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To Rent or Buy in LA

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Good news for homeowners: the housing bubble won't burst anytime soon.

Bad news for homeowners: you won't see a penny of that equity you're building up, because no one will be able to afford to buy your house by the time you're ready to cash out for that quiet place in Idaho.

A report by the Building Industry Association (BIA/GLAV) and the Los Angeles County Economic Development Corporation (LAEDC) has blown the whistle on the dirty little secret of Southern California's skyrocketing housing market: it's pricing us right out of economic competitiveness with neighboring regions, increasing commuter traffic as residents head farther afield for a piece of the suburban dream, and creating a permanent renter class who will find themselves (and their ubiquitous room-mates) squeezing into ever more cramped apartments and homes.

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The cause of this mess is no secret. LA is big (see pic), and getting bigger, with officials expecting 6 million new Angelenos to join our ever-swelling ranks by 2020. That means more traffic, longer lines at Whole Foods, and even higher housing prices.

Of course, if the Big One sends us tumbling into the Pacific, or Gray Davis returns to state-wide office, people will probably stay away. Otherwise, "California, here they come," by the SUV-full. We'd advocate pulling up the welcome mat and locking the door against the advancing hordes of carpet-baggers, but that strikes us as somewhat hypocritical.

Let's face it, we're not natives, either. Are you?