Steve, there are undesirable areas in both Long Beach and Torrance. The more desirable areas in Long Beach are Belmont Shore, Naples, Bixby Knolls, Virginia County Club and Park Estates. It depends on what your price point is right now and any consideration you might have concerning local schools. But, if you can't purchase in ones of those areas, perhaps you would be better off delaying a purchase in the near term, saving a bit more money and let the home prices continue to fall around you.
Apart from a few â€œthe world is flatâ€ realtors, everyone realizes that condos are falling in Long Beach. Those that are expecting a quick turn around from this bubble are dreaming. The last cycle took about 11 years to reach peaking pricing from the previous peak. Here are your Los Angeles County vanilla medians between 1989 and 2000: http://www.laalmanac.com/economy/ec37.htm
Pretty amazing, someone who purchased the â€œmedian homeâ€ for 214,831 sold for 215,900 11 years later. However, this bubble appears even larger that the 1989 run up, as depicted in the following graph: http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/laland/2008/04/where-we-stand.html
. Granted prices are falling faster, so perhaps we can reach a bottom faster.
In my opinion this would generally be a terrible time to purchase a condo in Long Beach. All leading indicators are pointing in the same direction as to the Los Angeles market, (i) inventory has increased, (ii) sales transaction volume has slowed dramatically, (iii) lending standards have tightened (pulling thousands of potential buyers from the market), (iv) notices of defaults and foreclosures are at records levels, (v) the economy is slowing (looking more and more like a recession), (vi) literally thousands of high paying mortgage and other real estate related jobs have been lost in southern California over the past year and (vii) the mania which surrounded the real estate market a few years ago has been replaced by a conservative caution steering people to other investment classes. All of these things will put downward pressure on pricing for some time to come.
The reality is that residential prices in Long Beach will almost certainly be lower later this year, likely lower in 2009 and possibly even lower in 2010. Real estate cycles take many years to play out and we are at the early stages of a down cycle.
With that said, if you find your dream condo and can purchase with a large down payment and conventional financing and don't care about prices dropping further, consider the purchase. But DON"T purchase with the expectation of future price gains for a long time. If history is any guide, prices will not rebound quickly when the bottom is finally reached.
Best of Luck,