Irish Crossings Nears Completion

by Nick Molnar on September 21, 2012

Buying a South Bend condo can be a difficult investment choice.

You can buy in an older complex. Most of these are in “B” locations a bit further from Notre Dame, and several are starting to have maintenance concerns. Many of the units need updating. On the plus side, the price can be very attractive.

Or you can buy in a newer complex. These are mostly in prime locations walking distance to Notre Dame, restaurants and shops. They are generally larger, have modern floorplans and finishes, and have better parking. But they cost more, often 2-4 times the price of the older condos.

In itself, that is a straightforward decision – pay more and you get more – and the newer condos and townhomes have mostly been winning the last five or six years.

But there is another concern that comes with the new condos – build-out hassles and risk of buying into a development that later stalls.

Build-out hassles are clear with a moment’s thought. Construction is noisy. It’s dusty and dirty. It requires lots of traffic, lots of trucks and leaves lots of trash. It’s generally not an environment in which you want to spend time.

But failed, slowed or stalled developments are a less obvious risk. Once you buy a townhouse or condo, you are tied to that development. If sales slow several things can happen:

  • The developer might change the plans for future buildings or phases. If the new units are significantly smaller or less expensive than your unit or they clash with the existing units, that could change the personality of the community, and the price of your condo.
  • The developer could drop prices on future units to spur sales. This drops the value of your condo below the amount you paid for it.
  • The developer could fold and fail to complete the project. This is the worst result because it could make your condo essentially unsellable. It will take time for the bank who financed the project to take the property back and to sell it. The future buyer will have different plans for the project. Those likely include making future buildings rentals, leaving you owning a condo in an apartment complex that is very difficult to sell.

South Bend has seen more than a few condo projects fizzle, flop or fail to get off the ground. A partial list would include:

  • The Notre Dame Avenue Townhomes
  • Legacy Square
  • Gameday Hall of Fame
  • The JMS Conversion
  • Colfax Place
  • Keenan Court
  • The North Douglas condos

So that is the downside risk to buying a new construction condo in South Bend.

But there are several ways to minimize risk when buying a new South Bend condo or townhouse.

  • Choosing a community with popular features and an attractive location can help ensure you buy in a winning complex.
  • Finding a community with the best selling floorplans can help ensure you buy a property that will have continued demand when it’s time to resell. To date, multi-level townhouse properties have sold better than other styles.
  • Choosing a community with a good history of sales at or above the price you’ll pay is a good sign there is demand for the properties at/above the price you’ll pay.
  • But the simplest and surest way to be sure you’re buying into a successful community is to buy after it’s nearly complete. If you buy the last, or one of the last properties competed in a community, you know exactly what you are getting. You can get the sold prices on the other units. You can be sure the plans aren’t changing after you buy. And you can talk to other people who have bought in the community and see if they are happy or have complaints.

Irish Crossings has hit the point where it is a compelling buy compared to other communities. In fact, Irish Crossings is the most successful residential real estate development in South Bend, or anywhere within 10 miles on Notre Dame, in the last 5 years. Of the 78 properties in the community, 76 have been built and sold, for more than $30 million altogether.

The final two townhomes in the community are now being completed and listed for sale. It’s an opportunity to buy one of the last units at Irish Crossings and a good way to buy a known commodity and limit your risk if you’re buying a Notre Dame townhouse.

Full disclosure, I am the listing agent on these last two townhomes.  You can find more details about them here:


South Bend Real Estate Report: Through August 31, 2012

by Nick Molnar on September 14, 2012

Here are sales statistics for sales through the Greater South Bend-Mishawaka MLS through the end of August 2012.


And for clarity, here they are removing the years before 2008.


All the sales 1/1/2012 – 8/31/2012 at a glance


and those sales by financing terms:



Here’s a snapshot of the foreclosure market in St. Joseph County (primarily South Bend / Mishawaka / Granger) for the first quarter of 2012.

There were 131 such foreclosures sold, but just 12 at $100k+. Here are all the recorded sales prices:

Click on the images below for interactive maps with details. You’ll need to zoom in to South Bend as a few addresses mapped incorrectly. You can ignore the markers out of the state. Once you are in the area, you can click the icons for addresses, prices and links to details of homes for sale.


