2010 was a tough real estate year for many people. Sales volume in the South Bend MLS was down from past years and home prices were under considerable downward pressure. Several developers or builders folded.

But don’t believe the “sky is falling” media reports. South Bend is neither Las Vegas nor Miami. Though prices have fallen, if you bought early or bought “right” you may in better position than you think. And if you are buying now, there is more to making a smart purchase than repeating “offer them half of list price” until someone accepts.  Some neighborhoods and types of homes have held their value, while others have struggled.

This month, I’ll take a look at what did and didn’t sell in 2010 and try to present some general analysis of the real estate conditions in South Bend, Mishawaka and Granger, Indiana. Please remember these are overall numbers and broad generalizations. As with any financially significant decision, before you buy or sell property you should do your homework or get help from someone who knows the market  (for many of you reading this, that would be me).

Here is the 10,000 foot view, total sales numbers and scatter graphs that show every sales price at a glance.

There were 2,785 sales recorded for 2010 in the Greater South Bend – Mishawaka MLS, with a cumulative total of about $295.76 million.

Here is the long term graph of monthly sales totals:

South Bend Real Estate: Long Term Sales Graph

Here are all the sales prices at a glance (each dot represents one sale):

South Bend Real Estate: Sales Prices from 2010

For clarity, here is the same graph excluding the four sales over $700,000:

South Bend Real Estate: Sale Prices from 2010 up to $700k

And here it is again with the sales arranged from least to most expensive. This best illustrated to me how many of the sales took place in various price ranges:

South Bend Real Estate: Sales prices from 2010 with notes

There was an average of 7 sales every day and almost $300 million sold during the year. Nearly 90% of the sales occurred at or below $200,000.

If you liked this post and want to see more like it, add http://www.realst8.com/ to your feedreader, subscribe to our e-mail updates, or check back frequently for more on 2010’s high price sales, condo sales, comparisons to past years and to see what didn’t sell.

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South Bend Real Estate Report: September 2010

by Nick Molnar on October 21, 2010

The South Bend Area MLS records show that in September 2010:
  • 220 residential properties were sold
  • 176 residential properties went under contract
  • 406 residential properties were newly listed or re-listed for sale (that is not a count of all homes for sale, just those listed in August. There are 2,295 homes listed for sale in the SB MLS as I write this)
Those 220 sales add up to $24.98 million in volume. That is about 1.4% higher than in August 2010 and about the same as September 2009.
Here is the long term graph
South Bend Real Estate Sales: January 2002 - September 2010

Real Estate Sales Prices

The high price sale for September 2010 was 104 Conestoga in South Bend off Jefferson Road. It sold for $775,000 on 9/7/10. It was originally listed for $850,000 on 2/18/2010.
104 Consetoga, South Bend, IN
Other high price sales were:
  • 51820 Harborough Drive in Granger’s Covington Shores for $550,000. It was listed for $665,000 on 9/23/2009 and previously sold for $617,000 in January 2009 and $610,000 in November 2007.
    51820 Harborough, Covington Shores, Granger, IN
  • 18263 Berger Street near Notre Dame in South Bend for $482,500. It was listed for $559,000 on 4/19/2010.
    18263 Berger, South Bend, IN
  • 3230 Topsfield in South Bend’s Deer Run for $450,000. It was listed for $1.25 million on 3/9/2007 and previously sold for $850,000 in September 2006.
    3230 Topsfield, South Bend, IN
  • 15852 Ashville Lane in Granger’s Quail Ridge South for $449,000. It was listed for $479,900 on 5/17/2010 and previously sold for $462,500.
    15852 Ashville, Quail Ridge South, Granger, IN
  • 1808 Jefferon Road in South Bend for $425,000. It was listed for $650,000 on 4/8/2010.
    1808 Jefferson, South Bend, IN
There were 11 sales below $10,000 and 84 sales below $50,000.
Here are all the sales prices at a glance:
Real Estate Sales Prices from the South Bend Area MLS: September 2010

Financing

Cash sales account for the greatest number of September’s sales and conventional mortgages made up the largest portion of sales by volume. VA and other types of financing, such as lease-option and owner financing, remain comparatively rare by the numbers.

