For buyers on a budget, the Southern California housing market can feel impenetrable. Bidding wars and supply shortages have driven prices to historic highs, and according to Redfin, the median home in Los Angeles County sold for $ 839,000 in February.
Fortunately, The Times recently published “The Great SoCal House Hunt,” a comprehensive, step-by-step guide to buying a home in Southern California. It even comes with a Southern California-specific calculator that analyzes your finances and tells you how much you can afford (and what neighborhoods are a match).
Buyers in the $ 500,000 range may have to consider condos, town homes or tenancy-in-common units in addition to single-family residences, but for those willing to get creative, there are still plenty of options. Here’s what $ 500,000 buys in five LA County communities.
LA isn’t exactly known for vertical living, but if you’re willing to lose the white picket fence and grassy backyard, the price-per-square-foot in most downtown buildings is cheaper than many single-family options. Depending on the area, condos list as low as $ 350,000 and offer amenities that replace the conveniences of living in a house. Just be careful about the homeowners association dues.
The home: This century-old unit sits in the Cornell, a historic building in the Fashion District’s Santee Village that’s been converted into chic lofts. Original steel-framed windows pair with 10-foot concrete ceilings in the living spaces, and even though there’s only one dedicated bedroom, the 1,000-square-foot floor plan leaves enough space to be flexible. It also enjoys Mills Act status to save a bit on property taxes.
The address: 746 S. Los Angeles St. # 604, Los Angeles, 90014
The price: $ 509,000 (and $ 813 monthly HOA dues)
The specs: One bedroom and one bathroom in 1,000 square feet
The agent: Jonathan Yuen of Iota Realty
Described by one recent home buyer as “a city with charm where you could also spend an entire weekend,” Long Beach became a hot spot during the pandemic when many LA workers went remote and moved farther south. It also has a huge housing stock, and there are always single-family homes on the market for almost any price range.
The home: Make no mistake – this is a fixer-upper. It’s far from move-in ready, but it has pretty much everything you could want in a starter home: a fenced frontyard, grassy backyard, covered patio, multiple bedrooms and even some custom elements including vintage cabinetry and a sliding farmhouse door.
The address: 255 E. Bort St., Long Beach, 90805
The price: $ 499,000
The specs: Two bedrooms and one bathroom in 777 square feet
The agents: Danielle Whitney Moore and Lauren Yi of Keller Williams Realty
East LA is such a bastion of Latino culture that it even has a Latino Walk of Fame, which instead of Hollywood icons, commemorates Latino legends such as Cesar Chavez and Graciela Beltran. With a population of more than 118,000, it has plenty of homes up for grabs, especially two- and three-bedroom bungalows.
The home: A recent remodel of this single-story home near Whittier Boulevard turned a bonus room into a second bedroom and added beamed ceilings, fresh paint and laminate floors. The exterior is billed as “low maintenance” since it features gravel instead of grass – but do not worry, there are plenty of trees to make up for it.
The address: 4708 Hubbard St., Los Angeles, 90022
The price: $ 485,000
The specs: Two bedrooms and one bathroom in 648 square feet
The agent: Ralph Ruiz of Keller Williams Pacific Estates
San Dimas sits at the foothills of the San Gabriel Mountains, offering a suburban retreat filled with tract homes, strip malls and a little more space than you’ll get in LA Commuters take the freeway these days, but in 2026, the Metro L Line is expected to extend out to the city.
The home: Columns and clay tile touch up the exterior of this single-story home in the planned urban development community of Montecito Village. Granite countertops and whitewashed brick pop up in the living spaces, and the back patio overlooks the community pool.
The address: 116 W. Via Vaquero, San Dimas, 91773
The price: $ 525,000 (and $ 323 monthly HOA dues)
The specs: Two bedrooms and two bathrooms in 1,122 square feet
The agent: Michael Wallace of Better Home Financial
Anchored by medical institutions such as the Martin Luther King Jr. Community Hospital and Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science, the unincorporated community of Willowbrook covers about 3.7 square miles just south of the 105 Freeway. Homes there are usually pretty affordable, with the majority listing for sale at less than half a million.
The home: Tucked behind gates, this remodeled home has new kitchen cabinetry, quartz countertops, tile floors and appliances. Out back, a patio leads to a spacious lawn ideal for hosting.
The address: 2212 E. 117th St., Los Angeles, 90059
The price: $ 499,000
The specs: Two bedrooms and one bathroom in 572 square feet
The agent: Chris Limon of Century 21 A Better Service Realty