Top 5 Markets for Illinois Real Estate Investors in 2024

Real Estate investors considering investing in rental properties are honing in on Illinois.  The Land of Lincoln is a potentially great option for real estate investors due to multiple factors including is robust economy and population!  Despite being right in the middle in terms of land size in the United States (25th largest state), it ranks #5 in GDP and #6 in population!  Easy Street Capital is proud to be a leading provider of loans for rental properties in Illinois!


Types of Loans for Illinois Real Estate Investors


When it comes to real estate investing in Illinois, there are many markets and types of rental property loans to choose from.  For investors that like to get their hands dirty, rehabbing run down or unloved properties, hard money renovation loans are a perfect choice!  These loans allow you to buy a property quickly and finance your rehab costs as well!  Once you are done, you can either “flip” the property for a quick profit or pursue the BRRRR Strategy by renting it out and then refinancing into a long-term, low-rate DSCR loan!


EasyFix                EasyRent


Long-term DSCR Loans are also great for investing in turnkey rental properties.  Turnkey refers to properties that are rent-ready and require no renovations.  Move-in ready single family homes and fully furnished short term are great for cash flow and price appreciation.  Most DSCR Loans are fixed rate for thirty years, locking you into a fixed interest rate for the long-term. While, if historical patterns continue, rents and appreciation increase steadily each year.  Bottom line, debt costs stay the same while cash flow increases!


One of the favorite metrics of real estate investors to spot profitable markets is the Rent-To-Income Ratio.  The Rent-To-Income ratio measures a city’s average market rent against its median household income.  The higher the Rent-To-Income ratio, the harder it is for renters to afford the prevailing rents in the city.  Conversely, if the Rent-To-Income ratio of a market is lower than average, it means there is a large pool of potential renters for rental properties.  Additionally, if the city is growing, it means that rents have room to increase significantly, meaning more cash flow and profits for landlords that lock in their debt payment costs for long-term periods by using DSCR Loans.  Illinois has several markets with very attractive Rent-To-Income Ratios!


Where To Invest In Real Estate In Illinois


Some real estate investors have shied away from the Prairie State due to some troubling trends in the state’s largest city, Chicago.  Sky-high Cook county property taxes, rising crime rates and tenant-friendly regulations have caused some concern on investors in the Windy City. 


However, outside of Chicago, there are some great potential cities for loans for rental properties throughout the state.  Springfield is the capital of the state and has an estimated population over 120,000.  Naperville is the fourth largest city in the state and located just 30 miles west of Chicago.  Aurora has nearly a population of 200,000 and is known for historic architecture.  Champaign is home to the state’s flagship university, the University of Illinois.  Rockford, known as the “Forest City” is a hidden gem vacation destination on the banks of the Rock River.


Illinois is a great state for rental properties for savvy investors searching for the best Rent-To-Income ratios.  According to research conducted by The National Association of Realtors, Illinois boasts two of the top 10 “hottest” markets in 2024.  Investors looking for rental properties in cities with robust room for rent growth should check out Springfield and Rockford.





Springfield, located in central Illinois, is the capital of Illinois the sixth-largest city in the state. The city has a diverse economy, with healthcare, government, and education leading industries.


Real estate investors can find affordable investment opportunities in Springfield, with the median sales price for a single-family home in January 2024 of $161,700 according to Redfin. While affordable, this represents a robust 31.5% year-over-year growth!  In addition, according to a recent analysis from RentCafe, the cost of living in Springfield is 10% lower than the national average. With relatively cheap housing and a population with strong incomes, Springfield is a strong market for long-term rental properties.


Springfield is also an extremely attractive market for investors in short term rentals. Springfield is a city with a rich history that is home to many cultural attractions. Many are related to Abraham Lincoln, one of America’s most famous presidents. The Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum is one of Springfield’s most popular destinations. These feature a collection of artifacts, exhibits, and interactive displays that showcase Lincoln’s life and legacy.  Year-round tourism related to these demand drivers make it a great market for STR investors.


Springfield is not just a tourism market for history buffs.  In addition to these attractions, Springfield hosts several events throughout the year that draw large crowds of visitors. The Illinois State Fair is one of the largest events in the state and attracts people from all over the country. The fair features a variety of entertainment, including live music, carnival rides, and livestock exhibitions. The International Route 66 Mother Road Festival is another popular event that celebrates Springfield’s role in the famous Route 66. The festival features classic cars, live music, and food vendors, making it a great opportunity for investors to offer short-term rental properties to festival-goers.


AirDNA, a leading data provider for short term rental market analysis, ranked Springfield with an exceptional Market Grade of A+ in February 2024!  As mentioned above, the cost of properties is low in Springfield, perfect for investors with smaller budgets.  Despite AirDNA reporting an average daily rate of $141.8, the average projected annual revenue is $31,700 and occupancy is 61%, generating great cash-on-cash returns for STR investors in Springfield – especially to those that leverage rental property loans to minimize capital outlay!  This leads to sky-high AirDNA “investability” and “rental demand” scores of 97 and 81 respectively.





