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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South Bend Real Estate Report: July 2010

by Nick Molnar on August 4, 2010

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

  • 213 residential properties were sold
  • 267 residential properties went under contract
  • 474 residential properties were newly listed or re-listed for sale (that is not a count of all homes for sale, just those listed in July. There are 2,563 homes listed for sale in the SB MLS as I write this)

The 213 sales add up to $23.49 million in volume. That is about 42% less than June 2010 (the previous month) and about 20% less than July 2009 (one year ago).

Here is the long term graph

Real Estate Sales by Volume in the South Bend Area MLS

Real Estate Sales Prices

The high price sale was 51483 Megan Court in Granger’s Shamrock Hills. It sold for $655,000 on July 19th. It was listed for sale on July 17th, 2006 for $849,900, and was priced at $669,900 at the time of sale.

51483 Megan Court in Shamrock Hills, Granger, Indiana

The most active high price neighborhood was Granger’s Covington Shores, which accounted for five of the ten most expensive sales in July:

  • 51265 Amesbury Way at $500,000 on July 23rd.
  • 51357 Carrigan Way at $494,000 on July 6th.
  • 51276 Leeward Point at $370,000 on July 9th.
  • 51223 Leeward Point at $353,500 on July 9th.
  • 14236 Parkridge Drive at $353,000 on July 29th.

There were 19 sales that closed above $250,000 and 79 sales that closed under $50,000.

Here is every sales price for the month, at a glance:

Real Estate Sales Prices for July 2010 in and near South Bend, IN

Financing

Cash sales led to the greatest number of sales, but conventional financing led to the greatest volume of sales. FHA loans were third by both counts,while VA and other types of financing accounted for a small number and volume of sales.

Real Estate sales by type of financing: South Bend Area, July 2010

Notre Dame Condos

The Notre Dame condo market this month is almost completely inactive within the MLS. In the MLS, there were no Notre Dame condos reported sold, and only two went under contract:

  • 2010 Bridgeview in New London Lakes, priced at $90,000
  • 1428 Marigold #105 in the North Shore Club, priced at $61,600

But that does not mean the market is gone. There have been a number of new construction condos that sold directly from the developer to the purchaser, outside of the MLS which only reports sales that involved a Realtor. I have the deeds for two sales that occurred in July and for 15 that have already closed during the calendar year 2010 – all expensive, newly built condos or townhomes that don’t register in the MLS statistics.

I’ll write a useful summary of the Notre Dame condo market once I gather a few more pieces of data and take some time to compare it to years past.  Until then, if you are in the Notre Dame condo market, it might be smart to find an advocate who is not affiliated with any specific project, but familiar with each of them.  You might start with a quick e-mail to me.

New Construction

I found four new construction sales for July in the MLS:

  • 18487 Summer Wind in South Bend’s Fernwood neighborhood: listed 6/3/2010 at $274,900 sold on 7/2 for $255,000. It was built by Alway Development Corp.
  • 18090 Balston Circle in South Bend’s Georgetown North neighborhood: listed 5/14/2010 at $232,900 sold on 7/14 for $232,900. It was built by Bayman and Rusk.
  • 1440 Slater Drive in South Bend’s Lafayette Falls subdivision: listed 10/27/2009 at $199,900 sold on 7/16 for $195,000 with $5,012 in seller concessions. It was built by Weiss Homes.
  • 5636  N 300 E in LaPorte: sold unfinished and “as is” for $185,000. It was listed 3/9/2010 at $240,000.

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.

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South Bend Real Estate Sales Report: June 2010

by Nick Molnar on July 13, 2010

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

  • 345 residential properties were sold
  • 293 residential properties went under contract
  • 545 residential properties were newly listed or re-listed for sale (that is not a count of all homes for sale, just those listed in June)

The 345 sales add up to $40.18 million in volume. That is about 13% greater than May 2010 (the previous month) and about 30% greater than June 2009 (one year ago)

Here is the long term graph

Sales Prices

The high price sale was 51795 Ashton Court in Granger’s Woodland Hills. It was listed for $1.89 million in January 2010 and sold for $1.35 million on June 30th. It previously sold for $1.75 million, in December 2007. That makes it the highest price sale in the South Bend MLS since June of 2008, when 51284 Shamrock Hills Drive sold for $1.4 million.

