Here's What You Need to Know Before Buying Land in Champaign County

Whether you’re planning to build your dream home in Champaign County or you want to buy land as an investment, buying land is different from buying property with a structure already on it. There are many variables when it comes to owning land. Can you build a home on it? What is it zoned for? What is your access to utilities?

Buying land in Champaign County requires that you do research to find out what you can and cannot do with it.

Here are some important things to know before buying land.

It's a Long-Term Investment

Are you planning to buy land in Champaign County as an investment? If so, you should consider it a long-term investment that you will have for at least 10 years or more. Don't consider it a quick-flip investment.

Realize that if you find cheap land, there may be a good reason it's cheap.

Pay Cash If Possible

If you don't plan on building a home on your land immediately, then you should plan on paying at least 30% - 50% up front in cash. If you do plan to build right away, it’s known as a construction to permanent deal, which is different.

If you buy raw land and don't have immediate plans for it, financing may be a challenge, as lenders will see you as risky.

Even if you plan to build a home right away, you won't have collateral in the form of a finished home, so your credit will need to be excellent.

If you get a construction loan, it will be a short term loan without fixed rates. Your bank will release the funds as construction stages are completed. Then, the loan becomes a mortgage.

To deal with the financial hurdles, paying all cash is the best option.

Septic Tank Concerns

If the land is not connected to a sewer system, then you will no doubt need a septic tank. This will require a percolation test that looks at how absorbable the soil is to the liquid that comes out of the septic tank.

If you can’t support a septic tank with your land, you can’t build, nor can you get a mortgage.

Deed Restrictions

You also need to look at the deed restrictions of the land to see what you can and can’t do with the property. You’ll also have to figure out how binding these restrictions are.

You may find restrictions, like limits on the building styles or the minimum or maximum dwelling square footage.

The more rural the property, the fewer the deed restrictions are likely to be, but that’s not always the case.


Land may be zoned for commercial use, residential or both. You have to figure out if the land is zoned for additional structures like detached garages and plan to have one. Zoning restrictions can determine the minimum structure size you can build.


If there’s an easement on a property’s title, you need to know what that stipulates before buying. An easement lets another person or entity have the legal right to someone else’s property for specific reasons, no matter who owns it.

That might, for example, mean there’s an easement that lets other people go over your property to get somewhere else, reducing your privacy.


If you’re looking at land not on a city sewer system, you may have to dig a well for water. That can be $10,000 or more to drill the well, plus the costs of water filtration. Some people even have to add lakes and hydrants, so firefighters have access to a rural water supply.

Buying land can seem like a great opportunity, but a lot of research goes into it to make sure it’s something feasible. It’s not an easy process. You should do your due diligence and consult with experts and specialists when necessary to make sure you’re following all applicable real estate laws and local zoning guidelines.

Visit our blog twice a week for more helpful real state articles and local Champaign County news. Follow us on Facebook! Rose Price can help you find the ideal home in Champaign - Urbana! Start your home search now with our powerful home search feature.

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