The housing market has finally levelled off, though it remains expensive compared with most other parts of the country. Until recently, houses were selling before they hit the market, even in some of the more dismal areas. The seller had all the power and serious buyers couldn’t afford to hesitate. The roles are starting to reverse. Housing prices have dropped, and listings typically stay on the market much longer. The upside to house hunting in Los Angeles is that it’s a huge city. There is a lot of inventory and all kinds of choices, from brand new tract homes or vintage bungalows to classic Spanish-style architecture and lofts housed in historic buildings. Your choice of location also depends on how much you are willing to spend. You can live by the beach, in one of the many revitalised downtown areas, in a suburban neighbourhood, near the foothills, or on a ranch. If you’re going to rent a house or apartment, you may be asked to sign a one-year lease. You may also be required to pay the first and last month’s rent and a cleaning deposit at the time of signing. Usually, the cleaning deposit is returned at the end of the contract along with the last month’s rent, as long as the property is in good condition. Also, don’t hesitate to negotiate the monthly rent, especially if the rental market is soft and saturated.

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