September 2010 Real Estate Sales from the South Bend Area MLS: Financing Details

More Questions?

If you are considering the purchase or sale of property in the South Bend – Mishawaka – Granger – Notre Dame Area and want a no-pressure, no-hassles consultation with the Realtors behind the South bend Area Real Estate Blog, please contact us. We’re friendly and candid and if we can’t help you, we can probably point you in the right direction. Also, watch for more details on sales in niche markets like Notre Dame condos and new construction homes in coming posts, or feel free to ask questions in the comments. We can’t always answer them immediately, but do read them and try to incorporate them in future posts.

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South Bend Real Estate Report: August 2010

by Nick Molnar on September 25, 2010

The South Bend Area MLS records show that in August 2010:

  • 234 residential properties were sold
  • 268 residential properties went under contract
  • 495 residential properties were newly listed or re-listed for sale (that is not a count of all homes for sale, just those listed in August. There are 2,459 homes listed for sale in the SB MLS as I write this)

The 234 sales add up to $25.43 million in volume. That is about 3% higher than in July 2010 and about 20% lower than in August 2009.

Here is the long term graph

August 2010 - graph of monthly real estate sales volume in the South Bend Area MLS

Real Estate Sales Prices

The high price sale for August 2010 was 1222 Erskine Manor Hill in South Bend’s Erskine Manor neighborhood. It sold for $550,000 on 8/24/10.

Other high price sales were

  • 522 Kamm Island Place at the Townes at Kamm Island for $491,856
  • 51340 Carrigan Way in Covington Shores for $490,000
  • 51308 Harbor Ridge Drive in Covington Shores at $456,500
  • 1504 Colfax in South Bend at $425,000

There were 16 sales below $10,000 and 86 sales below $50,000.

Here are all the sales prices at a glance

Real Estate sales prices for August 2010 from the South Bend Area MLS

Financing

FHA sales were a smaller but still significant force in the market in August. Cash sales continue to dominate the lower price sales and conventional financing the higher price sales.

Real estate sales by type of financing

More Questions?

If you are considering the purchase or sale of property in the South Bend – Mishawaka – Granger – Notre Dame Area and want a no-pressure, no-hassles consultation with the Realtors behind the South bend Area Real Estate Blog, please contact us. We’re friendly and candid and if we can’t help you, we can probably point you in the right direction. Also, watch for more details on sales in niche markets like Notre Dame condos and new construction homes in coming posts, or feel free to ask questions in the comments.

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Watch the Construction of Your Condo

by Nick Molnar on September 2, 2010

If you are buying an unfinished condo or townhouse near Notre Dame but don’t live in South Bend you can still keep an eye on the construction of your condo. A dozen photos of the interior taken once a week will let you watch your place come together. It may even help you catch any mistakes or wrong finishes before your final walk-through.

Here are the photos I took for one of my clients who bought an Irish Crossings townhouse:



As an example, here is the progress of the kitchen:

July 27th
Irish Crossings Construction: Kitchen July 27th

August 16th
Irish Crossings Construction: Kitchen on August 16th

August 27th
Irish Crossings Construction: Kitchen August 27th

This is pretty basic work. It took me about fifteen minutes per week  to take photos, upload them to Picasa and share a link with the couple buying this townhouse. But they were a five hour drive from South Bend, making it impractical for them to watch the work personally.

If you’re buying a condo that is under construction, shouldn’t you ask the person representing you to help you monitor its progress? Is anyone representing you?

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How to Research South Bend Homes Online

by Nick Molnar on August 16, 2010

There aren’t any big secrets to real estate. Like most fields there is a learning curve, the right tools make a difference, and it’s helpful to have relationships with the key players. But the widespread belief that access to the MLS or secret lists of foreclosures is a reason to hire a real estate agent are flat false.

If you are planning to buy a property, there are many reasons you might want to work with a Realtor. Knowledge of the city and its housing stock, help understanding value and avoiding common pitfalls, and assistance with the myriad details involved in buying a house are good reasons. Not knowing how to research a property on your own is not one.

