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Iowa is located in the Midwestern United States, and it is the 26th largest state by total area. It is a very diverse state that has many different economic influences. You'll find sprawling farmlands, suburbs, and up and coming cities. The state ranks as the thirtieth largest state by population with an estimated population of 3,134,693 as of 2016.
The state of Iowa, which sits in the middle of America on top of rich soil, is normally thought of as a land dedicated to farming. What many people do not realize is that beyond farming, Iowa is a very dynamic state which boasts some rapidly growing cities which depend on many different industries including the farming, manufacturing, insurance, and healthcare. Because of the state’s overall healthy economy and low unemployment rate, Iowa has had one of the most stable real estate markets over the past decade. Compared to other states, Iowa has very low levels of foreclosure and the overall housing prices across the state’s major metro areas remained quite steady throughout the recovery from the Great Recession.
The local living depends on where you choose to settle. You can live in one of the several rapidly growing cities and be surrounded by all of the quirks and charms that come with it including a diverse job market, fast-paced living, and nightlife. You also have the option to live in some of the smaller communities where it's more laid back, or you can choose a rural area and have gorgeous views.
People move to Iowa for the lower cost of living and the strong economy. Additionally, the housing market is one of the most stable in the nation, and it can be relatively inexpensive to purchase a home depending on what county you settle in. The growth of the cities and the business opportunities also draw people to Iowa.
People move out of Iowa because they're looking for places that offer more opportunity, whether that is job or recreational. While there are jobs, there may not be as many high career and high paying jobs as young people would like, and this can send them looking else-wear for better opportunities.
People who want a stable place to live with a decent paying job tend to find Iowa an attractive state to live in. Additionally, people who are at retirement age and want to downsize are also moving into the state. The broad range of living choices is an attractive pull for people, as they can typically pick and choose what type of town, city, or rural area they'd like to stay in.
Throughout the housing market crash, Iowa fared exceptionally well when you compare this state to the national average. While the state did deal with falling house prices, it did so in more of a gradual decline than a steep drop. In 2008, Iowa saw the first peak in the housing market followed by a slight drop that recovered quickly, and it went on to hit one final peak at the start of 2009. Once it hit the 2009 peak, the housing market began a slow, gradual incline with a few small peaks.
In 2011, Iowa's housing market hit its lowest point, and it began to recover slowly. The end of 2011 saw a slight increase which dropped back down again by 2012. This pattern continued until the start of 2014 when the housing market picked up and started to go up at a quicker rate. It is important to note that even with these peaks and drops, the housing market was already in better shape in 2013 than it was before the housing market crash. Today, Iowa as a whole is faring much better, and the statewide housing market continues to rise at a brisk pace.
During the time of the housing market crash, Des Moines didn't fare as well as the state as a whole. The city had its first slight drop in 2005, and this recovered until 2007 when it had its first drop in the sinking housing market. It recovered slightly until the start of 2008; then it saw another sharp drop that lasted until the start of 2009 when it peaked one final time.
After this final peak, Des Moines experienced a rocky descent marked by a few drops and peaks until it hit its lowest point at the start of 2011. The end of 2011 saw another peak that dropped off once again, and the market really didn't start to improve until the middle of 2013. From 2013 until 2016, the city had a few peaks and plateaus, but the market has been climbing steadily since early 2016. As with Iowa, Des Moines housing market was doing better by 2014 than it was before the housing market crashed.
The most expensive area in the state is Jackson County, which is near the Quad Cities and has an average for sale price of $300,000. In several rural areas across the state, single family homes can often be found for under $75,000. Overall, the most expensive areas of the state are near the Quad Cities and near Des Moines, IA.
Overall, the state of Iowa has a median home value of about $130,000. These figures are similar when compared to other Midwestern states such as Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska, and Kentucky. Iowa’s median prices are less than the national average, which has a median sales price of just over $203,000.
By 1990, Iowa's housing market was beginning to climb at a steady pace. This continued until the middle of 1994 when the market saw a slight increase that was closely followed by a short plateau. From the start of 1995 until 1999, the housing market resumed its steady climb with no major drops or peaks.
