NOTE: Although most of the REALTORS I know do not charge the buyer anything, I am aware of agents who do charge the buyer a retainer fee upon signing the representation agreement...this is not typical, but it does occur.
I too am a foreclosure specialist...with the market we have had these past few years, a great many of us have become certified experts in the area of foreclosures and short sales.
The very best way to find more in-depth information on a property (whatever the type) is through a licensed REALTOR. With the hiring of a REALTOR to represent your interests, you will get a multitude of services...one of which is a thorough investigation into the details of a particular property be it a foreclosure, short sale (preforeclosure), or a regular sale). A REALTOR knows how to find out details that a typical buyer doesn't know. A professional knows the right questions to ask of the seller's agent or representative to get the information that is desired and other details are found in a variety of places...some accessible to laymen and some not. Professional REALTORS have the training, knowledge, and experience and are in the best position to find out the most about a property before you make an offer on it.
Find a REALTOR you like and trust and let them do the legwork for you!
Becky Carr, REALTOR
Coldwell Banker APEX REALTORS LLC
I would suggest selecting a REALTOR to represent you through the process; however, "Foreclosures" are usually sold on the court house steps in the county in which the property is located.