How To Get a Loan for Land, Multi-Family, and Commercial Real Estate in Chicago

Getting a loan to buy a house for a residence is one thing, but getting a loan for land (as well as for a multi-family unit or commercial real estate) is quite another. In most cases, you’ll have to have a larger down payment and jump through a lot more hoops. And the whole thing can be pretty confusing for a first-timer. So here’s how to get a loan for land, multi-family, or commercial real estate in Chicago.

Getting a Loan for Land in Chicago

Many people want to buy undeveloped land so they can build a custom home from scratch. But getting a loan for land in [market-city] presents some challenges you need to be aware of.

The chief problem borrowers face when trying to obtain a loan for land to build on is that there’s no home on the land to serve as collateral for the loan. If you happen to default on the loan, bare land is a much tougher sell than a house.

That means you may need to look at alternative financing to get a Chicago loan for land, especially to find acceptable terms. Some possible options are:


If the seller/owner is eager to sell, owner financing can be a good option for a loan for land. This will be a transaction between just two parties, so terms will be negotiable, including everything “from the down payment to the interest rate.”


“Local banks and credit unions typically look more favorably on land loans than the big behemoths do. They also may offer better terms due to their local knowledge of the property. All the same, a potential borrower will need to present a loan package with specs and plans for the land, as well as personal financial information to prove creditworthiness.”


If the land meets the location requirements, you may be eligible for federal aid in the form of a USDA Loan. These loans typically have minimal requirements and very good terms.


If you have an existing property, you may be able to leverage the equity in that property with a home equity loan, which will typically get you better terms than a standard loan for land or construction loan.

Just keep in mind that getting a loan for land to build a house on is more complex than the application process for a standard mortgage.“Lenders require surveyed boundaries, and you’ll need to check zoning and land-use restrictions, as well as access to utilities and public roads. The more improved the land, the lower your required down payment and borrowing costs will be.”

Getting a Loan for Multi-Family in Chicago

Getting a loan for a multi-family unit is even more involved and affords fewer options, especially when it is strictly an investment property, than a loan for land in Chicago. If it is to be an investment property, you won’t have access to government-backed loans and the required down payment will be higher.

The down payment amount depends on the loan program, but here are some representative examples:

  • Duplex – 15%
  • Triplex – 20%
  • Fourplex – 25%

One good thing about getting a loan for multi-family is the higher loan limit than for a loan for land. “Another plus to getting a multi-family property is that you can get a more expensive property without heading into jumbo loan territory (which comes with higher interest rates). More units equals a higher lending limit.”

Of course, getting a bigger loan means that you’ll need more income to qualify. But you may be able to leverage the potential rental income to help you qualify (though you can use only 75% of rental income as qualifying income). Contact your local agent at 773.233.2301 to learn more about this.

Getting a Loan for Commercial Real Estate in Chicago

And getting a loan for commercial real estate can be even more complex (and stressful) than a loan for land or for a multi-family. About the only way to go about it is with a commercial mortgage loan, but they are available even without assets or cash to secure them.

Typically, loans for commercial real estate “are put toward the purchasing of existing or new properties. They also can be used after the fact to develop, construct or renovate a physical property or the land. Additionally, you can refinance a loan on an existing commercial property.”

In addition, you may not be able to get a loan for commercial real estate as an individual. And some lenders may require you to occupy the space.

Commercial real estate loans are also fairly large, so, in order to help mitigate their risk, lenders typically require a large down payment. This can range from 15% to 30%.

The common types of commercial real estate loans are

  • “SBA commercial real estate loans, including 7(a) and Certified Development Company (CDC) 504 loans”
  • Conventional commercial mortgage
  • Commercial bridge loan
  • Hard-money loan

The steps to take toward getting a commercial real estate loan include:

  • Getting your credit in order
  • Shopping commercial loan lenders
  • Applying for the loan

The Agent Advantage

It should be fairly obvious, then, that a loan for land in Chicago or for a multi-family or for commercial real estate will be complex. It takes a qualified real estate agent to help you navigate all the intricacies. So if you’re ready to take the plunge and get a loan for land, a multi-family, or commercial real estate contact us at 773.233.2301.

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