As others have mentioned, a Realtor is your best source for buying a foreclosure because we are dealing with
many short sales and foreclosures and have experience guiding you through the process.....a foreclosure would actually be much easier to buy instead of a short sale because the bank already owns it and the price has already been reduced(usually)....They will be ready to get the inventory off their books by the years end.....Also, in our MLS, we can just run the homes that are in foreclosure to send to you.....Good luck!
You have some great advise and the best one is to get an experienced Realtor to guide you through. Marilyn - the post below, has made an excellent point about maybe not only focusing in on just foreclosures. Consult with a Realtor - let that person in on what is really is you are trying to do. Is it a fabulous deal or do you need a project to occupy yourself with?
Also, your Realtor can help you regarding financing. Most foreclosures and REOs are sold "as is " and some loan programs require a house to be sold at a certain level.......what happens if your loan company requires repairs to be made? Your Realtor can address all these problems with you.
However, is there a specific reason you're looking for a foreclosure? Foreclosures aren't the only deals out there, and aren't always the best deals. Here's a blog post I wrote on the subject a couple months back. I'm not discouraging it (as I mentioned, I bought one in the last year), but I just don't like to see people limit themselves.
The Banks and the Gov. have created web sites to provide information on the purchase process used by each of them plus you are able to see their listed properties for sale and have access to a lot of information.
It's Free and updated constantly...Sites like..
.... http://www.wamuproperties.com/ .... http://www.hud.gov/homes/index.cfm
The links to all of these Bank and Gov. sites can be found here.... http://www.mortgagenewsdaily.com/wiki/REO_Database_List.asp ... http://www.biggerpockets.com/bank-reo.html
Good luck, Dunes