I'm not a realestate pro so this is just my opinion. Like you I'm looking for an REO deal too. You don't have to work with a realtor to find REO's and when Connie says "most of these you can place a bid before it ever goes to auction " good luck getting the bank to accept a short sale unless you are a cash buyer because the property can't be financed or the property fell out of escrow. Why would a bank accept a short sale unless it was all cash, they can put it on the market and see what it brings in. You might subscribe to services like realtytrac and check websites of banks that have reo departments. Try socalmls.com and look for the listing agent. You have to do a lot of work yourself to find a listing agent or an REO. If you don't have someone representing you a listing agent will want to work prefer to work with you since they can double end the deal ( make twice the commission ). Sure you can work with a buyers agent but I would not show any loyalty to someone who is going to send you listings when you can do this work on your own. If Connie is the listing agent for the property, great work with her. Find the bank that owns the property and they often will already have an agent assigned to it. There are pro's and con's of working with listing agents and pro's and con's of having a buyers agent. Just don't fall for the let me represent you when you can do a lot of research yourself. Again. just my opinion and I'm sure realtors will disagree with what I have said here. Good luck.
it's true that most REO homes would not qualify you to get regular loans. If you're a cash buyer, you would have better chance. But there are also REO homes that are move-in conditions or with minimal works. Only realtors would have full access to this information through MLS because they pay the board to get this access. You should also keep it mind if you think you're getting good deals from auction, you're wrong, because banks would still want fair market value and on top of that, you're paying the company doing the auction extra fees.
There are a few different kinds of auctions. The most common one , and the one that you don't have to pay cash for, has their homes listed in the MLS. On most of these you can place a bid before it ever goes to auction. I would need to know which home you are looking at to help you with that. but yes Realtors can help you with auction homes.