The Cheapest Real Estate in Auburn, California

said on April 28th, 2012 filed under: Auburn, Localism, Neighborhood Profiles

This is the lowdown, and I do mean “low,” on the Auburn Greens Condominiums in Auburn, California.  Consistently, these units are the most affordable housing in Auburn.  So what’s wrong with them?  I’ll get to that in a minute.  First, an overview.

Three hundred condominiums were built in the early 70s in northwest Auburn, along Highway 49, between Bell Road and Dry Creek Road.  The condominums, all built on the same design, are in 4-plex units that range from 803 to 922 square feet.  There is a downstairs unit, also called a #1 that is, according to many, to be the most desirable.

There is an upstairs unit, and two side units, both two-story.  Here is one of the two-story units along the side.

Here’s a view of the dining area and kitchen inside of one of the two-story units:

Some of them are upgraded, “tricked out,” as we say.

The “Greens” are touted as “entry-level” housing or “investment” properties.”  I suppose both of those claims have merit, but there are numerous problems: advanced  age and poor condition, high association fees, low rents, falling prices, and a down-and-out neighborhood with a long “tradition” of crime, burglary, vandalism, and violence.

Most of the units are 40+ years old, and showing their age.  Unless a unit has been recently re-furbished, I can tell you, without even going inside, that there are going to be water damage and dry rot issues in the bathroom wall nearest the shower head and in the bathroom floor.  These units, though built on concrete slabs, have a long history of subteranium termites.  Windows are shot, sinks leak, etc.  Once again, some of them have been glammed up with granite countertops, hardwood floors, new cabinets and so on, but those are the exception.

You can paint lipstick on a pig, but . . .

Oddly, there are TWO Homeowners Associations, cleverly called Association One and Association Two.  Both of them have, in my opinion, high association fees for what you pay, what you rent, and what you get for your money.  How does $180 a month sound?  Yikes.  That’s higher than Lake of the Pines (currently $175 a month) and you get a LOT for your money at LOP.

I’ve sold a couple of Auburn Greens units, though it was several years ago when the market was hot.  I sold one for about $140,000 and one for about $115,000.  Because some “tricked out” units were going for $190,000, we thought we were stealing these properties.  Now?  Hold your breath.  For the past year, they have been selling for about $50,000.  I just saw two units that were sold this year for $40,000 and $41,000.  Ouch. If you want one, you are going to pay cash, because nobody is going to underwrite a mortgage on these units.  Except “Sal.”  He’ll give you a “hard money” loan.  Don’t be late with Sal’s monthly “vig.”  Sal has a rent-collector named Guido who carries a baseball bat.

Rents followed prices downhill.  At the height of the market, these little condos were renting for $850-950 month.  Now?  $500 to $700 per month.

From these figures, we can do some easy investor math.   $50,000 cost (cash–no mortgage interest deduction), $700 month rent (high end), $180 month association fees, $100 month maintenance and management fees, property taxes, taxes on the income..  Unless you are looking to show a loss on your tax returns, these units are not worth your time and energy.

First time buyers, entry-level buyers.  Auburn Greens can be rough and tumble, not the place, in my opinion for the elderly or to raise kids.  My advice.  Rent cheaply somewhere else, save your money for a down payment, buy a better home in a better neighborhood.




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