Veteran agents know they add value and provide service that smart people seek out. Agents with less to offer might think of their fees as a tollbooth and try to prevent people from working any way but through them. The very best empower people, then work with those who still prefer assistance from a professional. I say “Real estate transactions are complex and I can help you. But they aren’t rocket science. If you’ve got the time and inclination to go it alone, here are some places to get started. If you later decide you want advice or assistance, let’s talk then.”

With that philosophy, here are five ways for you to start researching South Bend properties online.

1. Find out exactly where it is.
Google maps and satellite views are helpful, but not precise in pointing to an address. A better bet is to use a government agency’s public GIS program (Geographic Information System). There are two options for South Bend properties:

  • The city of South Bend’s GIS site is the simpler. Click search, type in an address and it will highlight the parcel on a satellite image. Type the owner’s name and you can pick the parcel from a list of matching results. One drawback is that the data seems to be a few years old. You may not find information on current owners if the property has been recently sold, or anything at all if it has been recently constructed.
    http://realst8.com/blog/images/HowToSearch/SB-GIS-screenshot.jpg
  • The Michiana Area Council of Governments hosts a more robust GIS site that covers all of St. Joseph and Elkhart Counties. It is a bit more complicated to navigate but is more current and offers more information if you delve into it (subdivisions, traffic counts, school districts and more).
    MACOGGIS screenshot

2. Check out the area. If you start with a GIS service, you know the exact location of the property. Look at it on the public mapping sites. Bing has the best angled imagery of the South Bend Area (Bird’s Eye View), Google Maps have the best street level views and satellite imagery above 200 feet or so, and MapQuest has the most recent satellite imagery if you are looking at newer neighborhoods.
Bing Maps Screenshot
Google Maps Street View Screenshot

3.  Check the public records.

  • You can view documents recorded in the County Recorder’s Office (think deeds and mortgages) using LandRecords.net . It costs $5.95 per search plus $1 per page you print.
    LandRecords.net Screenshot
  • You can find current owners, tax bills, assessed values and delinquencies using FreedomData. It’s free for 30 searches, then you can buy searches two at a time for $5 or subscribe monthly for $10-$75.
    FreedomData Screenshot
  • The County Assessor has an online search you can check by address or owner. If you click on sales history in the left navigation pane you can sometimes see past sales prices, though when someone refinances their mortgage it is shown as a sale for $0 – don’t be confused.
    Assessor's Search Screenshot

4. Check the national real estate sites. Though often outdated and inaccurate, Zillow and Trulia are worth monitoring. Zillow says my home has an assessed value of $257,900 and Trulia says it is 786 square feet – both very wrong. But the sites display “For Sale By Owner” homes, “Make Me Move” prices set by owners and information on rentals. RealtyTrac often shows homes no longer for sale, but can be useful if you are trying to learn the foreclosure market.
Zillow Screenshot

Trulia Screenshot

RealtyTrac Screenshot

5. Check the MLS. The Multipl Listing Service is a database Realtors use to share information about properties and guarantee payment to buyer’s agent upon closing. It is not a public site, but most real estate brokerages offer limited search functionality of all properties currently listed for sale with a member Realtor. In this case that would be any of the ~600 members of the Greater South Bend – Mishawaka Board of Realtors. If a home is listed for sale, this is an easy way to see 12 photos of it (the current limit in our MLS) and basic property information. The Realst8.com MLS search is better than most with map-based searches, simple navigation and we don’t require registration.

Realst8.com IDX Screenshot

I could write tips and tricks for each site but the best way to learn them is to dive in and start searching. With just a few minutes of practice, you’ll be able to dig up some basic data on most any property in South Bend. Just remember, it will take much longer to understand the context of the data:

  • Is this a “good” price?
  • How does it compare to the neighboring homes?
  • What are the most common flaws with properties from this builder/of this style/era?
  • Does this property manifest any evidence of those flaws?
  • What was on and near this site before it was developed (a cornfield/golf course/EPA superfund site)?
  • and so on…

Happy searching. If you’d like guidance, contact us. If we can’t take you past the simple data to a better understanding of your options, including their benefits and drawbacks, we won’t waste your time. But if you’re looking in one of the markets we serve:  South Bend, Mishawaka, Granger and (near) Notre Dame, we should talk.

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