Getting Your Home Back After a Property Tax Sale in Iowa

If you lose your home in Iowa for failure to pay property taxes, you can get it back by redeeming (repaying the taxes plus other costs).

You might lose your home to a tax sale if you don’t pay your Iowa property taxes. You will, however, get some time under Iowa law to save your home by “redeeming” it after the sale. If you don’t redeem in time, a new owner will get a deed (title) to your Iowa property.

How Tax Sales in Iowa Work

In Iowa, the county treasurer can conduct a tax sale if you don’t keep up with your property taxes. (By selling the home, the county treasurer gets the money needed to satisfy the tax debt.)

Tax sales in Iowa are public auctions. However, instead of selling the home to the highest bidder, the winning bidder is the person (or entity) willing to pay the total amount due in exchange for the smallest percentage interest in the property. (For details on the tax sale process in Iowa, see What Happens If I Don't Pay Property Taxes in Iowa.)

Following the sale, the winning bidder gets a certificate of purchase, subject to your right to redeem the property. (“Redeeming” the property means paying off the delinquent amounts.)

How Long You Get to Redeem After an Iowa Tax Sale

In most cases, you’ll get one year and nine months after the sale to redeem the property (Iowa Code Ann. § 447.9). This is called a “redemption period.” (Sometimes the redemption period is shorter, for example, if the home didn’t sell at a previous tax sale or in the case of certain abandoned properties.)

Additional time to redeem. After the redemption period expires, you get another 90 days in which to redeem the home. This is because once the redemption period ends, the person (or entity) that holds the certificate of purchase must mail you 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 You'll Have to Pay to Redeem

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 there was a particular problem with the process, such as your not having received proper notice about your right to redeem expiring (Iowa Code Ann. § § 447.8, 448.6).

(If you want to get your home back after the new owner gets a deed to the property, it is recommended that you consult with an attorney.)

Reducing Your Property Taxes in Iowa Before Becoming Delinquent

While you’ll get some time to redeem your property after an Iowa tax sale, it is probably a good idea to look into ways to make your taxes more affordable before you get behind. For example, you could:

How to Find Iowa’s Tax Sale Laws

To review the statutes that discuss tax sales and redeeming your home after a tax sale in Iowa, go to § § 446.1 through 446.45, 447.1 through 447.14, and 448.1 through 448.17A of the Iowa Code.

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