Near Northwest Neighborhood Homes

by Nick Molnar on March 19, 2010

On this web-site, I often write about homes that are expensive for the area. But one of the draws of South Bend is that it doesn’t have the housing prices of Boston or San Francisco… there are homes available at almost every price point from $5,000 to $2,000,0000.

As you would expect, most homes at the lowest price points have flaws. But there are exceptions. Notably, non-profit agencies can offer surprising deals. And the Near Northwest Neighborhood Association is one that does.

The Near Northwest Neighborhood Association works only in a defined location, but offers what might be the best homes for the price available in or near South Bend. There is a catch – to buy the homes you have to meet income guidelines which are currently $14,500 to $38,650 for a family of two. The homes also carry deed restrictions so when you sell one, your buyer must meet the income guidelines in place at the time of the sale. Finally, you must live in the house – you can’t buy it and rent it out.

The Near Northwest Neighborhood Association rehabs several homes each year, and sells them below cost in an effort to draw long term residents to the neighborhoods. They do nice work and go far beyond carpet and paint; the homes have new mechanicals, new windows, tile and wood floors and updated electrical service. Graduate students often qualify for the homes, and more than a few of the rehabbed homes have sold to families furthering their education at local institutions.

Currently, the Near Northwest Neighborhood Association has five homes for sale in their boundaries:

My pick of their current batch for sale is 508 Lindsey. It has four bedrooms plus an office and is across the street from a firehouse that has been converted to stage for the South Bend Civic Theater. It also has the shortest period with deed restrictions, which last five years at this house. The other homes have 15 year deed restrictions.

The homes are in an urban setting and won’t work for everyone. Some don’t have garages and others are next to less attractive homes. But they are generally large homes in excellent condition. They are also priced low enough to raise eyebrows. Students who don’t want to remain sequestered near campus might do well to consider them.

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Irish Eyes March 19, 2010 at 4:19 pm

After say 5 years, why would there be a deed restriction regarding a buyer’s income….I’d think that the area should welcome people who make more money instead of keeping them out. 15 years is a long time. The question for me would be, would I want to buy next to a home that I know can only be owned and occupied by people don’t earn a lot of money and that that can’t change for 15 years? Incomes drive home prices, by keeping incomes down that puts a ceiling on price appreciation. Buying a home for many is a big investment, if not the biggest financial decision of their lives, hence I could see where the restriction would deter people from buying next door… The pictures show the rehab was nicely done.


Pam Adams March 19, 2010 at 5:05 pm

The income requirements are for median income in St Joseph Co, not low income. The federal monies for this program would not be available to complete these homes if buyers above the income limits were allowed to purchase. The important deed restriction is , owner occupied buyers. The program encourages more owners, not renters for the neighborhood. Near Northwest Neighborhood is a strong neighborhood organization with many events that the residents enthusiastically participate in throughout the year. And the houses are beautiful.


Irish Eyes March 19, 2010 at 6:01 pm

Pam Adams – I understand there is government money involved and restrictions that are attached to that money. My point is, the unintended consequences of a program such as this…15 years is a long time and may stagnate the area. The federal government meddling in housing has caused grave distortions in the market with very bad unintended consequences…be it income tax deductions for mortgage interest, HELOC interest deductions, no income tax on gains up to $xxx, home improvement credits, Freddie, Fannie, you name it. I understand that the neighborhood organization is simply taking advantage of the federal government programs for what it perceives as a good thing. Meanwhile, the city of South Bend gets federal grants to bulldoze dozens (or is it hundreds) of homes over the next 5+ years. I just don’t agree with the role of the federal government in this local real estate matter. I applaud the efforts of the neighborhood organization to clean up the area but I just don’t agree that the federal government should be allocating tax dollars to assist in what is clearly a local issue. If local people don’t think private money should be invested into this real estate, why should the federal government allocate money to it? It distorts the allocation of capital and we’ve had 50 years of investing way too much capital into housing because of the federal government’s market distortions.


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