5 Best Land and Lot Loans in California


Land loans give Californians a convenient way to make their dream home happen or purchase property for business or recreational purposes.

Key Terms

  • Purchasing land with a land loan is one way to buy in an expensive area.
  • A lot loan has no insurance requirements.
  • Sometimes called lot loans, these loans let you build when you want.

California is one of the most diverse and dynamic states in the Union, with a little bit of something for everyone. Whether you like the casual glamor of Los Angeles or the stunning terrain of the Sierras, California offers space for you to build your dreams. 

According to the U.S. Census Bureau— the Golden State is comprised of some 155,858 square miles of land, including of course metro, suburban and rural areas. Californians who are interested in buying land and then building a home in due course have a wide range of options out there.  

Per the New Estimates of Value of Land of the United States, the value per acre of land in California is $39,091.83. That means that Californians looking to buy land now and build later can do so at a relatively affordable rate, given the size of the California economy and the cost of pre-built homes.

While construction loans in California are for financing a new home build, a land loan lets you secure the land you want, then build when you want. This is especially convenient for those who are trying to build in pricey areas or those who are building vacation homes. 

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How land and lot loans work in California

How are lot loans used in California? They essentially serve as funding for buying land for a building or a company. They don’t have any rules about how you use the land. In other words, you can buy the parcel and then leave it be until you are ready if you are not intending to build your holiday house for a few more years.

The cost of land per acre in California is quite low, so many Californians may find that the high down payment required for land loans is manageable. These loans occasionally have higher interest rates as well, but since you are not required to purchase insurance, you can save money over the course of the loan.

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5 Best California land loan lenders

If you’re in the market to purchase land in California, consider these land loan lenders that are available for projects in the state.

1. California Bank & Trust

California Bank & Trust has been around for almost 70 years, providing a number of banking services for many needs in California. California Bank & Trust offers lot loans to use towards the purchase of a piece of property as well as construction loans to pay for building on a property.

We reached out to California Bank & Trust to discuss land loan details, which you can read about below:

  • Receive up to 60% of financing on approved credit.
  • Secure the site while you finalize architectural plans (construction projects preferred).
  • One closing instead of two saves you time and money.
  • Closing costs and interest payments during construction can be rolled into the loan.

When you’re ready to connect with a loan officer, use our form to quickly match with land and lot loan programs based on your specific circumstances.

2. Cal-Lending

Cal-Lending offers a number of loan products to meet the needs of people looking to purchase land, build, or remodel most property types in California. Some of the products that they offer are lot and land loans for metro, urban, and suburban residences and agricultural and rural land loans.

We reached out to Cal-Lending to discuss land loan details, which you can read about below:

  • Metro / Urban / Suburban Residential Lot / Land intended for future Primary or Second / Vacation Home construction.  
  • Bank financing for the purchase or refinancing of Residential or Agricultural zoned land / lot parcel for construction of a future primary or second/vacation home property. $200,000 – $1.0MM lot / land loan, net of down payment.
  • “Rural” land / lots for future primary homesite. $250,000 – $1.10MM lot / land loan, net of down payment.
  • Agricultural – existing or potential farm income. $250,000 – $1.50MM lot / land loan, net of down payment.
  • Minimum Land / Lot Loan: ~ apx $200,000  (generally parcels listed at $250,000 or more preferred)
  • Maximum Land / Lot Loan: $2.0 million (residential parcels)
  • Parcel Size: For residential-zoned lots / land, buildable lots up to 45.00 acres (additional conditions apply for parcels 10.01 – 45.00 acres). Parcels larger than 20 acres are case-by-case and may require our “rural” lot loan program. Call or email for specifics.
  • Minimum Down-Payment: Required down payments start at 20% on lot / land sales but may be higher depending on several factors.
  • Credit Score / History:  720 is preferred, though we can accommodate credit scores as low as 680 with additional conditions. No recent bankruptcy or foreclosure. 
  • Traditional Income and Asset Qualifying: Historical tax returns, income statements, paystubs, asset account statements, etc
  • Residency: US citizens with valid SSN and file US tax returns, OR green card holders only.

When you’re ready to connect with a loan officer, use our form to quickly match with land and lot loan programs based on your specific circumstances.

