Iowa Home Foreclosure Laws

Learn about the steps in an Iowa foreclosure.

If you’re looking for information about how Iowa foreclosures work, keep in mind that Iowa has foreclosure laws that the lender must follow. For example, Iowa law generally gives foreclosed homeowners a redemption period (a period of time during which the homeowner can reclaim ownership of the home by repurchasing it after foreclosure), but there are some limitations that are particular to Iowa. If you want to learn what the law is in Iowa, the best place to look is in the state’s statutes.

Below you’ll find a summary of some of the key aspects of Iowa foreclosure law along with citations to the statutes so you can read the law yourself.

How to Find Iowa’s Foreclosure Laws

The citations to Iowa’s foreclosure statutes are:

  • Iowa Code Sections 654.1 through 654.26.
  • Iowa Code Sections 655A.1 through 655A.9.

You can find the Iowa Statutes on the Iowa legislature’s website at www.legis.iowa.gov/law. If you need help locating the statutes, see Finding Your State’s Foreclosure Laws.

Key Features of Iowa Foreclosure Laws

We’ve summarized important parts of Iowa foreclosure laws below. You can find more detailed articles on various aspects of Iowa foreclosure law in Nolo’s Iowa Foreclosure Law Center.

Most Common Type of Foreclosure Procedure in Iowa

Most Iowa foreclosures are judicial (with or without redemption), which means they go through the state court system. (Learn more about judicial foreclosures.) Iowa law also allows:

  • alternative nonjudicial voluntary foreclosures (where the borrower voluntarily gives up possession of the home and the lender agrees to waive any deficiency), and
  • nonjudicial foreclosures of nonagricultural property (which only applies to property that is neither used for an agricultural purpose nor is an owner-occupied one- or two-family dwelling). Iowa Code §§ 654.18, 655A et. seq. (Learn more about nonjudicial foreclosures.)

Since Iowa foreclosures are typically judicial, this article focuses primarily on that process.

Notice of the Foreclosure

There are several different types of notice the lender will provide during the Iowa foreclosure process: a notice of the right to cure the default, a demand for payment of the accelerated balance, a notice of the option for counseling and mediation, a summons and complaint, and a notice of the foreclosure sale.

Notice of the right to cure the default. At least 30 days before filing the suit to start the foreclosure, the lender must mail a notice of the right to cure the default (reinstate) to the borrower. Iowa Code § 654.2D. If the property is agricultural, the lender must mail the notice 45 days before starting the foreclosure. Iowa Code § 654.2A. (The right to reinstate is discussed in more detail below.)

Demand for payment of the accelerated balance. After the right to cure expires, but before starting the foreclosure action, the lender must send the borrower a demand for the accelerated balance due on the mortgage, otherwise it cannot later get an award of attorney’s fees. This notice gives the borrower 14 days to pay the total outstanding loan balance before the lender starts a foreclosure action. Iowa Code § 654.4B(1).

Notice of the option for counseling and mediation. Along with the demand for payment of the accelerated balance (or other initial communication from the attorney representing the lender), the lender must send a form informing the borrower about the availability of counseling and mediation. Another copy of this form must be sent along with the complaint for foreclosure. Iowa Code § 654.4B(2).

Summons and Complaint. To officially start the foreclosure, the lender files a lawsuit in court. The lender will give notice of the lawsuit to the borrower by serving him or her a summons and complaint. (Learn more about the difference between a foreclosure summons and complaint.)

Notice of the foreclosure sale. If the lender gets a judgment, the court will order a foreclosure sale. A notice of the sale must be published in a newspaper four weeks prior to the sale and posted in several public places. Iowa Code § 626.75.

Special Foreclosure Protections in Iowa

Iowa law provides protections similar to the federal Servicemembers Civil Relief Act. Among other things, Iowa law prohibits a nonjudicial foreclosure if the service member entered into a mortgage to purchase real estate prior to military service. Iowa Code § 29A.103.

You Can Reinstate the Mortgage Before the Foreclosure Sale in Iowa

“Reinstating” is when you catch up on the defaulted mortgage's missed payments (plus fees and costs) in order to stop a foreclosure. (Learn more about reinstatement to avoid foreclosure.)

In Iowa, the borrower gets 30 days to reinstate after receiving the notice of the right to cure if the land is nonagricultural (or 45 days if the property is agricultural). The borrower cannot reinstate if there was a previous default within the past year (or two previous defaults at any time for agricultural land). Iowa Code §§ 654.2A, 654.2D.

Right of Redemption After Foreclosure in Iowa

In some states, you can redeem (repurchase) your home within a certain period of time after the foreclosure. Under Iowa law, whether and when the borrower can redeem depends on the type of foreclosure process the lender uses.

Judicial foreclosure (with redemption). If the foreclosure is judicial with redemption, the borrower can redeem the home within one year, six months (if the lender waives the deficiency in the foreclosure action and other criteria are met), or 60 days (if the borrower abandons the home). Iowa Code §§ 628.3, 628.26, 628.27.

Judicial foreclosure without redemption. If the lender elects to foreclose without redemption, the borrower can demand a delay of sale and redeem before the sale. There is no post-sale right of redemption. Iowa Code § 654.20

Alternative nonjudicial voluntary foreclosure. If the borrower agrees to this type of foreclosure, there is no redemption period. Iowa Code § 654.18. (To get details on redemption rights in Iowa, see Nolo’s article If I lose my home to foreclosure in Iowa, can I get it back?)

Iowa’s Deficiency Laws

When the total mortgage debt exceeds the foreclosure sale price, the difference is called a “deficiency.” Some states allow the lender to seek a personal judgment (called a “deficiency judgment”) against the borrower for this amount, while other states prohibit deficiency judgments with what are called anti-deficiency laws.

Iowa law generally allows lenders to sue borrowers for the deficiency, but there are several restrictions. (To learn the specifics about Iowa’s restrictions on deficiency judgments, see Iowa Laws on Post-Foreclosure Deficiency Judgments.)

Notice to Leave After the Foreclosure Sale

If the foreclosure is judicial, the foreclosing party may generally include the eviction as part of the foreclosure action. If the foreclosure is nonjudicial, the new owner (usually the foreclosing party) must file a separate eviction lawsuit.

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