These Are The 10 Best Places To Buy A House In Iowa For 2018


Using science and data, we can tell you which places in Iowa have seen home prices rising and people flocking over the past year.

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Editor’s note: This is not investment advice and we are not financial advisers.

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There’s a the age old question everyone thinks about when they decide to move to a city in Iowa:

Should I buy a place or rent?

Well, we aren’t here today to solve that problem for you exactly. We are just assuming you’ll do the right thing and a buy a place 😉

And while we are happy to tell you the best place to live in Iowa, this analysis is going to tackle the question of the best place to buy a house as an investor. That is we are going to try and determine the up and coming cities in the Hawkeye State.

To do that we are going to look at places in Iowa that are growing faster than average, but where home prices are below average. In every day terms, the ‘deals’.

The best deal in Iowa at the moment? That would be Waterloo according to our analysis.

Here’s a look at the top ten places to buy a home in Iowa:

  1. Waterloo (Photos | Homes)
  2. Algona (Photos | Homes)
  3. Vinton (Photos | Homes)
  4. Mount Pleasant (Photos | Homes)
  5. Boone (Photos | Homes)
  6. Spencer (Homes)
  7. Council Bluffs (Photos | Homes)
  8. Storm Lake (Photos | Homes)
  9. Nevada (Photos | Homes)
  10. Muscatine (Photos | Homes)

The methodology that wen’t into this can be a bit complicated, so we’ll break it down for you in as much detail as we can below.

If you’re not worried about finding a deal on good places to live, check out the most expensive places to live in Iowa and, for those of you on a budget, the cheapest places to live in Iowa.

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How do you determine the best places to buy a home in Iowa?

We were in real estate for almost five years and have been working on this site for another three. Suffice is to say, we’ve put a lot of thought into what goes into finding a good place to buy a home.

So all that thinking has come to this moment where we get to spell out how we’d approach finding an up-and-coming place to live in Iowa. Put differently, the analysis will try to find places in Iowa with undervalued homes relative to pent up demand.

To do that we looked at the most recent American Community Survey Census data for 2012-2016 and compared it to the previous vintage (2011-2015). Specifically, we used the following criteria:

  • Y-o-Y Change In Population (People want to live here)
  • Y-o-Y Change In Median Home Prices (People are willing to pay for it)
  • Home Prices Relative To The State Average (It’s still kinda cheap)

We want places that are growing, have seen home prices increase in recent years, and are still ‘cheap’ for Iowa with the following caveats:

So of the 1,002 cities and towns in Iowa, only 13 places made it through our initial filters to even be considered.

We then ranked each place from 1 to 13 for the criteria mentioned above with 1 being the best for that criteria. We averaged the rankings to create a ‘best place to buy’ index with the place having the lowest index being the best.

Turns out that Waterloo is the best potential gem in the not-so-rough in the Hawkeye State.

Read on for more on these places.

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1. Waterloo

Waterloo, IA

Source: Public domain

Population: 68,357
Median Home Price: $106,800
Population Change: -0.1%
Home Price Change: 2.5%
More on Waterloo: PhotosReal Estate | Data

Waterloo was originally known as Prairie Rapids Crossing. The town was established[citation needed] near two Meskwaki American tribal seasonal camps alongside the Cedar River. It was first settled in 1845 when George and Mary Melrose Hanna and their children arrived on the east bank of the Red Cedar River (now just called the Cedar River). They were followed by the Virden and Mullan families in 1846. Evidence of these earliest families can still be found in the street names Hanna Boulevard, Mullan Avenue and Virden Creek.|On December 8, 1845, the Iowa State Register and Waterloo Herald was the first newspaper published in Waterloo.

2. Algona

Algona, IA

Population: 5,496
Median Home Price: $115,400
Population Change: 0.0%
Home Price Change: 14.8%
More on Algona: PhotosReal Estate | Data

Algona was founded in 1854 and after the Algonquian word for ‘Algonquin waters’.

3. Vinton

Vinton, IA

Population: 5,166
Median Home Price: $115,000
Population Change: -0.6%
Home Price Change: 8.4%
More on Vinton: PhotosReal Estate | Data

Vinton was founded in 1849. It was named for Hon. Plynn Vinton, a state legislator. The first railroad line was extended to Vinton in 1869, and it was incorporated as a city that same year.

