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Posted by on Feb 17, 2013 in Market Conditions | 3 comments | Print Print

Affordable, But Unavailable

This is the reality on the lower-end throughout the Southland:

southland recoveryBill Sepe has gotten used to rejection.

The 28-year-old Rancho Cucamonga native has put in nearly 200 unsuccessful offers since August on Inland Empire homes, varying from typical suburban ranches to classic craftsman homes.

All this anguish comes in pursuit of a modest home in the exurb of San Bernardino County, the epicenter of the Southern California housing crash. Plummeting values here sparked a vicious wave of foreclosures.

But it’s precisely because prices fell so far here that Sepe can’t buy a house now. In a sharp irony, many would-be homeowners in hard-hit markets can’t compete with a flood of all-cash offers from investors, some backed by Wall Street war chests.

So they’re missing out on the only upside of the real estate crash: historically low prices and interest rates.

The repeated rejections come despite Sepe’s solid qualifications: a stable job as a cell tower technician and a pre-approved home loan. He watches as houses hit the market, then get scooped up within an hour. He offered a battle metaphor to describe his plight.

“I am this little country,” he said. “And it’s like this huge country is coming and attacking my country, and I can’t win.”

The Inland Empire has gone from bust to boom with a vigor few could have predicted, mirroring Western regions such as Phoenix and Las Vegas. Surging demand has tightened inventory, driving up median home prices in San Bernardino County by 18.3% and in Riverside County by 25.2% from the last year, according to real estate firm DataQuick.

The median, the point at which half the homes sold for more and half for less, hit $226,000 in Riverside and $177,500 in San Bernardino in January.

That’s great for the real estate industry and helps the local economy. It also boosts home equity, or, at least, decreases negative equity for the thousands of Inland Empire residents still mired in underwater mortgages.

But it’s bad for many buyers.

Now that housing is finally affordable, it’s unavailable.

“That’s really a missed opportunity for folks who have been playing by the rules, are doing the right thing, and trying to get a toehold into homeownership,” said Paul Leonard, California director of the Center for Responsible Lending.

Thank you Alex from the latimes.com – read full story here:

http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-inland-empire-recovery-20130217,0,1704128,full.story

3 Comments

  1. the investors from wall street will gladly sell their homes to them when the market heats up again.

  2. Scratching my head trying to reconcile:

    “historically low prices and interest rates.”

    with,

    “But it’s bad for many buyers”

    and,

    ““That’s really a missed opportunity for folks who have been playing by the rules, are doing the right thing, and trying to get a toehold into homeownership,””

  3. LA Times version of news: Housing prices low = owners are distressed due to low prices. Housing prices high = buyers are distressed due to high prices.

    So where were these people for the last 3 years?

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