Property Management

You and the Property Management Section


This brochure will explain a portion of the services available through the property management section. The property management section is part of the Office of Right of Way, which is in the Iowa DOT's Highway Division.

In this brochure, four basic areas of service are identified that many individuals regularly use.

  • Sales of state-owned improvements (houses, buildings, etc.)
  • Leasing of state-owned real estate
  • Assistance provided to local governments
  • Records

This brochure is designed to provide general information. The property management staff looks forward to answering more specific and/or technical questions. For further information, please contact:

Civil rights compliance and affirmative action

Federal and State laws prohibit employment and/or public accommodation discrimination on the basis of age, color, creed, disability, gender identity, national origin, pregnancy, race, religion, sex, sexual orientation or veteran’s status.  If you believe you have been discriminated against, please contact the Iowa Civil Rights Commission at 800-457-4416, or the Iowa Department of Transportation's Affirmative Action Officer.  If you need accommodations because of a disability to access the Iowa Department of Transportation’s services, contact the agency's Affirmative Action Officer at 800-262-0003

Property Management Section
Office of Right of Way
Iowa Department of Transportation
800 Lincoln Way
Ames, IA 50010
Fax: 515-233-7859

Disposal of state-owned assets

After real estate is acquired for highway purposes, the Iowa DOT is often in a position to dispose of some of the acquired assets. Sales may be classified in two basic groups:
  • improvements that must be removed, or
  • land (with or without improvements).
A brief discussion about both types will be provided, along with often asked questions and answers.

Improvements that must be removed

When the Iowa DOT acquires land for a highway project, improvements are often purchased with the necessary land. We attempt to sell these improvements when practical.

All types of improvements throughout the state are regularly sold on the condition that they must be moved. For example:

  • Houses
  • Grain bins
  • Farm buildings
  • Commercial metal buildings
  • Garages
  • Sheds
  • LP tanks
  • Decorative fences

The list of items can go on and on. If practical, the property management Section attempts to sell all items acquired.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has developed regulations concerning the sale of residential improvements constructed prior to 1978. These homes may be affected by lead-based paint. The DOT complies with EPA regulations concerning the sale of residential dwellings.

For brochures and information regarding lead-based paint and residential properties, please contact the Property Management Section.

Land (with or without improvements)

After completion of highway projects, the property management section disposes different types of land no longer required for highway purposes.Tracts may be very small or fairly large. Residential, commercial, industrial, and agricultural tracts are sold. Some tracts of land are vacant, while other tracts may have improvements.

Iowa Code § 306.23 specifies how unused right of way is to be disposed. The owner(s) of the land at the time of acquisition and the present owner(s) of the adjacent property from which the tract was originally acquired will be given the first opportunity to make offers. These parties have 60 days after notification by the Iowa DOT to make offers. Offers that equal or exceed the market value of the property will be given preference.

Should the DOT not receive an offer equal to or higher than market value, the DOT may proceed with disposal through other means.


Sales are generally handled through a sealed-bid process. Notices of sales and the dates bids are due are usually published in local newspapers. The property management section also provides notices of sales to interested parties.

Properties and improvements to be sold may also be identified by "For Sale" signs placed prominently on the properties. These signs provide the telephone number for the Ames office for your convenience.

Prior to the sale, property managers may hold an "Open House" so that any interested individual may inspect the property.

Bids must be submitted on Iowa DOT bid proposal forms and received by the property management section prior to the published deadline.

The bids are publicly opened at the advertised time. The highest acceptable bid is submitted for approval. The Iowa DOT reserves the right to accept or reject all bids.

When items such as houses and other buildings sold by the Iowa DOT must be moved, the Iowa DOT generally requires a performance deposit (bond). The amount of money required is stated in the bid proposal packet. The successful bidder provides the performance deposit to the Iowa DOT in the form of a check or money order. After the terms of the bid proposal are fulfilled, the performance deposit is returned to the purchaser.