This changed slightly from 2000 to 2005, when the market began to experience slight drops and peaks in 2002, 2003, and 2005. This lasted until 2006 when the market plateaued, and this continued until it hit its first peak at the start of 2008. The market dropped quickly after this first peak only to peak again for one last time in early 2009.
From 1984 to 1992 Iowa's homeownership rate fell from 71.3% to 66.3%. Throughout the 1990s boom homeownership climbed to a peak of 76.6% in 2001. In the 15 years since the homeownership rate has slid back to 70%.
Overall, the state of Iowa has just over 3 million residents, making it the 30th most populated state in the country. The largest employment sectors in Iowa are agriculture and manufacturing. Much of Iowa’s land is dedicated to fields for farming and raising pork. The largest agricultural outputs in Iowa are pork, eggs, corn, soybeans, oats, and cattle.
While Iowa’s manufacturing industry is the state’s largest industry, it is quite reliant on the agriculture business. 16% of Iowa’s workforce is dedicated to manufacturing, which largely includes food processing of foods grown in the state.
|IA Rank||US Rank||Metropolitan Area||2016 Pop||2010 Pop||Change||% △|
|1||59||Omaha-Council Bluffs, NE-IA Metro Area||924,129||865,350||58,779||6.79%|
|2||89||Des Moines-West Des Moines||634,725||569,633||65,092||11.43%|
|3||138||Davenport-Moline-Rock Island, IA-IL Metro Area||382,268||379,690||2,578||0.68%|
|6||250||Sioux City, IA-NE-SD Metro Area||169,140||168,563||577||0.34%|
|10||528||Fort Madison-Keokuk, IA-IL-MO Micro Area||59,846||62,105||-2,259||-3.64%|
|13||620||Burlington, IA-IL Micro Area||46,608||47,656||-1,048||-2.20%|
Iowa is a state that has several unique cities, and some of its cities have been ranked as being some of the fastest-growing in the nation. The way the state survived the housing market crash and the strength of the economy plays a contributing roll in these city's' popularity.
The largest city in Iowa is Des Moines with a population of 215,472 as of 2016. Des Moines also functions as the capital city of Iowa. Des Moines is part of the larger Des Moines-West Des Moines Metropolitan area, and it has a combined population of 634,725 people. This population ranks Des Moines as the eighty-ninth largest metro in the United States. Additionally, this city has been called one of the best spots for insurance agency headquarters in the nation.
There are several different large insurance company headquarters stationed here, and this helps to influence the local economy. Healthcare is also another large pillar of the economy, and there are a few Fortune 500 companies here as well. Additionally, there is a large business district that attracts entrepreneurs and working professionals. Des Moines is the financial capital of the state and is headquarters of several major corporations including Principal Financial and the Meredith Corporation. Several other major corporations including Wells Fargo, ING, and Nationwide Insurance, have major hubs in Des Moines. Downtown Des Moines has been revitalized in recent years and many young professionals have moved into downtown condos to take advantage of the cities amenities.
The overall Des Moines metro area has grown considerably over the past few years. The 5 county area which makes up the Des Moines metro area has grown by over 65,000 residents since 2010. Much of this is due to urban sprawl as many homebuilders have developed communities in the Des Moines suburbs.
People who live or visit Des Moines will experience a humid continental climate with hot, humid summer months and cold, snowy winters. There are four distinct seasons, and summer months from June until September. Temperatures usually reach between the high-80s and low 90s during this time.
Fall brings cooler temperatures and rain that fades into the colder, snowy winter months. Winter typically lasts from November until March, and temperatures stay in the mid-20s. Spring brings warmer temperatures, rain, and thunderstorms.
Des Moines is considered to be the cultural center for the state of Iowa, and there are several events, museums, and performing art groups. A huge tourist draw is the Des Moines Performing Arts that routinely hosts a variety of Broadway shows and plays. You can also take in a performance by the Des Moines Ballet, or attend the annual Jazz in July festival. If you like plants and flowers, you can take an afternoon and visit the Greater Des Moines Botanical Gardens.
