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THE BIG FIX

How to survive the bust. Buy, sell, rent, move, or wait it out?

Get intimate with your neighborhood

December 28, 2007|BY D. J. WALDIE | D. J. Waldie is a contributing editor to Opinion.

The fear of foreclosure leaking down from the foothills and the valleys hasn't yet risen to panic in my piece of L.A. flatland. Our tract units -- thrown up 40 to 50 years ago -- can still be mined for just a little more debt. And out here, where the desert meets the crab grass, debt and fear dominate.

If no one talks of flipping seven-figure houses anymore, it may be time to talk of other values. The L.A. sellscape never made much room for those pleasures that took longer to appreciate than the three-year move-to-move cycle.

In 2008, the housing mantra will remain "location, location, location," but you may be located in your place longer than you expected (if you're able to make the mortgage). Maybe this is an opportunity, not to "shelter in place" until the credit firestorm passes but a chance to settle our restlessness, to savor the local.

Home has always been hard for Angelenos to define, except as a collection of dissatisfactions prompting the next move. When there are no more illusions about finding the perfect place, maybe we can begin to perfect places that are ours. Plant a garden. Become a regular any place we can walk to. Or make some other brave promise of continuity. And fall in love with what we already have.

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