Purchase price: $155,000
Price change from peak: -48%
Despite getting laid off from his banking job on Christmas Eve, Armando Avila has retained his optimism. The long-time loan officer believes his job skills and experience will be much in demand as steeply falling prices fuel a big upturn in the number of homes sold in California's Central Valley, where he and his wife live.
"It's going to be a good time to be a loan officer," he said.
Christmas week was quite a time for the Avila family. First, Armando was laid off on Wednesday - and a Merry Christmas to you. Then, he and wife, Elizabeth, closed on the house on Friday.
The property is in Madera, a mid-sized city near Fresno, where the housing market has been on a rollercoaster ride. But the plummeting prices gave Armando and Elizabeth, an administrative assistant with a contracting company, a great buying opportunity.
The house was a bank repossession of more than 1,800 square feet with four bedrooms, two baths and two living rooms on a nearly quarter-acre lot. They paid just $155,000 for a house that last sold for $364,000. That's not unusual in Madera. Prices are half what they were at the top of the market and have dropped 30% through the first three quarters of the year, according to Zillow.com
"It's really a good time to buy here," said Armando. "You're able to get a good house in the good side of town for an affordable price."
A big component of their bargain buy was that they were able to get a great rate on their mortgage - just 5.625% on a 30-year fixed rate. That pegged their monthly payment to just over $700.
"We're only paying $38 more a month than out current rent," Armando said. - L.C.NEXT: Castle Rock, Colo.