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Newton Home Initiative offering $10,000 to homebuyers to move to town

Eligible homebuyers can receive up to $10,000 to move to Newton.

NEWTON, Iowa — Can you imagine getting paid to buy a house? 

For homebuyers in Newton, it's no fantasy, thanks to a city program that's putting money in the hands of people putting down roots.

Newton's Home Initiative has a fairly simple premise. Buy or build a single-family home in Newton, and get $10,000. The program began in 2014, in an attempt to stimulate growth in the town.

"We had tons of people coming to us saying 'where are your new homes?' Well, the fact was, we didn't have any at that time," said Craig Armstrong, Newton's Development Specialist. "So we really needed to concentrate on builders bringing them to town and assuring them that we had a great market for new home buyers."

RELATED: Iowa's housing market broke another record in June

The program has now been renewed twice, most recently on August 3rd. As part of the latest extension, which was unanimously approved by Newton's city council, the minimum home value to be eligible for the payment was raised to $190,000— up from $160,000. 

The results so far have been promising.

"A little over 100, 101 homes have actually been built. That compared to 2011, when there were zero homes being built in Newton," Armstrong said.

Those homes aren't sitting around empty. Newton's population is on the rise.

"It's a 3% increase in population here. That's not happening in rural Iowa. So we're very, very fortunate that that has occurred here," said Michael Hansen, Mayor of Newton.

Other towns have taken note of the program's success. For example, Marshalltown is offering its own $10,000 payments to home builders.

"I think imitation is the sincerest form of flattery," Armstrong said. "So other communities doing what we're doing says somebody sees the benefit and the value in doing this."

Although a smaller, 5,000 payment to lower-valued homes was cut as part of the recent extension, homebuyers who were already in agreements to receive the smaller stipend will still get it.

RELATED: Iowa homes sell at a record-breaking pace in May, an average 41 days on market

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