First of all, it is not up to the agent to stop offers from coming in. They must present all valid offers to the seller, including back-up offers, unless instructed by the client in writing that they do not want to entertain any more offers. If the agent says 'no', have them send your agent a written statement from the seller that they will not entertain any offers. It's surprising how many agents are not aware of this.... more
Count me as another agent that thinks you should pick an agent to represent you first and then work with him/her to help you locate properties and learn all you can about them. This way your agent has loyalties to you versus a specific property.
Take a look at the responses from agents to other questions on this forum to get a good idea of who you think is competent and interview 2-3 to find one you are comfortable with. I will not call myself a foreclosure expert because I believe every transaction teaches you something new. Given that however, I would say about 75% of my sales last year were foreclosures or short sales and I do represent a bank in the sale of their REO properties so I've been involved on both sides of the transaction. I also co-developed and co-author the Twin Cities "lender mediated" sales reports the local Realtor association puts out that detail the scope and impact of foreclosures and short sales in our market.
I purchased an REO for myself in September and have been very happy! I offered on 6 houses over a period of 18 months before I found the right combination of price and home but am very satisfied with my choice, though the transaction was very frustrating at every step... even with all my experience.