Recording fees are charged by Iowa counties, and the resources from those fees are used to pay for the cost of providing the recording service as well as other related services including maintaining the public archive of recording documents and providing various means to access information in the public record. In some cases, the revenue from recording services may be used to support other services provided by a county recorder or the county generally.
In Iowa the recording fee is based on the number of pages. Currently the recording fee in Iowa is $7.00 for the first page and $5.00 for each page thereafter. In certain cases, such as real estate documents which convey property from one party to another, there may be supplemental fees including the state real estate transfer tax (Iowa Code section 428A.1) or a county auditor transfer fee (Iowa Code section 331.507(2a)).
For the purposes of comparison with recording fees charged in other states, it is easiest to focus on the base recording fee. It is also helpful to make some assumptions, such as the average number of pages in recorded documents. In recent history, the average number of pages in recorded documents in Iowa is four.
Iowa Fees Lowest Among Contiguous States
Each state has a different method for determining the base recording fee. Some states like Wisconsin, Minnesota and South Dakota have a “flat” fee structure which is not solely based on the number of pages. Wisconsin and Minnesota have established their base recording fees as $30.00 and $46.00 per document. South Dakota has a flat fee of $30.00 per document respectively, but additional fees apply if a document has more than 50 pages. Illinois has a flat fee structure, but the fee varies by county.
For this comparison, Rock Island County, located across the river from Scott County, was used for the comparison. Nebraska and Missouri base their recording fees on the number of pages in a document. For the typical document with four or fewer pages – Iowa recording fees are lower. This is true even if the additional e-submission service fee of $3.00 per document is included.
Iowa recording fees also compare favorably with other states in the central United States region. Among sixteen states in the region ranging from Colorado to Oklahoma, Tennessee and Michigan, only Kentucky and North Dakota have a lower base recording fee for a four-page document. Iowa has the lowest fee for one-page documents.
Thanks to Black Knight Inc. and Ernst Publishing for providing access to the data necessary to do this research.