The city is served by the Des Moines Public School System, and there are over 36,000 students currently enrolled. There are 63 schools total in this public district, and it includes 38 elementary schools, 11 middle schools, 5 high schools, and 9 special schools and programs. There is one main campus and three other four-year private colleges here including the Des Moines University and Grand View University.
As we stated earlier, Des Moines is an epicenter for the insurance and finance sector, so it makes sense that the largest employer would be Wells Fargo with over 13,400 employees. The second and third-largest employers in the state are both based in the healthcare industry. The second-largest employer is Mercy Medical Center with 7,300 employees. The third-largest employee in the city is UnityPoint Health with 6,320 staff members.
The economic sector is strong in Des Moines, and the unemployment rate falls well below the national average. There was also recent job growth that put an even bigger gap between the national average and the city's unemployment rate. Looking forward, the city plans to add over 30% more jobs in the coming decade.
In the past year, Des Moines has seen its housing market go up by over 3.8%, and the local median housing price is currently hovering around $125,600. It has a price per square foot of $120, and these figures are projected to increase by 3.9% in the next year. In the Des Moines Metro area, the local median housing price has risen by 2.6% in the past year to put it around $171,000. The price per square foot is $146, and it is predicted these prices will rise by another 3.5% by the end of next year.
Cedar Rapids claims the spot of the second-largest city in Iowa with a population of 131,127 as of 2016. This city is part of the larger Cedar Rapids Metropolitan area, and the combined population as of 2016 was 267,799. Cedar Rapids is unique in the fact that it is one of the few cities in the world that has its government offices on a municipal island.
The local economy is heavily influenced by the agriculture sector, and it is one of the biggest cities in the world for the corn processing industry. There are also several large Fortune 500 companies headquartered here. Finally, the healthcare and transportation industries round out the top pillars of this economy. It is seen as a very stable and growing economy.
You'll experience a humid continental climate in this city, and it has four distinct seasons. The summer months bring hot and humid temperatures with thunderstorms and temperatures ranging in the mid-80s. The winter months are long, snowy, and very cold with temperatures hanging around the upper teens and low 20s.
There are several cultural events and museums spaced around the city of Cedar Rapids, and this helps to draw tourists through this city each year. The Cedar Rapids Museum of Art has the largest collection of paintings by artist Grant Wood in the world. You can also visit the Paramount Theatre for a variety of concerts, plays, and symphonies. There are also several sports teams and parks to visit and watch minor league games.
The Cedar Rapids Community School District has over 17,263 students enrolled, and it is the largest school district in the city. Students also have their choice of two different four-year colleges. Mount Mercy University and Coe College offer a variety of programs for students to choose from.
The largest employer in Cedar Rapids is a Fortune 500 company that employes over 8,500 people and it's called Rockwell Collins. The second-largest employer is the shipping industry company Transamerica with over 3,800 employees. The third-largest employer belongs to the healthcare sector, and St. Luke's Hospital employs over 3,100 people.
The economy is stable, but it appears to be backsliding a little recently. The unemployment rate is below the national average, but the job market hasn't grown or added any new jobs this year either. This may look up over the next ten years because it is projected that the economy will get over 35% more jobs.
The local median home price is currently $133,200, and this number has risen by over 8% in the last year. It is also projected to rise by over 3% in the coming year. The local median home price for the Cedar Rapids metro area is $154,650. This has also gone up 6.3% in the past year.
The third-largest city in the state of Iowa is Davenport, and as of 2016, it had a population of 102,612. This city is also part of the Davenport-Moline-Rock Island, IA-IL Metro Area, and the combined population of these areas was 382,268. This population makes the Quad Cities the 90th largest metro area in the nation.
The manufacturing industry dominates this city's economy, and several prominent stores have their headquarters here as well. This works to create a steady economy with a variety of jobs that are both high paying and normal waged. The cost of living is lower here, and this works in the economy's favor as people are more prone to stay around.
