote. So what’s more important? Votes or long-range planning for the city?

  • Well, “Jim and Tammy” already paid up for 30 years on the lease. Even if the city didn’t sell it, they couldn’t do anything with the property for 30 years.

    That’s enough to go through another boom and bust.

  • wilf is funny

  • Why not sell a facility that in 30 years will be over 50 years old with not much demand for that kind of open interior space?

  • Why not sell a facility that in 30 years will be over 50 years old with not much demand for that kind of open interior space?

    Maybe because of the value of the land in 50 years? Which will probably exceed the return on investment of the total $29.something million the city is selling it for at this point. Might be interesting to know the city did with the $22 million already paid on the lease. It is doubtful it was invested. Merely used to “balance the budget” instead of being invested to ensure continued return. Not that return matters to anyone at City Hall. Any more than long-range planning does.

  • It’s easy for city, state and federal governments to give money away, they just have to raise taxes or print money to make up for their poor decisions.

  • let me see if i understand this….the church had $80 million available to renovate the building. which i assume was through donations (i could be wrong) that were not taxed as revenue to them.

    now the city is thinking about selling them the building for $7.5 million to cover budget shortfalls?

    why not tax the church %10 on the revenue it’s earned instead? that is modest compared to the 35% tax charged to corporations. i know it’s too late to do that of course…but i never understood why churches get a tax-exemption.

    we need to fix this system.

  • well…nevermind. one flaw in my logic is that is the federal tax rate….not that local city tax rate.

  • The Osteens pay income taxes just like everyone else, it’s the church doesn’t. However with as large as their tv ministry is people have moved from all over the country to come to church their bringing more tax dollars and revenue to the city.

  • GOD bless Joel, Victoria and the Osteen family, Lakewood Church and all who have faith in GOD and love. I hope they all have greater success, happiness and keep spreading joy and planting seeds of goodness and faith in GOD. I hope everyone can love and be happy by having faith in GOD and especially be happy for and love someone else’s good fortunes and GOD’s blessings. GOD has blessed them and will bless you too if you only have faith in HIM. Amen.

  • Ummmm. Tell you what.. I’ll go to church the very next time I need to hear some ‘real good bullcrap’…