3. Citizens Bank & Trust

Based in North Alabama, Citizens Bank & Trust provides a number of services for those living in the area and looking to invest in property. Citizens Bank & Trust offers land loans and construction loans to help with the purchase of property as well as the building on property.

We reached out to Citizens Bank & Trust to discuss land loan details, which you can read about below:

  • Available for home construction or land
  • Available for primary residence or secondary home construction
  • Draw system: funds can be disbursed in stages as construction progresses
  • May roll into permanent loan, saving on closing costs
  • Local decision-making and processing

When you’re ready to connect with a loan officer, use our form to quickly match with land and lot loan programs based on your specific circumstances.

4. California Land and Construction Loans

California Land and Construction Loans have been providing building loan services in California for over 35 years. California Land and Construction Loans offer land loans for a number of purposes, including purchases as well as refinancing and for all types of properties.

We reached out to California Land and Construction Loans to discuss land loan details, which you can read about below:

  • Minimum down payment for land loans is 20% depending on the size of the loan and qualifications.
  • Minimum loan size is $200,000.
  • Short term financing for a residential lot that will be built on within the next 3 years.
  • Intended for primary or second home construction.
  • Zoned residential. Roads, utilities, water and sewer must be available to the site.
  • 36 months fixed rate amortized over 30 years.
  • 6 months PITI reserves required
  • 45% back end debt-to-income ratio required
  • Two appraisals are required for loan amounts greater than $1,000,000.

When you’re ready to connect with a loan officer, use our form to quickly match with land and lot loan programs based on your specific circumstances.

5. AgAmerica Lending

AgAmerica Lending is a multi-generational family farm lender serving residents in numerous states. The organization specifically focuses on agricultural financing. It is ranked as one of the fastest growing private companies and offers coast to coast services to farmers and ranchers throughout the country.

We reached out to AgAmerica Lending to discuss land loan details, which you can read about below:

  • Minimum of 25 acres required
  • Minimum loans of $150,000
  • Farm/ranch financing available
  • Recreational land loans available
  • Terms from 18 months to 30 years

When you’re ready to connect with a loan officer, use our form to quickly match with land and lot loan programs based on your specific circumstances.

Does a California home land loan make sense for you?

What kind of residence are you hoping to construct? A land loan might not be the best option if you want a home that you can move into right away. For individuals who can take their time with a project or who are constructing second or holiday homes, a land loan is the perfect option for land purchase. Make sure you read through zoning requirements and any disclosures so that you’re clear on what you can and can’t do on your own piece of land, but generally you have more options going this route than a traditional loan.

The type of lot you are interested in and how developed or underdeveloped it is should also be taken into account. In California, there are numerous acres of undeveloped land, which means that these acres don’t have the necessary infrastructure for homes. While different than a regular home loan, the process is easier when you hope o develop on raw land. Use calculators to verify all the details like interest rates and monthly payments when you’re thinking about working with someone on a land loan.

For homebuyers who qualify for this type of loan, the loan terms can be very appealing and the process may be simpler than the underwriting required for a traditional mortgage loan. If you already looked into a line of credit from a credit union or hard money loan rates, you might want to see if a land loan is better suited.

 In those circumstances, you would require a loan for raw property and would then need to put up the effort to improve the place for a home. Additionally, there are a huge number of residential lots that are retrofitted for residential homes and ready to go. These lots can be a great choice if you are trying to buy in an area where a built home is out of reach in terms of price. 

For buying real estate when you can’t refinance or use a traditional loan, a land loan can help you secure that perfect place you spotted on the NMLS. Borrowers who cannot go the traditional route for a purchase price such as taking out home equity, lines of credit, or a typical mortgage loan may find that it’s easier for them to get a land loan.

If you’re looking to explore land and lot loans in other states, check out our national overview of land loans as a starting point in your search.

Find a Land Loan Specialist

Joshua Holt

Joshua Holt is a licensed mortgage loan originator (NMLS #2306824) and founder of Biglaw Investor. His mortgage expertise lies in the areas of professional mortgage loans, particularly for lawyers, doctors and other high-income professionals. Prior to Biglaw Investor, Josh practiced private equity mergers & acquisition law for one of the largest law firms in the country.

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