Here is every sales price for the month, at a glance

Financing

FHA loans accounted for the greatest number of sales and the second highest volume. Conventional mortgages accounted for nearly as many sales, and the highest sales volume. Cash sales continue to as an important, if lesser, market force and VA / other financing has yet to develop to more than a fraction of the market.

Notre Dame condos

  • 1504 Oakhill Drive, a 2 bedroom + loft, 2 bath second floor condo at Oak Hill (no garage).  Listed for $181,900 in April 2008, it sold for $125,000 on June 25th. It previously sold for $107,500 in May 2004.
  • 1564 Wildflower Way at the North Shore Club with 3 bedrooms and 2.5 baths. Listed for $129,000 in April 2010, it sold for $123,500 on June 30th. It previously sold for $112,650 in December 2005
  • 1446 Bridgewater Way at The Forest with 3 bedrooms + a loft and 2.5 baths. Listed for $164,900 in March 2010, it sold for $150,000 on June 11th. It previously sold for $156,000 in June 2004 and $150,000 in February 2003
  • 118 Clancey Street, a furnished townhouse in Dublin Village with 4 bedrooms, 3.5 baths . Listed for $295,000 in February 2009, it sold for $220,000 on June 4th. It previously sold for $261,754, making the sale a loss of about 16% before expenses

New Construction

This continues to be a slow segment of the market, as reported through the MLS. I found 9 sales by Weiss homes and one by Place Builders that appear to be new construction. Prices ranged from $109,999 to $233,143. Six were financed with FHA loans, three were cash sales and one buyer obtained a conventional mortgage.

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 real estate brokers behind the South Bend Area Real Estate Blog, please contact us.

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There are five developments near the University of Notre Dame that offer recently-built, high-end condos or townhomes. Reflecting the best traits of a competitive market, each boasts a different blend of attractive features and not-so-nice details. One has a large deck but the parking situation is poor. Another has gated parking but the units are shallow so the kitchen is on a different floor than the main living space. With every condo, you trade features… even if it’s no more than the classic trade of price for size.

Since each person has different priorities, there is no single “best” condo for everyone. But Irish Crossings Delaney units are a must see for anyone considering a Notre Dame condo in the $300,000 to $500,000 price range.

The arguments for Irish Crossing’s Delaneys are simple and strong:

  • These are large spaces. At 2,610 square feet with 4 or 3 bedrooms and 4.5 baths they compare favorably to the competition.
  • Parking is great: they have attached 2-car garages and two additional parking spaces in the drive.
  • They overlook a water feature with two fountains. Irish Crossings is not as densely built as many other complexes, leaving space for a scenic water feature.
  • There are only three units per building, creating more end units and fewer shared walls. This adds to privacy and lessens noise from neighboring units.
  • They offer two outdoor spaces: a deck off the kitchen and a patio off the lower level. Compare this to another complex where if you want to tailgate, you need to do it in the garage, and then have to find alternate parking outside of the development.
  • And, in my mind, most compelling of all…You don’t enter to a staircase. Townhomes are designed to have a minmal footprint, that’s why they are built where land is expensive. And, at most Notre Dame townhomes you enter into a stairwell. In one, you even climb a staircase to reach the front door, then enter into another stairwell to reach the living space. The difference is important not only in the total number steps climbed, but in the feeling you get when you open the door. Compare the photos below, each taken within steps of entering. Which do you find more welcoming?

Entry to Wexford Place, a Notre Dame condo Entry to Irish Crossings Delaney, a Notre Dame condo

Once you evaluate the options, if you decide you want an Irish Crossings Delaney, you currently have three options:

  • The builder’s model unit, site 231. Priced at $467,826.
  • An unfinished unit, site 221.  Likely price, $400,000 to $480,000, depending on the options and upgrades you select. This unit is roughly two months from completion.
  • 54662 Irish Crossings Lane, site 183. Priced at $420,000 with nearly every upgrade the builder offers.

editors update:  As of 07/19/2010 sites 231 and 221 are under contract and off the market.

