A reader writes:
Holla! I'm from Santa Maria myself and everything your reader says is completely true. My mother bought her present home -- a 4-bedroom, 2000 sq. ft. house -- for $125,000 in 1988, at the tail end of the housing glut of the late '80s. It was "worth" $550,000 at the height of the market in 2005, and now currently "worth" about $350,000, according to Zillow.com.
To my eye, the horrible death of the housing boom is actually a Market Correction, and a badly-needed one. For much of the middle 2000s, we on the Central Coast lamented how cops and firefighters in Santa Barbara, couldn't actually afford to live there; they lived in Santa Maria, commuting 70+ miles each way. Now people can afford to get into the market again, because prices are returning to meaningful levels from their delirious highs.