There are a lot of good answers below with good information. You should also understand several more issues with foreclosures:
1) just because the property is a "foreclosure" does not mean that it is a good deal. For example, the house may have been listed at $1.4M before foreclosure, and after foreclosure is listed at $999K, but in today's market and in the condition of the property, it may only be worth $800K, so the $999K asking price is not realistic. A good agent should be able to explain the specific market to you.
2) You are going to have to be willing to accept the property in as-is condition. While there some banks (some of the ones that I work with) that will make some repairs and updates to foreclosed homes, the vast majority of them do nothing to the house.
3) You are going to have to have your financing lined up or proof of funds. No bank which is selling property will entertain an offer if this is not lined up.
If you have more questions, please feel free to let me know.
Investment Property Specialist
Evergreen Real Estate
I see I anwered a previous question specifically related to foreclosures in Midwest Club. I apologize. I personally have expereince buying foreclosures and have assisted other clients to do the same. Quite recently, I assisted one in Oak Park with the purchase of a foreclosure. It would be helpful to understand what you are looking for and where you would like to buy. You can search foreclosures using the web reference below.
Please read my blog
I would suggest when selecting a realtor to work with you ensure that the realtor is actively working in the area you are interested in. Also, the only way you can specialize in an area is by experience so make sure they are able to provide MLS statistics.
Good Luck !
Going with just "any" Realtor will not do in this situation.
Best of Luck,