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Antelope Valley Housing is Back Because No One Can Afford to Live Closer to Los Angeles

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Depressing news out of the Antelope Valley: it's finally starting to recover from the housing bust. The sad part is why: because people can actually afford houses there. Either way, high desert cities like Lancaster and Palmdale are hot, literally and figuratively, according to the LA Times, which says that "Big new houses are selling in the $200,000 range, a mere fraction of home prices across much of the region. And that's driving a stream of home buyers priced out of markets farther south." As working class people from less far-flung regions of Los Angeles County move in, builders are also taking advantage and resurrecting abandoned subdivisions. Compare that to the utter shortage in Los Angeles proper, which has already inflated prices into "mini bubble" territory. Let's see what's happening up in the high desert:

-- Lancaster's median home price in the first quarter of 2013 was up 17.5 percent over last year to $141,000.
-- Palmdale's median home price in that time was up 10.7 percent to $155,000.
-- (But then, the Antelope Valley was hit especially hard by the recession: median prices fell about 70 percent in Palmdale and Lancaster and there were an enormous amount of foreclosures.)
-- Foreclosures are clearing out now, though: they made up about a quarter of all resales in Palmdale and Lancaster in the first quarter.
-- Meanwhile, new units are a-coming: "Half a dozen previously stalled Lancaster subdivisions should be completed by the end of the year after builders took advantage of a city program that reduced building fees." New homebuilding will probably be up about 25 percent this year over last.

But the Antelope Valley still has the same problem it's always had: it's all the way out in the middle of nowhere. And with gas prices what they are, and younger people more and more interested in dense urban neighborhoods, the area's got to figure out how to keep all this new Los Angeles-based interest:

-- Lancaster is attempting to become pedestrian-friendly: "last month, the City Council revised its residential zoning ordinance to provide incentives for infill development and to require developers to include pedestrian and bicycle connections to nearby amenities."
-- Lancaster Mayor R. Rex Parris is trying to attract jobs to his city so high deserters don't have to suffer through such long commutes (assuming they have jobs)--he's hoping to bring in manufacturers, like Chinese electric vehicle firm BYD, which has just committed to opening a factory in the city.
-- And Palmdale Mayor Jim Ledford is just hoping that the eventual high-speed rail stop in Palmdale will make commuting to central Los Angeles County easier.
· After a long fall, Antelope Valley is back on upswing [LAT]
· Los Angeles Housing Market May Be In a "Mini Bubble" [Curbed LA]