Getting Your Home Back After a Property Tax Sale in Iowa

If you lose your home in Iowa because of delinquent property taxes, you can get it back by redeeming it (repaying the taxes plus other amounts).

In Iowa, if you let your property taxes go unpaid, the county treasurer can sell your property, or a percentage of it, at a tax sale to pay off the delinquent amounts. But you won't face a tax sale without getting fair warning, and you'll get the chance to get your home back after the sale because, under Iowa law, you can reclaim (or "redeem") your property—even after someone else buys it at a tax sale.

How Tax Sales Work in Iowa

Under Iowa law, the county treasurer can sell your home, or a percentage of the property, at a public sale if you don't pay your property taxes. (Iowa Code Ann. § 446.15). (If you're struggling to pay your property taxes, learn about your options to avoid a tax sale.)

At the public sale, which takes place on the third Monday in June unless a different date is designated by the treasurer, the property is offered for sale to the bidder who is willing to take the smallest percentage of the property, though not less than 1%, for the total amount of taxes, interest, costs, and fees due. (Iowa Code Ann. §§ 446.16, 446.7).

After the sale, the winning bidder gets a certificate of purchase, subject to your right of redemption (see below). (Iowa Code Ann. § 446.29).

Notice Before an Iowa Tax Sale

The treasurer must mail you a notice not later than May 1st unless May 1st is a Saturday or Sunday, in which case the notice may be mailed on the first business day in May. (Iowa Code Ann. § 446.9). The treasurer must also publish one notice in a newspaper at least a week, but not more than three weeks, before the sale. (Iowa Code Ann. § 446.9).

Notice After the Tax Sale

Within 15 days after the sale, the county treasurer must send you a notice that the property was sold at a tax sale. (Iowa Code Ann. § 446.2).

How Long You Get to Redeem Your Property After an Iowa Tax Sale

In most cases, the redemption period lasts for one year and nine months after the sale. (Iowa Code Ann. § 447.9). Sometimes, however, the redemption period is shorter, like if the home didn't sell at a previous tax sale or in the case of certain abandoned properties. (Talk to a lawyer if you need help figuring out how long the redemption period is in your particular situation.)

Additional Time to Redeem

Once the redemption period ends, the person or entity that holds the certificate of purchase must mail a notice about your right to redeem expiring. This notice gives you another 90 days to redeem. (Iowa Code Ann. §§ 447.9, 447.12). If you don't redeem by the end of the 90 days, your right to do so expires. The certificate holder will then get a deed to your property and become the new owner. (Iowa Code Ann. § 448.1).

How Much Will It Cost to Redeem My Iowa Home After a Tax Sale?

To redeem your property after an Iowa tax sale, you must pay the county treasurer:

  • the price that the purchaser paid at the tax sale, including a fee for the certificate of purchase
  • 2% interest per month, and
  • the total amount of any taxes the purchaser paid for any subsequent years, plus interest. (Iowa Code Ann. § 447.1).

Getting Your Home Back After Losing It to a New Owner

After the new owner gets the deed, you might be able to get your Iowa home back by filing an action in court. You can do this only if the process was flawed, like if the purchaser didn't send you a notice about your right to redeem expiring. (Iowa Code Ann. §§ 447.8, 448.6). If you want to learn about whether it might be possible to get your home back after the new owner gets a deed to the property, consult with an attorney.

Getting Help from a Local Iowa Foreclosure Lawyer

To learn more about tax sale and redemption laws in Iowa, consider talking to a foreclosure lawyer, a real estate lawyer, or a tax lawyer who has experience in property tax matters.

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