After reigning as the largest fraternity or sorority house on campus for nearly 25 years, the SAE house on 23rd Street has been listed for sale. The chapter declined to comment on the reason behind the selling of the house.
After reigning as the largest fraternity or sorority house on campus for nearly 25 years, the SAE house on 23rd Street has been listed for sale. The chapter declined to comment on the reason behind the selling of the house.

Fraternity house for sale

SAE lists longtime legacy for $1.3 million

One of the University of Northern Iowa’s most notable fraternity and sorority houses belonging to the Sigma Alpha Epsilon (SAE) fraternity is going up on the real estate market at a whopping price tag of $1.3 million. 

Sitting in the midst of 23rd Street’s numerous buildings and residences, the 48-person fraternity house with around 14,600 square feet of living space built in 1998 is the largest house in UNI’s fraternity and sorority community. The second largest is the Alpha Xi Delta sorority house at nine bedrooms and roughly 3,200 square feet of living space. 

The house’s construction had to be halted in October 1998 due to insufficient funds. It resumed about a year later, and the fraternity men were able to move in in January 2000. (NI ARCHIVES)

SAE came to UNI back in 1965, making them the oldest active fraternity chapter on campus, and one of two active national fraternities remaining. Nationally, the organization has around 220 chapters. Iowa’s Drake University, Simpson College and Iowa State University also currently have SAE chapters.

The University of Iowa previously had an SAE chapter, but it was removed from the campus following hazing and violations of SAE governing laws.

It is uncertain as to why the fraternity is selling the building. According to the membership data collected by the UNI Office of Student Life, enrollment numbers have been steadily dropping since fall of 2020. 

In spring of 2022, SAE membership was at 42 members. Their membership has been dropping steadily since that time, with only 24 active members as of fall 2023. 

SAE fraternity President Blake Sailer declined to comment on the sale and what the future holds for the housing of SAE’s future and current members. 

The listing was originally posted on Jan. 22, 2024 by Fischels Commercial and Residential Group based in Waterloo. 

When SAE was first established on campus in 1965, it merged with the chapter of Alpha Chi Epsilon, a local fraternity established in 1915. It is the only local UNI fraternity still connected to an active national chapter. At that time, UNI had one of four other SAE chapters located in Iowa, according to the State College of Iowa’s The College Eye. 

The current SAE house isn’t the only structure the fraternity has inhabited. The lot on 23rd Street used to be home to two houses, one of which was the former SAE house.

According to the Oct. 15, 1993, publication of the Northern Iowan, the SAE chapter paid off the $44,000, 20-year mortgage of the house that previously sat on their current lot in just under 10 years thanks to various fundraisers and local donations by SAE alumni. This made SAE the only fraternity and sorority to own a house mortgage-free at the time. 

The chapter then decided to build the current mansion that sits on 23rd Street by tearing down that house and the house adjacent, but not without hiccups.

Peters Construction, Inc. was tasked with constructing the 48-member house, but the project came to a standstill around October 1998, as financing was not in order to continue work. A year later, the $1.3 million project recommenced as funds were allocated. Construction of some aspects of the home were held off for a later date to accommodate for funding changes. 

SAE members were able to move into the house upon completion back in January 2000.

The sale of SAE’s house comes after the disbanding of two other fraternities, Pi Kappa Alpha and Sigma Phi Epsilon, after the 2022-23 school year due to dropping membership numbers. 

Data collected from UNI Office of Student Life FSL Academic Reports. (TAYLOR NOHRENBERG)

Last year around September, UNI saw the attempted entrance of Chi Phi into UNI’s fraternity and sorority life (FSL). The chapter was set to reach their goal of 20 to 25 members, but they did not reach full membership in order to become an established organization. 

In a September 2023 interview, FSL Advisor Josh Farris said total FSL enrollments may be declining, but across the board are remaining steady. Looking back at the data collected from the Office of Student Life, FSL enrollment remained steady at 199 members across the 2022 and 2023 school years. At the time of the September interview, both Farris and Interfraternity Council President Chase Anderson remained optimistic that membership will only increase as UNI sees greater enrollment numbers. 

Farris was reached out to by the Northern Iowan for this article, but declined public comment.

UNI’s fall 2023 enrollment is seeing a greater number of students with an increase of 75 students from the previous year thanks to incoming freshman, transfer students and graduate students. Currently, FSL enrollment numbers make up 2.85% of the full-time student population.

Despite SAE numbers dropping, the organization is keeping vibes upbeat with various events hosted by the group, the most recent being a Super Bowl potluck and a Rocket League tournament in February. The fraternity also hosts a blood drive in Maucker Union for their primary philanthropic group, the American Red Cross, twice every semester. 

For more information on UNI Greek life, visit or on Instagram @saeatuni for upcoming events.

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