Paula - Great idea in this market that is flooded with foreclosures -- and I DO mean flooded. Go to http://hotpads.com/ to see foreclosures alongside the regular sales in Grass Valley and anywhere else in the US. You will will shocked at the number.
If you can pay a rent that is the equivalent of the home owner's mortgage payment/prop taxes/insurance, then many sellers would have a HUGE incentive to offer you a rent-to-own option.
Good luck! The country needs more folks who are willing to actually pay for their housing.... more