Great question! I would advise that you get a Realtor. A lot of the bank owned properties cannot be purchased without a Realtor. Also, a Realtor can search specifically for these and can be notified when new ones come on the market. As a buyer you do not need to pay for the Realtor's services, in most cases, because we are paid by the seller out of the closing. Further, having a Realtor doing the leg work for you can save you hours and hours of your valuable time and protect you from having a bad purchasing experience.
If you need any help, my contact info is below.
Keller Williams PDX Central