Where Are the Hottest Real Estate Markets in Illinois Right Now?

Illinois is a fascinating state, stretching as it does from the Great Lakes/Rust Belt of Chicago all the way to the Ohio River and Kentucky. It has vast, flat farmlands in the middle and a thriving river culture along the Mississippi. Geographically, it’s pretty diverse. The same can be said for its real estate market. 

I’ve been investing in Illinois real estate for more than two decades, and now might be one of the most interesting times that I’ve seen for real estate investing. Many areas have gained recent popularity. And, there are also new opportunities in areas that have been hot for a while. 

Understanding the hottest real estate markets in Illinois—and knowing how to avoid overpaying for them—is key to setting up your real estate investment business for success. Here’s what to look for in the Land of Lincoln. 

Understanding the Overall Real Estate Market in Illinois

Why is the Illinois real estate market so interesting right now? In many ways, it is an outcome of the COVID-19 pandemic. Overall, the state is in a cooling housing market—it’s the 47th ranked state in the country due to high unemployment and an increase in property value. However, there is a lot of reason to be hopeful. 

In November of 2020, prices were up 4.8% year-to-year, with median home prices at $219,000. As of April 2021, the typical value of homes in Illinois was $229,866. Home prices are expected to continue to climb.  

But, it’s not just price, volume is also on the rise. A forecast from the University of Illinois in May of 2021 estimated that in terms of sales, “(a)nnually for Illinois, the three-month average forecasts point to an increase in the range 15.7% to 21.3%” for the next year. That’s a market that is ready to grow. 

And it is going to grow in interesting ways. While there are a lot of hot places in Chicago, the ability of people to work remotely, and their desire to get away from the city, has led to booms in other places—some of which may surprise you. 

The Hottest Real Estate Markets in Illinois

If you’re looking to start your real estate investing business in Illinois, here are some of the hottest real estate markets to consider. 


Ottawa is actually one of my favorite places. It is rich with history (the mural depicting the Lincoln/Douglass debate always gives me chills) and has the natural beauty of Starved Rock right next door. It had been past its heyday, with the industry moving away, but it is poised for a rebound. 

After all, it has charming stores, delightful local restaurants, and a relaxing atmosphere. It’s comfortable and not super urban but doesn’t feel like an empty small town. There’s sort of a Galena vibe without all the tourists. It’s a perfect place to settle down post-pandemic. 

According to Zillow, home values in Ottawa have increased 9.3% over the past year. As of April 2021, the current median sales price is $141,667. Ottawa is currently a seller’s market. If you can manage to scoop up an investment property and rehab it in a timely manner, you’ll likely be met by tons of quality buyers.   

Champaign-Urbana (Chambana)

If you haven’t been to the University of Illinois in a decade or so, you might not recognize downtown Champaign. New high-rises dot Green Street. Expensive restaurants abound. The city thrives with cultural events. And, emerging from the pandemic, the streets are again filled with life, from the courts to Krannert Center. 

It’s not just Champaign. Even normally more run-down Urbana is getting in on the action. This is borne out by the median prices of homes in the area and their year-over-year growth. 

  • Savoy: 6.6% growth, $253,713 average
  • Champaign: 7.4% growth, $160,003 average
  • Urbana: 8.3% growth, $143,132 average

Don’t be hesitant to invest here if
you want to be a landlord in Illinois. Despite this being a college town, many are wanting a change of scenery post-pandemic and with the option to work remotely. 


The claim to fame in Edwardsville is that it is home to SIU-Edwardsville. But what really makes it pop is that it’s just outside the St. Louis metro area, a short drive from that metropolis, but with its own comfort. It’s got a charming downtown, a relaxed almost southern feel, and the cool vibes of a university town. 

So it makes sense that this is a town on the move. Year-to-year, median home prices in Edwardsville have gone up 9.2%, reaching over $240,000. Those are the kind of prices you’d be happy to get in one of the wealthier suburbs of St. Louis, but still affordable to people who just want to be away from a city. 

It’s a hot market, and more investors will probably be coming in, which makes it a good candidate if you want to be a real estate wholesaler in Illinois

How to Make Sure You Are Buying Smart in Illinois

Chicago. Downstate. By the river. Near Indiana. No matter where you are buying, you have to be sure of one thing: you sell for a higher price than the cost of the house and the upgrades. You have to recoup your investment and turn a profit. And that’s a lot easier to do if, like me, you invest in an independently owned and operated HomeVestors® franchise. 

As a franchisee, I have access to the proprietary ValueChek® app. This investing and analysis tool has a ton of features all of which come in handy. Access to ValueChek® allows you to:

  • Estimate expenses for more than 80 repairs based on local labor and material costs 
  • Calculate your potential returns 
  • Determine the best purchase price

This is so important. In the hottest real estate markets, such as in Illinois, you want to know that you are making the right decision. You don’t want to pay so much that you can’t turn a profit even in a hot area. Having a reliable estimate of your costs and selling price can help you make the most important decisions. It’s a powerful and helpful tool to work with in a complex, fascinating state.  

If you’re considering buying real estate in Illinois, request information about becoming a franchisee today

Each franchise office is independently owned and operated.

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