SoCal’s high desert becomes a hot real estate market

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Craig Higgins (right) spending time with the Madisons, his new neighbors, in Wonder Valley, California. He moved here during the pandemic. Photo by Benjamin Gottlieb.

California's Wonder Valley is arid and sparsely populated, where property values have jumped close to 20% in the last year, according to an estimate by Zillow. The typical home price is now close to $180,000. That’s a far cry from LA County’s sizzling real estate market, where the median home price is more than $700,000, according to the financial services company CoreLogic. 

Jess Madison bought her place in Wonder Valley in 2019, and she said it’d be twice as expensive now. “I think that’s one of the reasons people are moving out here so much more, is that since the pandemic happened, everyone has been remote working.” 

But people who have lived here for decades are wondering what all this change might mean for them.