Naperville is a fast-growing city in northeast Illinois with a population of over 145,000. It has a diverse economy with a mix of industries, including healthcare, technology, and education. The city also boasts a vibrant downtown area with a variety of shops, restaurants, and cultural attractions. These include the Naperville Riverwalk and the Naper Settlement Museum. Real estate investors can benefit from both long-term and short-term rental demand in Naperville, with events such as the Naperville Wine Festival and the Last Fling drawing in visitors throughout the year.


Naperville’s strategic location between Chicago and Joliet also makes it a desirable destination for those looking to commute to either city. With the growth of the surrounding areas, Naperville is poised for continued development, making it a prime opportunity for investors looking to enter a promising market.





Aurora is a growing city in northeastern Illinois with a population of over 199,000. The city has a diverse economy, with industries such as healthcare, education, and manufacturing playing key roles. Aurora is also home to many cultural attractions, including the Aurora Regional Fire Museum and the Paramount Theatre. Its vibrant downtown area has many shops and restaurants that attract both residents and visitors.


Aurora has the nickname of “City of Lights” as it was one of the first cities in the United States to have an all-electric street lighting system. Fans of historic architecture flock to the city as its home to famous structures by Frank Lloyd Wright and other notable architects.  For real estate investors that have a passion for architecture in addition to cash flow, Aurora is a great choice!


Real estate investors can take advantage of both long-term and short-term rental demand in Aurora. The city hosts big events such as the Aurora Farmers Market and the Midwest Literary Festival. These bring in visitors and provide a great opportunity for short-term rental income. In addition, the Hollywood Casino Aurora is a dockside gaming facility located along the river in downtown Aurora.  This huge casino boasts over 53,000 square feet and 1,200 gaming positions, drawing in tourists from across the state.  With its location near major metropolitan areas such as Chicago and Milwaukee, Aurora offers a prime opportunity for investors looking to get in on a growing market with significant potential for future development.





Champaign is a vibrant city in east-central Illinois and home to the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, a top-ranked research institution with an enrollment of over 50,000 students. The city is also a significant center of business, hosting offices for several Fortune 500 companies, including Abbott, Archer Daniels Midland (ADM), Caterpillar, John Deere, and State Farm. Champaign also serves as the headquarters for Jimmy John’s, the quick-service sandwich shop empire!  These corporate offices provide robust and stable employment, of key important to rental property investors.


Champaign is also an excellent market for real estate investors that specialize in student housing. The large student population provides a consistent demand for rental properties in close proximity to the university. Investors who focus on well-located properties and rent to reliable students can earn higher returns than with traditional long-term rentals.


In addition to student housing, Champaign is a popular destination for short-term rental investors. The city hosts a number of events throughout the year. These include the Ebertfest Film Festival and the Taste of Champaign-Urbana. Additionally, the university’s Big 10 athletic programs, including football, basketball, and volleyball, draw in large crowds for game day weekends. These events provide a great opportunity for investors to capitalize on short-term rental demand and earn higher rental income.


Overall, with its strong economy, diverse industries, and growing population, Champaign offers a prime opportunity for real estate investors.





Rockford, located in northern Illinois, is a charming city known for its historic downtown district, parks, and cultural attractions. It is yet another Illinois city on AirDNA’s Top 5 markets list for 2023!  The city boasts a rich history and a variety of architectural styles, making it a popular destination for art enthusiasts. Rockford is also home to several natural parks, including the Anderson Japanese Gardens and the Rock Cut State Park. These offer a range of outdoor activities like hiking and fishing.


Due to its eclectic culture, and natural beauty, Rockford has become a sought-after location for short-term rental investors. Families from nearby states, such as Wisconsin and Iowa, flock to Rockford for a relaxing vacation throughout the year. Rental rates and occupancies remain steady, with peak seasons during the summer months. Additionally, the city hosts various festivals and events, including the Rockford City Market and the Stroll on State. These bring in even more visitors and potential rental income.


The National Association of Realtors ranked Rockford as one of the “hottest” markets to invest in in 2024.  With an average rental property revenue of $34,900 (if used as a vacation rental) and a typical home value of $141k, the returns for investors are sky high.  In addition, Rockford has received a remarkable Market Grade of A as of February 2024, with a 100/100 score in investability. If putting just 20% down through a DSCR Loan, that means an average investor could earn $34,900 in short term rental revenue with a cash investment of under $24,000!  Even after accounting for expenses and debt service, that’s potential for supercharged cash-on-cash returns!


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Ready to invest in real estate in Illinois?  Easy Street Capital is Illinois’s best provider of loans for rental properties, for both hard money rehabs and long-term rental properties.


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