Downtown Davenport has several interesting places to visit year round. The Figge Art Museum draws a lot of residents and tourists all year. The Quad City Symphony Orchestra also puts on several performances every week. For anyone who wants to experience the more historical aspects of the city, there are several historical landmarks and the German American Heritage Center.
The Davenport Public School System serves this city, and it is the second-largest school system in the state. There are nearly 17,000 students enrolled annually. Students can choose from four different colleges and universities including Palmer Chiropractic College and Saint Ambrose University.
The largest employer in Davenport is John Deere with over 7,200 employees. The second-largest employer is the U.S. Army's Rock Island Arsenal, and they have 5,600 staff members. Finally, the third-largest employer in the city is Genesis Health System, and they currently have around 4,800 people on their staff.
Despite the fact that there are several prominent employers in Davenport, the unemployment rate is higher than the national average. Additionally, recent job growth has slowed in the recent years, and this can contribute to the higher unemployment rate. Jobs are projected to rise by over 30% in the next ten years, so this may help the local economy.
Davenport has a median local home price of $124,400, and this represents an increase of 4.8% in the past year. The price per square foot is $119. These figures are projected to rise by another 4.5% in the coming year. The Davenport Metro area has a current median local home price of $120,700 and a price per square foot of $110.
The fourth-largest city in the state of Iowa is Sioux City with a population of 82,872 people. There are several cultural points of interest located throughout this city, and the city and the surrounding area is affectionately nicknamed Siouxland. This city is also part of the Sioux City, IA-NE-SD Metro Area, and the combined population was 169,140 in 2016.
There are several sectors that combine to make up the economic support in this city. The education sector is a large contributor along with the industrial sector and the healthcare sector. Combined, the top three employers in the city employ over 8,000 Sioux City residents.
The city enjoys a humid continental climate with hot, humid summers and cold, dry winter weather. The winter months bring temperatures in the mid-20s and the summer months bring temperatures in the mid-70s. The spring months typically bring rain and thunderstorms to the region.
There are several art and cultural events located throughout this city. The Sioux City Public Museum has exhibits that showcase the rich cultural history of the area. You can also pay a visit to the Sioux City Art Center and see several art mediums from local and regional artists. For any people that are interested in the more historical parts of the city, you can visit the Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center.
The Sioux City Community School District serves over 13,000 students, and it is one of the largest public school systems in the city. There are also a few private schools and higher education opportunities. Briar Cliff University can be found here, along with Western Iowa Tech Community College.
There are several large employers in this city, and the largest is Tyson Fresh Meats with over 4,760 employees. The second-largest employer is Sioux City Community School District and there are over 2,000 staff members. The third-largest employer is Mercy Medical Center, and it employs over 1,750 people.
Sioux City's unemployment rate is far below the national average, and there was job growth in the past year. This trend is projected to continue for the next ten years with a 37% job increase predicted.
The local median home value in Sioux City is right around $110,700. However, this price represents a decrease of -2.9% over the past year. The price per square foot is currently $120. The Sioux City Metro area has a local median home price of $181,000 with a price per square foot of $126.
Iowa City claims the spot of the fifth-largest city in Iowa with a population of 74,398. It is also part of the Iowa City Metro area, and the combined population of these areas is 168,828 people. This city is located in Johnson County, and it is the second capital of the Iowa Territory. Additionally, Iowa City was the first capital city in the state.
Iowa City is home to the University of Iowa, which brings in over 25,000 students each year as well as the state’s largest hospital. Healthcare and education make up the two biggest economic supports in this city, and together they employ over 38,000 people. This city has been ranked as one of the best places for the business sector and one of the best places to start a company.
This city also has a humid continental climate with four distinct seasons. June through August are the hottest months of the year with temperatures hovering around the mid-80s. December through February are the coldest months with temperatures staying around the low-30s. Spring traditionally brings rainfall, warmer weather, and thunderstorms.