There were 131 sales of foreclosed homes recorded in the area’s MLS between January 1 and March 31.
There were 106 foreclosed homes listed for sale in the area’s MLS when I pulled the data on April 19.

Foreclosures in St. Joseph County that sold Jan 1 – March 31 and all foreclosures listed for sale


Only those over $50k

36 foreclosures sold over $50k in St. Joseph County January 1 – March 31 and 43 foreclosures are listed for sale at $50k+


If you’re looking to buy a South Bend area house at a price over $100k, you won’t find many foreclosed options, just 24 are listed for sale at the time I write this. If you’re willing to deal with the uncertainty and slow responses that are part of buying a short sale you’ll find more choices by including those in your search – there are 107 short sales for sale now and 28 of them are priced at $100k+.

And there are well-priced homes included in homes that are neither foreclosures nor short sales. There are 946 houses for sale over $100k in the county right now. Limiting your search to the five or six percent of these homes that are short sales or foreclosures may not be the best way to get a good buy. It may take filtering out some overpriced homes, and even writing some low offers, but considering all types of housing is a smart choice before you buy.




South Bend Real Estate Report: March 2012

by Nick Molnar on April 6, 2012

“Real estate sales are up!”,  “The Spring Market has arrived!”,  “The Economy is on track for a recovery!” Every year about this time I see these breathless headlines, roll my eyes, and run through the news story or article cataloging what significant details the author missed – the change to tax policy or qualified mortgages, that foreclosures aren’t down because fewer homeowners are delinquent but are on hold while banks sort out the paperwork –  and the lack of or misrepresentation of the source data. But this year, in this market, sales spiked considerably in March, and it seems to be a genuine bounce.

In March 2012, in the Greater South Bend – Mishawaka MLS (search it here), there are records for 273 sales that add up to about $29.2 million. For comparison, March 2011 records show 201 sales for about $20.4 million. Those are increases of about 36% by number and 43% by dollars. They are more in line with what April/May sales were last year. So the question becomes “Is this the start of a more lively market than the past few years or could it be that the regular Spring bounce has started earlier this year since the weather broker sooner?” It’s going to take a few months to know.  Remember that it is not smart to base major financial decisions on one month’s data.

Here is the long term graph showing sales volume month by month back to 2001:


It was a good month for high end homes within the city of South Bend. The most expensive sales in St. Joseph County generally tend to be in Granger, with a few high dollar sales in Mishawaka, South Bend, or other areas rounding out the mix. But in March the the 3 highest dollar sales, and 4 of the 5 priciest homes sold were in South Bend, in Deer Run, on Notre Dame Avenue, and in Ridgedale/Twyckenham Hills:

Here are all the March 2012 sales prices at a glance:

March saw 5  sales close at $500k+ bringing the number of sales over the half million dollar point to 9 for the first quarter of 2012. In the first quarter of 2011 there was just one sale at this price point and in 2010 there were 3.

More sales and more high price sales is a good sign for sellers. But it’s too early to draw conclusions from this as there are still many problems impacting housing markets. I’ll stop at the statistics here. If you want my predictions or advice, you’ll have to call me to talk.



Here are the recent sales recorded in the Greater South Bend Mishawaka MLS (search it here)

  • January: 148 sales, totaling just over $14 million.
  • February: 161 sales, totaling about $15.8 million.

Distressed sales, which I’ll define as disclosed foreclosures or short sales, are a significant but not overwhelming piece of the market. In these two months they accounted for about 1 in 3 sales and about 20% of the dollars sold.

Here is a scatter graph showing all the sales at a glance.


And here is the long term sales graph, which lets you easily compare sales volume to past years


2012 is starting off at a slightly faster pace than the last few years, but until we see numbers for March and April it’s not very useful to make predictions for the year. From what I’ve seen so far this year, it appears sellers who can wait are doing just that. There are fewer new Spring listings than in past years. And while buyers with vision will find many options, there is a shortage of polished, updated homes that don’t need any work at all. It’s not as extreme as Redfin’s Geln Kelman describes in larger markets, but if you have a turnkey home in a popular South Bend or Granger neighborhood, you might be in a stronger position as a seller than you’d think just listening to the news about foreclosures and fraud.

Have a question about South Bend real estate? Put it in the comments or send me a note.