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Çalifornians may still be waiting for the fire sale on homes in their quest for “affordable housing” in the Golden state, but even with declining prices, only about one in three families can afford an entry-level home in California, according to the last report from the California Association of Realtors. However, with home prices falling so rapidly, the state’s affordability figures saw some improvement—rising to 33% in the fourth quarter of 2007 from 25% in 4Q a year earlier, according to CAR. Of the respondents to last week’s Quick Poll, 44% answered “NIMBY Is My Way of Life,” and almost as many, 42%, sided with “Education Has Helped, but We’re Not There Yet.” Only 14% responded in the side of “My Neighborhood Embraces it.”Mike De Leon, is president of the Charity Foundation for the Pacific West Association of Realtors. The foundation collects donations from PWR members for a grant program that gives first-time home buyers up to $10,000. De Leon, who’s immediate president of SoCal MLS, owns a residential brokerage by his name in Anaheim. De Leon provides us with his take on the question:

With the number of foreclosures home prices are becoming more affordable, but people are losing their houses because of the economy. When prices of houses were going up and when interest rates were going up, that kicked a lot of people who would qualify, say three four years ago, out of the market last year.

Unfortunately, people got some bad loans from lenders—for example 1% interest for three of four years and then it adjusted and mortgage rates were going up—and house payments were going so high that people couldn’t afford them. This is adding to the number of families in California who do not home and who cannot afford to purchase a home.

On a positive note, a lot more inventory on the market has made some houses affordable for first-time buyers, but it’s still tough for first-time buyers—especially since it’s so hard for them to get a loan in the first place. If you do not have housing for the workforce, whatever the workforce is—whether it’s white-collar, blue-collar—then the economy cannot grow. Housing is the key to the economy to turn around and grow. When housing was very, very good, the economy was flourishing.

Also, the cost of fuel is hurting people who can only afford to buy housing 40 or 50 miles away from urban centers were jobs are located. They cannot afford more expensive homes near where they work, and than cannot afford to pay for the high price of gas for the commute. It’s a double whammy on the poor.

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