And of the three, 54662 Irish Crossings Lane is the best buy. The current owners bought it in February 2008 for $472,144. That was the second most expensive sale in Irish Crossings. The price was high because the townhouse is posh with $100,000 worth of upgrades:  it’s an end unit with a sunroom, fireplace, lower level wet-bar, entertainment systems on the main floor and lower level, granite counters throughout, wrought iron balusters on the stairs, upgraded cabinetry in the kitchen, custom wood floors, and much more.

Past that, the sellers put over $10,000 in furniture into 54662 Irish Crossings Lane and can sell it furnished.

54662 Irish Crossings Lane is on the completed side of the Irish Crossings complex, so you won’t live next to construction. It’s finished and furnished so moving in, or preparing it for periodic use will be painless. And there is no risk that it won’ be completed by the first home football game.

If you’re in the market for a luxury condo near Notre Dame’s campus, you should see 54662 Irish Crossings Lane. Start with the slideshow below, then call to see it in person.

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South Bend Real Estate Sales Report: May 2010

by Nick Molnar on June 6, 2010

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

  • 285 residential properties were sold
  • 208 residential properties went under contract
  • 471 properties were newly listed or re-listed for sale (that is not a count of all homes for sale, just those listed in May)

The 285 sales add up to $35.58 million in volume. That is about 29% greater than the sales volume for April 2010 and 33% greater than the sales total from a year ago in May 2009.

Sales Prices

The high price sale was 11192 Pierce Road in Wakarusa, a farmhouse on 78 acres which sold for $680,000. For homes without such substantial land value, sales peaked at  $607,000 for 51285 Shannon Brook Court in the Shamrock Hills neighborhood of Granger. The home was listed for sale for $761,250 in August 2009 and previously sold for $725,000 in August of 2006 and $565,000 in February of 2003. Shamrock Hills also had last month’s high priced sale.

Other high price sales included 18230 Gilmore Drive in South Bend’s Bradford Shores, at $580,401 and three sales in Granger’s Woodland Hills:

  • 16771 Orchard Ridge at $500,000 with $5,000 in seller concessions
  • 51410 Hidden Pines Court at $465,000
  • 16795 Woodland Hills Drive at $465,000

That is substantial activity for the neighborhood of about 100 homes and more sales than Woodland Hills saw in all of 2009. Woodland Hills currently has nine homes listed for sale, priced from $385,000 to $1.89 million.

There were nine sales under $10,000 and 51 sales under $50,000.

Financing

FHA loans again accounted for the greatest number of sales though conventional financing accounted for more than half of the sales volume for May. Cash sales were a significant market force, and VA loans and other financing continue to play small roles in sales through the MLS.

Notre Dame Area condos

The Notre Dame condo market remains soft on sales, though interest seems to have increased compared to past months.  There were four notable sales:

  • 1407 Oak Hill Drive sold for $135,000. It was listed for sale in April of 2009 at $184,900 and previously sold for $143,500 in February of 2005 after trying asking prices as high as $235,000. It is a first floor plus finished lower level unit with 950 square feet on each floor and four total bedrooms (including the lower level) and 3 baths.  It was updated with granite counters and bamboo floors, and had a deck and garage.
  • 18418 Killeen Court at Ivy Quad sold for $385,000. It is the mid-sized unit at the complex, “the Ardeen.” It is a newly built 2,800 square foot 4 bedroom, 2.5 bath townhouse.
  • 926 Keenan Court sold for $155,000. It was first listed for sale January 2008 for $175,029. It is a 1,760 square foot condo with 3 bedrooms and 2.5 baths. It was built in 2007 but hasn’t been occupied.
  • 5625 Irish Way #7 at the North Douglas Condos sold for $137,900. It is a 1,189 square foot 2 bedroom, 2 bath condo and the first sale in the project since a new investor took control of the development. It is in building 1, which was completed 2007/8.

New Construction

I count eight May sales in the MLS that appear to be new construction (not counting the Notre Dame condos detailed above). Notably,

  • The most expensive is 18230 Gilmore Drive in South bend’s Bradford Shores. Built by Century Builders, the 2,782 square foot + finished lower level 3 bedroom, 3+2 bath home sold for $580,401.
  • Weiss homes sold four houses, at $166,945, $160,000, $149,000 and $128,432.

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 real estate brokers behind the South Bend Area Real Estate Blog, please contact us.

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