The program that helps first-time home buyers get lower interest loans and downpayment assistance is now available to more Iowans — for more expensive homes. A home can now cost as much as 189-thousand dollars in most of the state — up to 231-thousand dollars in Iowa’s 10 largest cities. In addition, the maximum amount a person or couple can earn to quality for help has increased. Mike Tramontina runs the Iowa Finance Authority, which hands out the help to first time homebuyers. Tramontina says his agency expects to invest three or four times as much capital in rural areas of the state. Marty Lee of the Iowa Realtors Association says that’s what’s exciting. Lee says the problem in the past was the program’s limits prohibited rural Iowan residents from qualifying. He says the changes could be one of the single most important pieces of good news for the real estate market in rural Iowa. Dan Vessely of the Iowa Bankers Mortage Corporation expects more Iowa banks in rural areas to start using the program. Vessely says the enhancements to the program will greatly increase the possibility of home ownership to low income Iowans and rural Iowans. Governor Tom Vilsack hailed the changes, which came about through changes in I-R-S rules. Vilsack says the move will help expand home ownership in the state. A person or couple can now 55-thousand dollars in the state’s smallest counties to just over 100-thousand in Iowa City, for example, and get first-time homebuyers assistance.