There are a variety of art and cultural events that take place throughout this city. The Iowa Avenue Literary Walk pays homage to the city's rich literary history. During the summer months, Iowa City puts on the annual Summer of the Arts program for residents and tourists. Additionally, the city also sponsors the Landlocked Film Festival every year.
The Iowa Community School District serves the city, and it has more than 14,000 students enrolled. Iowa City is home to a few community colleges and universities as well. The University of Iowa is found here, as well as the Kirkwood Community College.
Iowa City is home to the only tertiary medical care center in the state, and it is also the city's biggest employer. The University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics employes over 30,000 people year round. The second-largest employer is the Iowa Community School District with over 1,650 employees. The third-largest employer is also medical based, and it is the Iowa City VA Medical Center with 1,500 employees.
The economy in Iowa City is holding strong, and the unemployment rate is below the national average. Additionally, the job market grew over the past year. This city is also projected to add over 30% more jobs in the coming years, which will function to give the economy another boost.
The current local median home price for Iowa City is $201,800, and this represents an increase of 2% over the past year. The price per square foot is $156, and both of these prices are projected to rise over 5% in the coming year. The Iowa City Metro area has a local median home price of $271,900 and a price per square foot of $126.
As of July 1, 2016 the state of Iowa has an estimated population of 3,134,693 across 55,857.13 mi² yielding a population density of 56.12 people per mi² across the state.
The following table highlights the July 1, 2016 populations of cities & Census Designated Places (CDP) with over 1,000 residents based on United States Census Bureau estimates. For Census Designated Places (CDP) where there was no population estimate available for 2016 the 2011-2015 American Community Survey 5-Year Estimates data was used.
All table columns are sortable. Click on the column headers to sort by that column. Click again to sort low to high. Cities with higher levels of population growth typically see the increased demand drive faster real estate price appreciation.
|Rank||Geography||County||2016 Pop||2010 Pop||Change||% △||Land mi²||Pop Den mi²|
|1||Des Moines||Polk & Warren||215,472||203,433||12,039||5.92%||80.87||2,664.42|
|4||Sioux City||Woodbury & Plymouth||82,872||82,684||188||0.23%||57.35||1,445.02|
|8||West Des Moines||Polk, Dallas & Warren||64,560||56,609||7,951||14.05%||38.59||1,672.97|
|12||Urbandale||Polk & Dallas||43,018||39,463||3,555||9.01%||21.92||1,962.50|
|13||Cedar Falls||Black Hawk||41,390||39,260||2,130||5.43%||28.75||1,439.65|
|16||Mason City||Cerro Gordo||27,430||28,079||-649||-2.31%||27.81||986.34|
|28||Clive||Polk & Dallas||17,546||15,447||2,099||13.59%||7.59||2,311.73|
|32||Grimes||Polk & Dallas||11,909||8,246||3,663||44.42%||11.84||1,005.83|
|35||Storm Lake||Buena Vista||10,773||10,600||173||1.63%||4.08||2,640.44|
|37||Norwalk||Warren & Polk||10,590||8,945||1,645||18.39%||10.74||986.03|
|52||Clear Lake||Cerro Gordo||7,589||7,777||-188||-2.42%||10.8||702.69|
|64||Maquoketa||Jackson & Clinton||5,979||6,141||-162||-2.64%||4.33||1,380.83|
|78||Sheldon||O'Brien & Sioux||5,115||5,188||-73||-1.41%||4.5||1,136.67|
|84||Shenandoah||Page & Fremont||4,972||5,150||-178||-3.46%||3.75||1,325.87|
