2. You'll get a notice if the property is listed for auction, time frame will vary but you would have considerable notice.
3. You should continue pay your rent to the current owner of the property. If you stop paying rent, the current owner would still have the right to evict you and that would effect your ability to purchase and rent other property.
So find a Realtor to help you and take a look at what else it out there.
Before you start looking you'll also need a preapproval from well known lender if you want your offer taken seriously. Go to: http://www.ThirdFederal.com they are a lender with low lender related fees and low interest rates.
Good luck .