Postcard from Inland Empire

As buyers re-enter Southern California's submerged property market, real estate investors are snapping up the best deals. In the land of foreclosures, cash is king

Guillaume Zuili / Vu / Aurora

Where new developments once bloomed, "For Sale" signs now dot the landscape

In the Dust Bowl years of the Great Depression, farmers who fled West out of the prairies found a paradise of citrus groves in Southern California: miles upon miles of navel and Valencia oranges, planted in a vast swath of Riverside and San Bernardino counties, which stretch from East Los Angeles to the Arizona and Nevada borders. Starting in the 1970s, that area, now known as the Inland Empire, became a mecca for a new kind of homesteader: young families lured by cheap land and an easy commute to L.A. By 2008, it was home to 4.1 million people and one...

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