|93||Carlisle||Warren & Polk||4,249||3,876||373||9.62%||5.56||764.21|
|95||Dyersville||Dubuque & Delaware||4,196||4,058||138||3.40%||5.63||745.29|
|98||Forest City||Winnebago & Hancock||4,013||4,151||-138||-3.32%||4.64||864.87|
|119||West Burlington||Des Moines||2,945||2,968||-23||-0.77%||4.95||594.95|
|122||Wilton||Muscatine & Cedar||2,808||2,802||6||0.21%||1.95||1,440.00|
|125||Jesup||Buchanan & Black Hawk||2,667||2,520||147||5.83%||1.78||1,498.31|
|139||Mitchellville||Polk & Jasper||2,405||2,254||151||6.70%||2.33||1,032.19|
|Park View CDP||Scott||2,438||2,389||49||2.05%||1.06||2,300.00|
|141||West Branch||Cedar & Johnson||2,359||2,322||37||1.59%||3.19||739.50|
|145||Cascade||Dubuque & Jones||2,281||2,159||122||5.65%||1.87||1,219.79|
|146||La Porte City||Black Hawk||2,269||2,285||-16||-0.70%||2.55||889.80|
|154||Postville||Allamakee & Clayton||2,116||2,227||-111||-4.98%||2.11||1,002.84|
|160||Sumner||Bremer & Fayette||1,998||2,028||-30||-1.48%||2.52||792.86|
|176||Durant||Cedar, Scott & Muscatine||1,823||1,832||-9||-0.49%||1.15||1,585.22|
|180||Blue Grass||Scott & Muscatine||1,699||1,452||247||17.01%||2.89||587.89|
|188||Walcott||Scott & Muscatine||1,636||1,629||7||0.43%||3.47||471.47|
|193||Nashua||Chickasaw & Floyd||1,609||1,663||-54||-3.25%||2.88||558.68|
|195||Stuart||Guthrie & Adair||1,589||1,648||-59||-3.58%||2.58||615.89|
|197||Ackley||Hardin & Franklin||1,546||1,589||-43||-2.71%||2.45||631.02|
|208||Walford||Benton & Linn||1,459||1,463||-4||-0.27%||1.11||1,314.41|
|218||Lenox||Taylor & Adams||1,407||1,407||0||0.00%||1.98||710.61|
|219||Granger||Dallas & Polk||1,402||1,244||158||12.70%||1.45||966.90|
|225||Nora Springs||Floyd & Cerro Gordo||1,379||1,431||-52||-3.63%||2.19||629.68|
|229||Maharishi Vedic City||Jefferson||1,310||1,294||16||1.24%||3.36||389.88|
|Lake Panorama CDP||Guthrie||1,097||1,309||-212||-16.20%||6.62||165.71|
|237||Coon Rapids||Carroll & Guthrie||1,261||1,305||-44||-3.37%||1.78||708.43|
|249||Elk Run Heights||Black Hawk||1,129||1,117||12||1.07%||1.06||1,065.09|
|256||Fairbank||Buchanan & Fayette||1,114||1,113||1||0.09%||0.71||1,569.01|
|259||Greene||Butler & Floyd||1,103||1,130||-27||-2.39%||1.14||967.54|
|272||North English||Iowa & Keokuk||1,022||1,041||-19||-1.83%||0.55||1,858.18|
|276||Eddyville||Wapello, Mahaska & Monroe||1,005||1,024||-19||-1.86%||1.18||851.69|
Annual Estimates of the Resident Population: April 1, 2010 to July 1, 2016
Source: U.S. Census Bureau, Population Division
Release Date: May 2017.
As of 2023 the conforming loan limit across the United States is set to $726,200, with a ceiling of 150% that amount in areas where median home values are higher. High local affordability makes the $726,200 ceiling apply statewide for single unit homes. Dual unit homes have a limit of $929,850, triple unit homes have a limit of $1,123,900 & quadruple unit homes have a limit of $1,396,800. Loans above these limits are considered jumbo loans. Jumbo loans typically have a slightly higher rate of interest than conforming mortgages, though spreads vary based on credit market conditions.
Several different types of home loans are available in the Hawkeye State. Fixed-rate loans are very common, and the terms include thirty, twenty, fifteen, and ten years. The longer the life of the mortgage, the lower the monthly payment will be, which is why the 30-year loan is the most popular. The downside of this, however, is that the APR is higher compared to shorter-term loans. The difference can be as large as a full percentage point.
