Money and Main Street
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Elk Grove, Calif.
Elk Grove, CA
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Purchase price: $615,000
Price change from peak: -43%


Chalk up Tony and Helen Diavatis as one couple who benefited from the housing bust. The retired mortgage broker and his wife just pulled off a rare double: They got their asking price for their old home in the Sacramento area, where prices have cratered, and negotiated a sweet deal on a new place nearby.

They had a very nice house on a beautiful golf-course lot that their buyer could not pass up. In love with the location, she paid what Diavatis was asking: $615,000.

The Diavatises sold in order to downsize their living space and set up a happy retirement. They disdained the nursing-home life style and wanted to be close their family without actually living in the same quarters. So after looking, they bought a 3,600-square-foot contemporary home with an 800-square-foot casita. Their daughter and her family call the main house home, while they live in the smaller abode.

It's now easy to watch their grandchildren - and they got a bargain.

"The couple we bought from was in a bitter divorce," said Tony. "The husband had already refused to sign papers for two previous deals. The wife was furious."

The original asking price was $980,000, and one rejected offer came in at $785,000. Tony offered just $575,000. The sellers rejected that figure, however. So he made a second bid of $615,000 on a take-it-or-leave-it basis. They closed at that price in early November. Prices in Elk Grove are down 19% in 2008 through Sept. 30, according to Zillow.com.

Now, they're fixing up the yard and putting in a pool.

"We are bolstering the economy with $100,000 in improvement spending," Tony said. "We have faith in our country and believe the economic malaise can be overcome if more people would put their money to work." - L.C.

NEXT: Howell, Mich.
Last updated June 15 2009: 10:24 AM ET
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