Iowa Real Estate Transfer Taxes: An In-Depth Guide (2024 Update)

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By Jon Stubbs Updated March 18, 2024


Who pays transfer taxes? | When are transfer taxes paid? | Methodology

Iowa's current transfer tax rate is $0.80 per $500. So, for a house worth $214,151 — the median home price in the state — the transfer tax due will be Typically paid by buyer. It doesn’t stop there, however, as cities within the state may charge an additional fee on top of the standard rate, which can cause your total dues to increase.

The specifics on who pays the transfer tax in Iowa are sometimes up for negotiation, but usually the buyer is responsible.

Clever Real Estate can help you cut costs here — our concierge team will partner you with an experienced agent who can help you negotiate a good deal with your buyer on transfer taxes. Not to mention, you'll save big by paying only 1.5% in commission.

💰 Find an agent who can negotiate your transfer taxes

You can't change transfer tax rates. But, an experienced Clever Real Estate agent can help you win the negotiation battle so you aren't stuck paying all of the transfer taxes on your own.

When you choose Clever, you'll work with a full-service realtor with transfer tax expertise in your local market.

Clever's service is totally free, with zero obligation — you can walk away at any time.

Who pays transfer taxes in Iowa: The buyer or the seller?

In Iowa, the seller is responsible for the real estate transfer tax. However, the transfer tax is due when the deed is recorded, and the buyer is responsible for that process (and cost.)

To reconcile this, at the closing table the buyer takes the amount of the transfer tax as a credit against the sales price. Then, the buyer pays the transfer tax when the deed is recorded, along with the recording fees.

The seller's costs at closing also include real estate commissions, prorated property taxes, and abstract and document fees. The property taxes are also taken as a credit by the buyer against the sales price, so the buyer is responsible for actual payment for that cost as well.

Buyers, of course, need to expect to pay their down payment, lender fees, escrow, appraisal, home insurance premiums, and any attorney fees they've incurred.

How Much Are Transfer Taxes in Iowa?

Iowa assesses transfer taxes at $0.80 per $500, with the first $500 exempt.

As an example, the median home value in Iowa is $214,151, although that can vary widely depending on the specific city or town you're looking at. At that price, the transfer taxes would be $0.80 per $500.

In Iowa, this tax is due to the county and is used by a variety of entities. 17.25% is retained by the county, 74.47% goes to the state's general fund, 4.14% goes to the Housing Trust Fund, and 4.14% goes to the Shelter Assistance Fund.

Can You Deduct Transfer Taxes?

As a seller, you may wonder if you can deduct transfer taxes from your federal taxes as an expense. Unfortunately, you cannot, but you can use them to lower your capital gains obligations.

When you sell a home that you've lived in for at least two of the last five years, the first $250,000 ($500,000 if you're married filing jointly) of your capital gain is exempt from capital gains taxes. Any amount over that is taxed. However, the sale price is not your capital gain.

Instead, you start with the sale price and deduct all of the expenses you paid to sell the home — including commissions, fees, and transfer taxes. Then you deduct the amount you paid for the home along with any improvements you've made over the years.

What's left is your profit. If it's under $250,000 (or $500,000,) you won't pay taxes on the sale unless you've used the exclusion in the past two years or fall under other exceptions.

When do you pay transfer taxes in Iowa?

Transfer taxes are paid at the closing of a deal, and in most cases are paid by the seller. So, when you're filing your taxes, sellers should be sure to deduct the transfer tax from their capital gain.

This is especially important because capital gains tax is paid to the federal government and the transfer tax is paid to the state government. So, chances are, you'll be paying both these taxes separately, and at different times.

Other Considerations

As we noted above, the transfer tax is deducted from the sale price but is physically paid by the buyer when the deed is recorded. You'll see the amount of transfer taxes in the paperwork on the HUD-1 settlement form.

As with all other aspects of a home sale and the associated fees, transfer taxes are negotiable. One of the reasons it's so important to work with an experienced real estate agent is that they are highly skilled in negotiation and can help you get a deal that works best for you.

Property taxes are due September 1st and March 1st in Iowa, and the seller gives a credit to the buyer for property taxes to date at the closing of the sale. If any capital gains taxes are due, they need to be paid after taxes for the sales year are filed.

You may think that working with a real estate agent is an unnecessary expense, but that's far from the case. If you're a buyer, your agent will help you find the right home at the right time and negotiate the best price. They'll walk you through the process and make sure you protect your rights.

As a seller, your agent will help you price your property, market it, screen buyers, and arrange showings. They'll also help you negotiate the right sales price, walk you through the process of handling offers, and make sure all the legal paperwork is in place.

We’ll partner you with a local real estate agent who knows how to deal with the state’s tax and helps negotiate a deal in your favor. What’s more, our agents charge only a 1.5% listing fee compared to the state average of 2.67%! The money you'll save can more than offset the cost of the transfer taxes.

» SAVE: Learn more about how a Clever agent can help you navigate Iowa transfer taxes


  • Transfer tax amounts are based on government website information as of February 2024.
  • We gathered our listing commission rate data from a December 2023 survey of 630 of our partner agents.
  • Home values, list prices, and sale prices are based on Zillow data as of February 2024.

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