Since Iowa has not experienced a housing meltdown and mortgage crisis like other states, many mortgage lenders are more willing to lend to mortgage borrowers in Iowa than in other states. Mortgage rates in Iowa are often slightly higher than those offered in other areas of the country. The average mortgage rate in Iowa is about 4 basis points higher than the national average. This is slightly attributed to the fact that many homes purchased are part of farming business, which increases the lenders risk. Like most states, the state of Iowa offers multiple mortgage products including 30-year fixed mortgages, 15-year fixed mortgage, and adjustable rate mortgages. For the most part, in Iowa, the mortgage rate spread from one type of mortgage product to the next is similar to those spreads in other states. A 30-year fixed rate mortgage normally has an interest rate 0.75% higher than a 15-year mortgage and 1% higher than an adjustable rate mortgage.
In addition to conventional 30-year and 15-year fixed-rate mortgages, lenders offer a wide variety of adjustable rate mortgages (ARM’s). While these instruments have lost some of their attractiveness during the recession, there are still circumstances where they offer the only way for a borrower to qualify. Properly structured (that is, with strict limits on how much the rate can fluctuate), such loans are still a legitimate way for borrowers to purchase a home and start building equity while establishing their credit so as to qualify for conventional loans upon the ARM’s expiration. These loans provide interest rates that fluctuate, as the name implies. The APR is usually fixed for an initial term, such as three, five, seven or ten years. Then the rate adjusts depending on the performance of a referenced index rate, usually once per year; but it can change more frequently. The loan agreement may state in detail how frequently the APR can change, and it may also include a rate cap to prevent large changes.
Balloon mortgages are another route for aspiring homeowners. Balloon mortgages are when a large portion of the borrowed principle is repaid in a single payment at the end of the loan period. Balloon loans are not common for most residential buyers, but are more common for commercial loans and people with significant financial assets.
A few lenders in the Hawkeye State offer interest-only loans, but usually only for periods of three years. These are mortgages where payments are applied only to interest for a period of time. The loan's principal isn't paid down, so the monthly payments are very low. The low monthly payments only lasts a few years, however. Typically, it's about three years. After this period, monthly payments spike because the loan's principal hasn't been reduced & the remainder of the loan must be paid off in a compressed period of time. For example, on a 3 year IO 30-year loan, the first 3 years are interest only payments, then the loan principal must be paid in full in the subsequent 27 years.
When qualifying for a loan, a credit score of 720 or better can help secure a favorable loan. Some mortgage lenders in the Des Moines area have approved borrowers with credit scores around 640. The best rates and deals will be obtained with a score above 740. There is a lot of competition among lenders, and this environment can create nice perks for borrowers. For example, some banks will offer special deals on closing costs for borrowers who qualify. The cost might be added to the mortgage or the bank will pay the closing costs but add a few basis points to the APR.
A debt-to-income ratio of 40% and a down payment of 20% are what most banks want to see on a home loan application. They will accept worse numbers, but fees and APR's could go up as a result. Also, a down payment of less than 20% typically results in required mortgage insurance. This down payment requirement does not apply for Federal assistance programs such as FHA, in which applicants can have a lower credit score and income but still receive financing.
The piggyback loan is another type of mortgage which is simply two mortgages in one. The piggyback loan can eliminate the need for private mortgage insurance by covering 80% of the home's value with the first loan, while the second loan helps to pay for part of the down payment.
Prospective home buyers who don't find what they're looking for at one of the state's private banks may want to take a look at some of the mortgage options the federal government offers. One of them is the loan program at the Veterans Administration, which provides mortgages with zero down. On top of that great deal, VA loans do not require private mortgage insurance. The agency does, however, charge a funding fee, and this varies from 1.2% to 3.3%. Making a voluntary down payment will reduce this charge. And in case you're wondering, yes you do have to be a qualified veteran to get one of these unbeatable deals.
If you're not a vet, you may want to consider the Federal Housing Administration's home loan services. The FHA offers loans to people who have a credit score of at least 580 and who can put at least 3.5% down. The government agency also offers mortgages for lower credit scores, but it requires more money down with these loans.
