Some homeowners do try to rent out their properties, if they have somewhere to go themselves, but most have payments way higher than rent they could collect and also some of the protections for an owner occupent facing foreclosure would go away if the home were converted to a rental. Currently rentals in Auburn, single family homes are about $1./sq ft, so a typical 1400 sq ft home would rent for about $1400/mo, now if that home was purchased in the height of the market it possibly could have a payment without taxes and insurance of over $1800/mo., taxes and insurance add another $300/mo. The numbers just don't work and banks don't want to be in the landlord business (and you don't want them to either)
We do have a property manager in our office, you may want to connect with her, her name is Audrey Baker, she networks with other agents in the area that have investors with rentals too. 530-888-1928
Also up here, check the community boards at the supermarkets, post office, coffee houses and in the newspaper, drive around the neighborhoods, a lot of landlords just post a sign on the property and leave it at that. You may also want to check Lake of the Pines, there are a lot of rentals in there. Loomis and Penryn too, still rural feel.
On the purchasing side Auburn is an area that qualifies for USDA 100% financing of owner occupied homes, but it your credit or job history is bad that won't work.
Seriously, though, an underwater owner would have to cover their costs and, at least in my market, that is not always feasible. Our rental market has also taken a 'hit'. Renters are also experiencing financial difficulties and are not willing to pay for extras, such as views, a pool, etc. They are looking for basic, clean, comfortable housing that meets their basic needs and that is all.
The other thing the public does not seem to have grasped yet is that the banks are making so much money when they short sell or foreclose, due ot the government bail out program, that they aren't even thinking beyond those windfall profits. They seem to have no thought at all of the devastation they are visiting on the nation as a whole, nor do they seem to care. It's a shame really and congress ought to take action, but then again, congress is about as fast moving and creative as the banks!
Wish I could make sense of it for you, but there is absolutely no sense to it.
The other agents made it clear that banks are large corporations with no time or energy to spend renting homes out. They want their money back as quickly as possible to put it toward other investments, etc.
Options for you: Check Craigslist.org first. I've found lots of places to live with that website and new rental listings are happening everyday. Also, as mentioned previously - drive around looking for signs, check community boards, or contact a property manager.
And really, you may qualify to buy. In Auburn there are 100% USDA loans. That means very little out of pocket, and qualification levels are less stringent. Remember, owning means tax deductions galore :)
In major US cities like where I live, a good rent in a nice building won't come near to covering costs. that said, in the owner occupied areas, they are still strong. the heavy investor concentrated buildings have seen dramatic falloffs in values for just the reasons articulated. once the foreclosures begin, then lenders don't lend, then only cash buyers buy....as a result, prices plummet as the universe of possible buyers is reduced by 80%.
Banks are not in the business of being landlords. There is a rental program though Fannie Mae, but it's not heavily utilized. Banks want to get the properties that they took back in foreclosure off their books as they are liabilities and don't bring in any money. They want to liquidate so that they have more money for new loans.