The Housing Panic Is Even Here In Iowa – An Update On The House Hunt

So many readers have been emailing me about our house hunt and have questions about the details of it that I thought I’d write a quick update about how it’s going, mostly because it’s interesting.

Housing prices in Iowa are very nice compared to other regions of the country. You can get a four bedroom house with 2,000 square feet of living space for $200,000 pretty easily, and this has made the house-hunting experience a lot of fun for us because we can look at some very nice houses.

We have an agent who is an older brother of a friend of mine who has been pretty involved in the process, and he flat-out told us at the start of this that this is the best buyer’s market he’s seen in his life. He’s not kidding, either, as we found out last night as we were touring houses and talking to people.

For one, there’s an unbelievable amount for sale. In one area, we walked down the street and were able to count, within our sight range, nine for sale signs. To me, on a normal street, that’s an incredible amount. Minimal research shows that the majority of them have been on the market for six months or more. These are nice houses. I’ll admit, I live in rural Iowa, so my perspective is probably skewed compared to the rest of the world, but this is what I see when I walk around.

As a result, many home sellers have a very strong hint of desperation to them. One agent flat-out told me that his clients would listen seriously to any offer, and we’re being shown houses that, on paper, are very far out of our price range, but they can and will entertain offers that are in our price range. Our agent is telling us to make an initial offer of 25% below asking price or 10% below assessed value, whichever is lower. These things tell me that there is some desperation in the air to sell homes, and it also means we may be getting an amazing house.

Of the houses we’ve visited, only one has struck our fancy, and interestingly it was the least expensive one of the lot. The other ones all had some basic structural features that turned us off, key things that were exposed by our house buying worksheet keeping us on task for what we are looking for.

These are interesting times, my friends. I’ll try to keep you up to date on what I observe, but I can say this for sure: rural Iowa is an amazing buyer’s market right now.

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