Every single home matters in a community of 120 people.
Each house serves as a crucial piece of the local tax base, keeping the town from fading away.
That's why people like Marne Mayor Randy Baxter have surgically removed the town's dilapidated homes over the years.
That's why the city will give away residential lots for free to anyone willing to build a new home.
And that's why Baxter himself has refurbished older homes and plans to begin building spec homes at his own risk.
"I care about the town," he said. "It gets to a point where it takes so many households to keep the lights on."
The mayor is the city's largest property owner. He estimates he's owned about a quarter of the town's properties as he's bought and sold homes, lots and commercial buildings over the years.
While he may have played an outsize role in Marne's housing market, Baxter's efforts represent a wider trend across Iowa: Rural community leaders, struggling with aging housing stocks and little to no new construction, are taking a more active role in housing development.
Many have realized that developers will never show up to rebuild their inventories of houses and apartments without a push from the local community.