Soon You Won't Be Able to 'Drive Until You Qualify'

<p>High gas prices and slowing construction rates in exurban areas may mean that the era of "driving until you qualify" for affordable housing may be over soon.</p>
May 23, 2008, 12pm PDT | Nate Berg
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"During the housing boom that now feels like a lifetime ago, the mantra was 'drive until you qualify.' If you couldn't afford San Diego, you drove up I-15 until you found a subdivision that fit your budget in a place like Lake Elsinore or Perris. If you made $70,000 a year in Silicon Valley, you headed out 580 to Tracy or Manteca in the Central Valley. If Sacramento was too expensive, you drove 45 minutes north to Yuba City."

"All of that driving seems less feasible with every passing day."

"Recent figures released by the California Building Industry Association indicate that housing construction, which is slow everywhere, may be slowest in these exurban areas. In the last few days, we've seen news reports that prices in even relatively close-in suburbs have fallen much farther than prices in central cities - and may not rebound for a long time."

"The Wall Street Journal reported on Tuesday that while prices are holding fairly steady in San Francisco proper, 'Alameda and Contra Costa, across San Francisco Bay from the city and chockablock with anonymous tract housing, are down 18% and 27%, respectively. Bargains exist, but with so much inventory, prices aren't expected to rebound quickly.'"

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Published on Wednesday, May 21, 2008 in California Planning & Development Report
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