These Are The 10 Best Places To Buy A House In Iowa For 2019


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. Article updated for 2019.

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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 Centerville according to our analysis.

Here’s a look at the top ten places to buy a home in Iowa for 2019:

  1. Centerville (Photos | Homes For Sale)
  2. Fort Dodge (Photos | Homes For Sale)
  3. Denison (Photos | Homes For Sale)
  4. Bondurant (Homes For Sale)
  5. Fairfield (Photos | Homes For Sale)
  6. Waukee (Photos | Homes For Sale)
  7. Ankeny (Photos | Homes For Sale)
  8. Washington (Photos | Homes For Sale)
  9. Norwalk (Photos | Homes For Sale)
  10. Grimes (Photos | Homes For Sale)

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.

For more Iowa reading, check out:

How do you determine the best places to buy a home in Iowa for 2019?

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 2013-2017 and compared it to the previous vintage (2012-2016). 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 79 places made it through our initial filters to even be considered.

We then ranked each place from 1 to 79 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 Centerville is the best potential gem in the not-so-rough in the Hawkeye State.

Read on for more on these places.

Centerville, IA

Overall SnackAbility

5
/10

Population: 5,503
Median Home Price: $68,800
Population Change: 1.8%
Home Price Change: 4.2%
More on Centerville: PhotosHomes For Sale | Data

Founded in 1846 by Jonathon Stratton under the name of “Chaldea,” the city was planned around a unique two-block long city square. The name was later changed to Senterville, named after William Tandy Senter, a prominent Tennessee politician. When incorporation papers were filed in 1855, someone mistook the name for a misspelling and corrected it to Centerville.

Fort Dodge, IA

Overall SnackAbility

5
/10

Population: 24,566
Median Home Price: $90,500
Population Change: -0.2%
Home Price Change: 6.8%
More on Fort Dodge: PhotosHomes For Sale | Data

Fort Dodge traces its beginnings to 1850 when soldiers from the United States Army erected a fort at the junction of the Des Moines River and Lizard Creek. It was originally named Fort Clarke but was renamed Fort Dodge because there was another fort with the same name in Texas. It was named after Henry Dodge, a governor of Wisconsin Territory. The fort was abandoned by the Army in 1853.

Denison, IA

Overall SnackAbility

6
/10

Population: 8,361
Median Home Price: $100,200
Population Change: 0.4%
Home Price Change: 5.5%
More on Denison: PhotosHomes For Sale | Data

Denison was laid out in 1856; the town was incorporated in 1875. Denison was named for its founder, J. W. Denison.

Overall SnackAbility

6
/10

Population: 5,457
Median Home Price: $180,600
Population Change: 7.4%
Home Price Change: 5.8%
More on Bondurant: Homes For Sale | Data

Bondurant was founded in 1884. In 1892, the Chicago Great Western Railway built the Bondurant railway station. Bondurant incorporated as a city on December 23, 1897. The city was named for Alexander C. Bondurant, who was the area’s first settler in 1857.

Fairfield, IA

Overall SnackAbility

6
/10

Population: 10,125
Median Home Price: $104,100
Population Change: 1.8%
Home Price Change: 3.2%
More on Fairfield: PhotosHomes For Sale | Data

The area now known as Jefferson County was first settled in 1836, and became Jefferson County in 1839, with the new community of Fairfield as the county seat. The name was suggested by Nancy Bonnifield, one of the settlers, because it aptly described the fair fields of the area. But also author Susan Welty suggests it was a play of words on her own name. By 1840, Fairfield had a population of 110 and grew to 650 in 1847. The city was the site of the first and second Iowa State Fairs.

Waukee, IA

Overall SnackAbility

7.5
/10

Population: 17,980
Median Home Price: $211,100
Population Change: 6.0%
Home Price Change: 10.0%
More on Waukee: PhotosHomes For Sale | Data

Waukee was laid out as a town in 1869. It is thought to be named after Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

Ankeny, IA

Overall SnackAbility

9
/10

Population: 56,237
Median Home Price: $197,500
Population Change: 5.3%
Home Price Change: 6.1%
More on Ankeny: PhotosHomes For Sale | Data

Ankeny was founded by John and Sarah Ankeny in 1875 and was incorporated on February 28, 1903. A railroad link from Des Moines through Ankeny to Ames was completed in 1874 and passenger service established in 1880.

Washington, IA

Overall SnackAbility

6
/10

Population: 7,358
Median Home Price: $110,000
Population Change: -0.1%
Home Price Change: 6.9%
More on Washington: PhotosHomes For Sale | Data

Washington was founded in 1839 as the county seat of the newly established Washington County. As of 2014, the town has celebrated its 175th anniversary, only 5 years behind the oldest city in Iowa, Dubuque, Iowa.

Norwalk, IA

Overall SnackAbility

6
/10

Population: 10,179
Median Home Price: $179,300
Population Change: 2.4%
Home Price Change: 5.5%
More on Norwalk: PhotosHomes For Sale | Data

It is named after Norwalk, Ohio.

