Vacant Lots: City-Owned
State law outlines procedures for disposing of property owned by local government. These procedures vary considerably based on several factors. One factor is which entity of the City of South Bend owns the property—the Board of Public Works, the Redevelopment Commission, the Redevelopment Authority, or the Park & Recreation Department. Once you’ve identified that the property is owned by the City*, we suggest emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or calling our Department of Community at 574-235-5821 for assistance. They will then let you know how to proceed. The process can take at least three months to complete.
One of the most frequent requests is to purchase a vacant lot abutting one’s own property. If the property in question is owned by the Board of Public Works, has an assessed value of less than $6,000 and the abutting property owner is current on all property taxes s/he owns, this can be a relatively easy process—though we do need to follow certain procedures as follows
- Complete attached application and mail to:
- Clerk, Board of Public Works 1300 County-City Building 227 W. Jefferson Blvd. South Bend, IN 46601
- Application sent by Clerk of the Board to various City departments for review and recommendation.
- The City will perform the following functions:
- Determines which process must be followed for the property of interest.
- Determines if an appraisal is required (only if assessed over $6,000.)
- Obtains appraisal if necessary.
- Determines if applicant is current on property taxes.
- Informs applicant of minimum bid required for the sale of the property.
- Request for bids advertised in newspaper.
- Notice sent to abutting property owners.
- Sealed bids received from interested parties.
- Determination of sale to most appropriate bidder (might not be applicant with initial interest). A preference is given to abutting landowners.
- Purchase Agreement and Award Letter sent to successful bidder.
- Clerk of the Board receives signed Purchase Agreement and payment from successful bidder.
- City prepares and records deed and mails deed to successful bidder.
*To find property owner of record, you may want to use www.Macoggis.com or contact County Assessor for assistance.
Who Owns the Property? Search Here
Search St. Joseph County Parcel Search for property ownership:
1. Click: St. Joseph County Parcel Search
2. Under Prop. Address: Type in the Street and wait for the list of available addresses and click on the address
3. At the bottom left of the page Click on Search for Parcels
4. Click on Print Report then Click here your information will become available.
How am I able to buy an abandoned property or vacant lot?
Currently there are two ways to acquire a property:
- Contact the owner and reach an agreement (*See St. Joseph County Parcel Search) OR
- Through the St. Joseph County Tax Sale or Commissioner's Certificate Sales
- Prior to purchasing/bidding on any property, you should contact the Department of Code Enforcement to find out if there are any housing violations with the proprerty BEFORE you bid on it. You may be bidding on a property that has an affirmed demolition order.
Contact Code Enforcement at: 574-235-9846 or visit us at: County/City Buidling 227 W. Jefferson Blvd. South Bend, IN 46601, Suite 1300
Property Tax Sale
Within the State of Indiana, when property taxes or special assessments from the prior installments are delinquent, the property becomes eligible for the county tax sale. Counties may conduct up to one tax sale during each tax year. These sales are typically held in the fall. Tax Sales, and all eligible properties, are advertised in advance of the day of the sale.
Tax Sales are an open auction format. The minimum bid is advertised and is the lowest amount that can be accepted by law. The bidder, or her authorized representative, must attend the public auction to bid on properties. Purchases are not permitted by mail, phone, or fax. The winning bidder will be awarded a Tax Sale Certificate based upon the highest bid and the satisfactory form of payment. All sales are final. Buyers are obligated to pay within 24 hours of award by certified funds accompanied by the tax sale certificate.
The original property owner retains ownership for a one year redemption period following tax sale. This redemption period permits the original owner to pay all delinquent taxes and associated penalties plus an additional 10 % and additional costs that go to the bidder.
It is important to know that until a lien buyer (successful bidder) is issued a tax deed for the property pursuant to a court order, he or she does not have any right to either take possession of or secure the property (except what is permitted under the Good Samaritan Law). If the lien buyer enters the premises before he or she is issued a tax deed, the lien buyer is trespassing. Also, no liens or encumbrances are extinguished by virtue of a county tax sale. The event that may potentially extinguish various liens and encumbrances is the issuance of a tax deed. A tax deed executed under State of Indiana Code vests in the grantee an estate of fee simple absolute, free and clear of all liens and encumbrances created or suffered before or after the tax sale, except for those items granted priority under federal law, and the lien of the state or a political subdivision for taxes and special assessments that accrue subsequent to the sale. However, the estate is subject to all easements, covenants, declarations, and other deed restrictions and land use; including all zoning restrictions and liens and encumbrances created or suffered by the purchaser at the tax sale.
County Commissioners’ Certificate Sale
The Board of County Commissioners is issued a tax sale certificate for all parcels not sold at the county tax sale giving them the same rights as a lien buyer. The County Commissioners may decide to sell a certificate to the highest bidder for less than the amount previously offered at the tax sale based on the minimum bid. The main difference between a tax sale and a commissioners’ certificate sale is that the redemption period is 120 days, and minimum bids may be reduced.
Prior to purchasing property via tax sale or commissioners’ certificate sale, consultation with an attorney or another tax sale professional is strongly encouraged.
Additional details about the tax sale and county commissioners’ certificate sale process are available by contacting the St. Joseph County Treasurer at 574.235.9531 or SRI (the company which conducts the sales for St. Joseph County).
Donate a Property
Have you acquired an abandoned property in order to help with the problem, but don’t know what to do with it? Do you own a property that has become a financial burden? One option is to consider donating the property to the City of South Bend.
The Property Donation Program is meant to:
- Provide the property owner an opportunity to:
- Avoid the costs of improving the property to meet City code;
- Avoid the expense of securing a vacant building;
- Eliminate the need to maintain insurance (fire and liability);
- Eliminate property taxes;
- Avoid the problem of trespassing;
- Avoid the cost of spraying for weeds, maintaining trees / shrubs and cutting grass.
- Provide an opportunity to eliminate the financial burden associated with property ownership.
- Offer the opportunity to improve and maintain property in the City of South Bend.
- Offer the opportunity to improve the quality of life in neighborhoods.
If you are interested in donating a property, review the Property Donation Guidelines then complete and submit the Property Donation Form. Once a completed donation form is received, city staff will review the property relative to available resources and current priorities then inform the owner if the property is accepted.
NOTE: *Submission of a donation form does not guarantee that the City will take ownership of the property. The donation form is a request to the City of South Bend to accept a property donation. The City reserves the right to deny any and all requests.
For more information contact: Department of Community Investment: email@example.com
Other Properties Available in the City
There is a Sheriff Sale held in the County/City Building at 227 W. Jefferson Blvd. South Bend IN 46601 at 10 am on Thursdays in the Lobby.
For more information: www.sjcpd.org or 574-245-6540