And now, a guest post from Burbed reader Madhaus! Take it away, Madhaus:
Hemet’s Willowalk tract was family-friendly. Then the recession hit.March 30, 2010|By Alana Semuels, LA Times
Home foreclosures have devastated neighborhoods throughout the country, but the transformation from suburban paradise to blighted community has been especially stark in places like Willowalk — isolated developments on the far fringes of metropolitan areas that found ready buyers when home prices were soaring but then saw an exodus as values crashed.
Vacant homes are sprinkled throughout Willowalk, betrayed by foot-high grass. Others are rented, including some to families that use government Section 8 vouchers to live in homes with granite countertops and vaulted ceilings.
The Los Angeles Times describes a gated community turning into a slum in just a few years. Most of the properties sit empty, or are rented to large numbers of people. Meanwhile, underwater homedebtors not only watch their investment fail, their supposedly safe and secure neighborhood is vandalized and taken over by street toughs.
Welcome to Willowalk. Oh, Willowalk isn’t in the Bay Area, it’s in Hemet. People bought this far away from LA because they could get a luxury home in a gated community for under half a million. The 5000 sf home bought by Eddie and Maria Lopez for $440,000 is now worth about $170k according to neighborhood comps.
Think it wouldn’t happen here? It already has. Hemet to Los Angeles is about a hundred mile commute. Have you priced anything around Stockton (America’s Most Miserable City!) (80 miles) lately? Prices are at 2001 levels.