Grimes, IA

Overall SnackAbility

7
/10

Population: 11,139
Median Home Price: $199,700
Population Change: 6.9%
Home Price Change: 5.7%
More on Grimes: PhotosHomes For Sale | Data

Grimes incorporated as a city on May 7, 1894. It is named after James W. Grimes, former senator and third governor of the state of Iowa.

There You Have It – The Best Places To Purchase A House In Iowa for 2019

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
Centerville 1 $68,800 1.8% 4.2%
Fort Dodge 2 $90,500 -0.2% 6.8%
Denison 3 $100,200 0.4% 5.5%
Bondurant 4 $180,600 7.4% 5.8%
Fairfield 5 $104,100 1.8% 3.2%
Waukee 6 $211,100 6.0% 10.0%
Ankeny 7 $197,500 5.3% 6.1%
Washington 8 $110,000 -0.1% 6.9%
Norwalk 9 $179,300 2.4% 5.5%
Grimes 10 $199,700 6.9% 5.7%
Algona 11 $130,800 -0.1% 13.3%
Sioux City 12 $103,400 -0.1% 4.8%
Ames 13 $187,000 1.5% 5.9%
Le Mars 14 $148,900 0.4% 6.8%
Mason City 15 $108,700 -0.3% 5.7%
North Liberty 16 $197,700 4.3% 4.9%
Cherokee 17 $83,500 -1.9% 6.2%
Webster City 18 $93,300 0.1% 2.2%
Altoona 19 $174,700 4.0% 3.9%
Des Moines 20 $123,300 0.9% 2.9%
Storm Lake 21 $118,100 -0.3% 5.7%
Iowa City 22 $202,200 1.4% 5.8%
Creston 23 $85,100 -0.2% 2.4%
Clarinda 24 $80,700 -1.0% 4.4%
Urbandale 25 $216,100 1.5% 5.6%
Marion 26 $159,300 2.2% 2.8%
Eldridge 27 $216,300 1.8% 5.5%
Asbury 28 $240,500 2.6% 4.7%
Ottumwa 29 $73,400 -0.0% 0.3%
Perry 30 $89,200 -1.6% 5.1%
Clear Lake 31 $146,500 -0.4% 7.9%
West Des Moines 32 $203,300 2.2% 4.0%
Atlantic 33 $95,200 -0.4% 3.5%
Manchester 34 $107,900 -0.7% 5.1%
Johnston 35 $248,100 3.5% 4.4%
Burlington 36 $90,100 -0.6% 3.3%
Nevada 37 $128,300 -0.1% 4.0%
Indianola 38 $155,600 1.0% 2.8%
Boone 39 $109,100 -0.6% 4.5%
Waterloo 40 $110,700 -0.3% 3.7%
Hiawatha 41 $140,900 1.4% 2.0%
Council Bluffs 42 $115,800 -0.0% 2.0%
Glenwood 43 $137,200 0.7% 1.9%
Estherville 44 $83,400 -1.6% 2.7%
Spencer 45 $123,800 -0.4% 3.4%
Sioux Center 46 $191,100 1.1% 2.7%
Keokuk 47 $67,400 -1.4% 1.5%
Sheldon 48 $144,200 0.9% 1.4%
Newton 49 $98,200 -0.0% 0.1%
Pleasant Hill 50 $189,200 2.1% 1.5%
Independence 51 $120,100 0.1% 1.0%
Cedar Rapids 52 $138,500 0.6% 1.3%
Mount Pleasant 53 $109,600 -0.3% 1.6%
Oskaloosa 54 $95,200 -0.1% -0.6%
Waverly 55 $164,000 0.0% 2.3%
Davenport 56 $124,300 -0.0% 1.3%
Fort Madison 57 $80,400 -1.3% 1.1%
Dubuque 58 $135,800 -0.2% 1.8%
Cedar Falls 59 $173,600 0.8% 1.3%
Oelwein 60 $67,900 -1.6% 0.9%
Coralville 61 $206,800 0.9% 2.0%
Red Oak 62 $72,500 -1.3% 0.0%
Muscatine 63 $108,800 -0.2% -0.2%
Knoxville 64 $93,600 -0.5% -0.2%
Pella 65 $181,900 -0.4% 3.8%
Clive 66 $243,200 0.7% 2.5%
Clinton 67 $93,500 -1.0% 1.0%
Winterset 68 $140,000 -0.0% 0.4%
Iowa Falls 69 $88,300 -0.9% -1.9%
Maquoketa 70 $87,500 -1.2% -0.3%
Bettendorf 71 $197,000 0.7% 1.1%
Charles City 72 $89,000 -0.9% -3.4%
Anamosa 73 $93,900 -0.7% -2.8%
Marshalltown 74 $95,400 -0.7% -3.4%
Carroll 75 $139,300 -0.5% 1.2%
Vinton 76 $113,200 -0.5% -1.6%
Decorah 77 $165,700 -1.7% 3.2%
Orange City 78 $157,400 -0.5% 0.8%
Grinnell 79 $133,800 -0.9% -3.4%

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