USDA loans can help people with low incomes in rural parts of the state qualify for a subsidized low-interest loan. Given the low population density throughout most of the state, most areas qualify.
Iowa is a state that has a few programs that are designed to help people obtain affordable mortgages. These programs can help with downpayment costs, closing costs, or help the buyer find more affordable interest rates.
If you're a first-time homebuyer and you're buying your primary residence in Iowa, you may qualify for the FirstHome Program. The second branch of this program is available to repeat homebuyers who want to buy a primary residence in Iowa, and it's called the Homes for Iowans Program.
The benefits of this program make it worth applying for. You typically get a lower interest rate on your mortgage, no minimum down payment, interest rates won't change based on credit, and borrowers may request to get a free Title Guaranty Owner's Certificate.
There are a few eligibility requirements applicants must meet, and these requirements vary depending on the county you're moving into. So, it's a good idea to check with your local office, but you will have to meet these rough guidelines:
Military Homeownership Assistance Program
This program helps military personnel cover their downpayment costs or their closing costs by giving them up to $5,000. This grant can also be combined with the Plus grant to give home buyers up to $7,500 toward a downpayment or closing costs.
To be considered eligible, a person has to have had 90 active duty days between 1990 to 1991 or 2001 to present day. A person can also be considered as having a federal status injured service person, or if the applicant is a surviving spouse. You also have to get prior approval before you close on a home.
Be sure to research local incentive programs at the county and city level as well.
Homeowner's insurance policies typically do not cover flooding. Most of the state of Iowa is considered to have a very low flooding risk. Counties with relatively elevated risks are listed below.
Home buyers with mortgages in high-risk areas are required to buy flood insurance. Most flood insurance policies are sold by the United States federal government through The National Flood Insurance Program. Under-priced flood insurance in high-risk areas act as a subsidy to wealthy homeowners.
The NFIP does not charge nearly enough to cover the expected costs of its liabilities. The assessments are not sufficient to build any buffer to cover an extraordinary year, such as what occurred with Hurricane Katrina in 2005 or Hurricane Sandy in 2012. Because homeowners don't incur the full cost of building in a flood zone we end up with more houses there than if homeowners incurred the full cost of the flood risk, which exacerbates the government's costs in the next disaster.
Homeowners who live in lower risk areas & are not required to purchase flood insurance heavily cross-subsidize homeowners who are in areas where floods are more common.
Most of the state is considered to have a moderate to high tornado risk. A basic homeowners policy should cover financial damages from tornadoes.
Hail damage is exceptionally common across the state. Damage from hail is typically covered by home insurance policies.
Iowa is ranked as the thirty-sixth state for property tax levels. This adds up to $2,270 per year on average for a home that costs around $158,700. As a percentage of property value, Iowa's property taxes rank at 1.43% compared to a national average of 1.24%.
These property tax levels fluctuate by county with Johnson County collecting the highest property tax rates per year. On average, Johnson County collects around $2,526.00, and this works out to 1.43% of the county's median home values. Pocahontas County collects the lowest property taxes in the state, and they average $561 every year. Homeowners in the Des Moines area pay an average of $3,561 annually.
Once you get a home, you may always worry about losing it due to unforeseen circumstances. Iowa introduced the Homestead Protection laws to protect homeowners from losing their homes due to bankruptcy. Under these laws, a person may set aside a set amount of property that debtors can't touch due to bankruptcy.
If you live on a rural property, Iowa allows you to set aside up to 40 acres under this law. For urban communities, you can set aside a half of an acre, and your personal property has a cap of $500. There are four exceptions to the rule, and they are:
Iowa is a state that practices both judicial and nonjudicial foreclosures. Iowa is unique in the fact that it breaks his foreclosure process down even farther. If the foreclosure is a nonjudicial foreclosure, the lender and buyer have options.
Iowa is also considered a recourse state, and this means that a mortgage lender can sue the defaulted borrower for any deficiency, with respect to the restrictions.
Check out the following resources to learn more about the Iowa real estate market.
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