Frequently asked questions about disposal of state-owned assets

The Iowa DOT maintains an electronic mailing list of prospective bidders and others who express interest in state-owned assets. When items are to be sold, the Iowa DOT sends notices to those on the mailing list.
The electronic mailing list service is free to the public. To be placed on the electronic mailing list, simply call 515-239-1300 during regular office hours or complete the form on our Web site at
The DOT will accept checks and money orders. The DOT cannot accept credit cards or cash.
The Iowa DOT will deposit the performance deposit. Once all the terms of the agreement have been fulfilled, the performance deposit is refunded. However, should the buyer not fulfill the terms of the sale, the Iowa DOT may retain a portion or all of the performance deposit.
The bid proposal packet will explain both requirements. However, should you have any questions, please call for specific answers to your questions.
Bids not submitted on the proper forms and correctly completed are generally rejected.
For bids to be considered, the property management section must receive the bids prior to the bid deadline. Any bids received after the deadline cannot be considered as part of the sale.
Yes, but all bids must be delivered before the sale deadline. All members of the public are encouraged to attend the bid openings.
The bid openings are generally held at the Iowa DOT headquarters located in Ames. Please call the property management section for the exact location of the bid opening for a specific sale and directions on how to find the location.
The property management section usually has a sale every month. Some months the Iowa DOT may have more than one sale.
We receive many requests for trees, shrubs and landscaping. Unfortunately, the Iowa DOT cannot sell these items. In order to dispose of these items, the Iowa DOT would be required to have the items certified as disease-free. Costs of implementing these requirements, as well as staffing limitations, reduces the practicality of these types of sales.

The Iowa DOT often utilizes landscaping that has been acquired for other official uses.

The proceeds of all sales are deposited in the road fund and used for other highway projects.

Leasing state property

The Iowa DOT leases properties that are being held in anticipation of a future highway purpose or for future disposal.

The property management section leases several different types of properties. A few of the types of properties leased include:

  • Agriculture (row crop, pasture, etc.)
  • Residential housing
  • Commercial buildings
  • Parking lots

Leases are entered into on forms prepared by the Iowa DOT. Laws or regulations mandate some of the lease terms; however, some of the terms may be negotiable.

The Iowa DOT leases properties throughout the state of Iowa. If you are interested in a specific type of property, please call for further information.

Residential properties that were built prior to 1978 are regulated concerning lead-based paint. Applicable information will be provided to all prospective tenants prior to leasing these properties.

Frequently asked questions about leasing state property

To protect the public's assets, the property management section attempts to obtain rental rates appropriate for the area (market rent). However, market rent may take many forms.

The property management section looks forward to discussing individual situations with you.

Properties being leased are being held in anticipation of a future use. With this in mind, the Iowa DOT must have the ability to cancel all leases relatively quickly to protect the public's anticipated project use. Generally, all leases have a 30-day cancellation clause even though some properties may be held for a longer period of time.
The DOT will accept checks and money orders. The DOT cannot accept credit cards or cash.
Yes, when leasing buildings and/or improvements the Iowa DOT requires damage deposits. The deposits are returned at the end of the lease, provided the tenant fulfills the terms of the lease.

The Iowa DOT may require the tenant to maintain liability insurance on some types of properties.

The proceeds of all leases are deposited in the road fund and used for other highway projects.
Anyone over 18 that is not employed by the Iowa DOT is eligible to lease the properties.

Local public agencies

The local public agency coordinators are located within the property management section. These individuals provide assistance and advice to local governments involved in acquiring land for public projects.

The local public agency coordinators strive to ensure that local projects remain eligible for state and federal funding. The coordinators also assist local governments to ensure that laws and regulations are adhered to and the members of the public affected are treated fairly.

Local government officials may reach the coordinators through the property management section at 515-239-1300.

Frequently asked questions about local public agencies

On occasion a local government will need special services that are difficult to obtain. In those cases, the local government may contract with the coordinators through an inter-governmental agreement. Usually, the coordinators limit their activities to assistance and providing information.
Local governments are responsible for their projects. Generally, calls will be referred to the responsible local officials.


The property management section also maintains records for the Office of Right of Way and other areas of the Iowa DOT. This record center maintains all conveyances involving state-owned highway right-of-way.

Frequently asked questions about records

No. This record center only maintains records concerning right of way on state and federal roadways.
The most convenient place to start your search is probably your local county courthouse. But, if you supply the pertinent legal descriptions, staff can start a search in the property management record center.
Of course! The telephone number is 515-239-1539 and Fax is 515-233-7859.