Scenic Illinois city will give you free land to move there

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Sunset in Aries Winery in Grafton, Illinois. (Photo: Getty Images)

GRAFTON, Ill. (KTVI) – Looking for a change of scenery? Those looking to move may consider the Illinois river city of Grafton, which is offering a land rebate program to newcomers.

The city owns land lots in the Grafton Hills neighborhood that are on sale for $5,000 each. When someone purchases a lot, they have three years to build a house on the property. Once the house is completed, the city will reimburse the homeowner’s cost of the land, according to Mayor Mike Morrow.

“It’s a great deal,” he said.

Currently, there are 26 lots available that are about one-third of an acre each. If a landowner does not build a home by the end of the three-year period, the city will buy back the land for $4,000.

The money used to reimburse lot owners comes from the city’s escrow account, according to Morrow. After the city’s building inspector provides a final inspection and turns in the homeowner’s occupancy permit, the city will write a check for $5,000, and either present it in person or in the mail.

There are currently five homes under construction and another two homes that are going to be built. So far, everyone who has bought land through the city’s program has built a home, Morrow said.

A string of well maintained old structures line Main Street on a sunny summer afternoon in Grafton, Ill. (Photo: Getty Images)

The properties for sale sit on the bluffs, so future homeowners will not have to worry about flooding or purchasing flood insurance.

“It sits right at the intersection of the Illinois and Mississippi Rivers,” Morrow said. “And it’s very quiet and peaceful. Then in the wintertime, through the trees, you can get a beautiful view of the river and so forth, depending upon where you are – obviously not from all of the locations.”

The neighborhood has several amenities nearby, including a school, a meeting space, and a park with a playground, a soccer field, and a basketball court.

“It’s just a wonderful place to be able to walk your family at night, walk the dogs, walk the kids,” Morrow said.

The city’s land reimbursement program is part of FEMA’s Great Flood of 1993 buyout program. A total of 600 homes were destroyed in that flood, according to Morrow. A couple of years later, FEMA bought the land where the homes were destroyed in Grafton Hills.

Over the years, the city has been selling the land to homeowners and more recently started this reimbursement program, Morrow said.

“Grafton is a gorgeous little town. It’s one of the few towns on the Illinois side that basically embraces the river. You can walk up to the river’s edge on the Mississippi or the Illinois river and put your toe in the river,” Morrow said.

Those interested in buying land can call Stan Gula with Dream Homes Realty at 618-806-2747.

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