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: http://irishcrossingstownhomes.com.