I know exactly what you are saying. The Orange County example is an obvious pipe dream that was fine 30 years ago or more.
I don’t know how much ready cash you have, I don’t know your risk tolerance level, I don’t know your level of knowledge or sophistication or ability in negotiations or in the trades. I don’t know who you know in lending, what kind of income you have, what kind of income you need, how comfortable you are with self management, how willing you are to travel, etc. etc.
You have rent controls now in many cities whereas that wasn’t true before as much as now.
Those factors all matter after location location location. Your tolerance for BS matters. Real estate is not a hands-off investment unless you own indirectly in a REIT or limited partnership etc.
I do know that real estate is the single best inflation hedge there is. As the dollar inflates, prices rise. Housing is no different, market fluctuations aside.
I don’t need to think. I’m not the one freaking out about liquid cash sitting idle eroding in value as we type.
The flipping game is alive and well especially in luxury markets. The private lending game is alive and well. Etc.
If you are priced out where you live? Find something elsewhere. I can’t tell you what or how to buy. I don’t know where you’re located in CA, and I don’t know the local laws or the local values, both of which affect your situation.
Frankly it’s dumb to ask me to tell you how you are supposed to buy without knowing anything about your ability and your mindset and your risk tolerance and your work ethic. Im not doing a market analysis for you at all anyway.
I am actively buying by the way. But not in markets where the numbers are crap, and I am doing so according to my customized game plan.
What I am telling you is that opportunities exist. If you can’t find them or can’t capitalize on them that’s on you. You do seem to have narrow parameters on what you think is possible, and that always blinds one to opportunity.