The Long Beach area was hit real hard by the subprime maket chaos a few months ago and continues to suffer. Long Beach was way oversold on the bad loans and as a result has seen a lot of foreclosures. This could in fact be a great opportunity for you. Certainly the South Bay would be very difficult unless you have a great deal to put down.
Karen has a good idea. I'm currently renting in the South Bay, and looking to buy in Long Beach. The prices there are dropping really quickly. If you work in the South Bay, it will add about a 20 minute commute to your morning travel.
Your other option is to continue to wait until the housing issues further affect the South Bay. Prices in Torrance and the beach cities haven't really dropped that much post-bubble, but I saw my first foreclosure in Torrance the other day, so it's coming.
As you & I know, Milpitas is not the South Bay! Shortsale townhouses here aren't even close to the $200,000s. I would suggest you look at Long Beach. It's has many advantages, is close to the coast, & is much more affordable than the South Bay.
Contact me if you would like more information on my fair city!
The other thing to consider is at what price homes are deliverable in the South Bay. If you are patient and can muddle through the short sale processes - you can purchase a home at a very affordable price. I just wrote an offer for a buyer on a townhouse in Milpitas for the low $200s. I am fairly confident that the bank will accept the offer. There are many other deals out there too to look at.
The answer will depend on a lot of things. How much debt do you have compared to your income? How much do you have to put down on a home? What is your credit score? What part of the South Bay do you want to live in? Once we know the answers to these questions then we can find homes that fit your unique situation.
As Sandy mentions below, check out the calculators on line to get an idea but also know that it is best to sit down with a lender and find out what they might be able to offer. If you don't know your credit score you can find out online. http http://:www.freecreditreports.com or like ...
I am glad to help you see what opportunities there are for you.