4. Mount Pleasant

Mount Pleasant, IA

Population: 8,491
Median Home Price: $107,900
Population Change: -1.0%
Home Price Change: 2.2%
More on Mount Pleasant: PhotosReal Estate | Data

Mount Pleasant was first incorporated as a town by European Americans in 1842, and again in 1851.

5. Boone

Boone, IA

Population: 12,609
Median Home Price: $104,400
Population Change: -0.2%
Home Price Change: 1.3%
More on Boone: PhotosReal Estate | Data

Coal mining played an important part in the early history of the Boone area. Local blacksmiths were already mining coal from the banks of Honey Creek south of what became Boone in 1849.

6. Spencer

Spencer, IA

Population: 11,172
Median Home Price: $119,700
Population Change: -0.1%
Home Price Change: 4.0%
More on Spencer: Real Estate | Data

European Americans did not settle in what became Spencer until after the American Civil War; the first house was built in 1866, and the first store was opened in the area in 1869.

7. Council Bluffs

Council Bluffs, IA

Population: 62,326
Median Home Price: $113,500
Population Change: 0.0%
Home Price Change: 1.4%
More on Council Bluffs: PhotosReal Estate | Data

The first Council Bluff name (singular) was actually on the Nebraska side of the river at Fort Atkinson (Nebraska) about 20 miles northwest of the current Council Bluffs. It was named by Lewis and Clark for a bluff where they met with the Otoe tribe on August 2, 1804.

8. Storm Lake

Storm Lake, IA

Population: 10,768
Median Home Price: $111,700
Population Change: -0.4%
Home Price Change: 1.0%
More on Storm Lake: PhotosReal Estate | Data

Storm Lake was incorporated in 1873. The city of Storm Lake is named from the lake where it is said a trapper experienced a severe storm.

9. Nevada

Nevada, IA

Population: 6,796
Median Home Price: $123,400
Population Change: -0.0%
Home Price Change: 4.7%
More on Nevada: PhotosReal Estate | Data

Nevada was platted in 1853. It was named after the Sierra Nevada mountains. A post office has been in operation in Nevada since 1854.

10. Muscatine

Muscatine, IA

Population: 23,909
Median Home Price: $109,000
Population Change: 0.1%
Home Price Change: 0.7%
More on Muscatine: PhotosReal Estate | Data

Muscatine began as a trading post founded by representatives of Colonel George Davenport in 1833. Muscatine was incorporated as Bloomington in 1839; the name was changed to reduce mail delivery confusion, as there were several Bloomingtons in the Midwest. Before that, Muscatine had also been known as ‘Newburg’ and ‘Casey’s Landing’.

There You Have It – The Best Places To Purchase A House In Iowa

There’s our analysis of the best places to buy a house in Iowa. And, to be clear, we aren’t necessarily saying these places are the best places to live, just that it looks like they might be in a couple of years based on the data.

In fact, every place in the following table meets our criteria, so even though it may not look super long, remember we started off with all 0 places in the state.

So if we’d could rent or buy in these cities, we’d definitely buy.

For more Iowa reading, check out:

Detailed List Of The Best Places To Buy A Home In Iowa

City Rank Median Home Price Population Change Home Price Increase
Waterloo 1 $106,800 -0.1% 2.5%
Algona 2 $115,400 0.0% 14.8%
Vinton 3 $115,000 -0.6% 8.4%
Mount Pleasant 4 $107,900 -1.0% 2.2%
Boone 5 $104,400 -0.2% 1.3%
Spencer 6 $119,700 -0.1% 4.0%
Council Bluffs 7 $113,500 0.0% 1.4%
Storm Lake 8 $111,700 -0.4% 1.0%
Nevada 9 $123,400 -0.0% 4.7%
Muscatine 10 $109,000 0.1% 0.7%
Independence 11 $118,900 0.3% 1.5%
Des Moines 12 $119,800 2.3% 1.7%
Davenport 13 $122,700 0.4% 0.8%

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