I think Long Beach is one of the best real estate investments in Southern California today. You'll find a link to a blog I wrote on the topic below.
Aside from this, don't waste you're time investing in on-line pitchmen selling information that's publicly available. If you're serious about doing this get an agent right away.
Many home buyers make this same mistake. Commissions will be built into almost any purchase that you make, so take advantage of it now and get the professional representation that you need. Why waste time trying to learn a complex market and still not be ready to make an offer if you do find the home that's right for you. Especially when someone else can do most of the legwork and alert you to issues that you may not have considered.
This doesn't mean that I'm against clients learning the market... just don't be penny wise, and pound foolish. Best of Luck.
Most homes that are in distress often sell to those with the highest down payment. Your best chance to really get a DEAL, is to look at a regular equity sale, likely overpriced, so everyone else is avoiding it, and come in, make a realistic offer, present all your documentation and make it look so enticing the sellers can't walk away from your offer. Those over priced home owners are just temporarily greedy, reality will hit them... you might as well be the one to get the house. Know the going prices, and don't be afraid if it is overpriced. Your well-qualified agent can present your preapproved offer with comps and you would be amazed how far they will come down and counter your offer or maybe even accept it. They want to sell!