This is all great advice form some knowledgeable agents. The only things that I have to add are that:
1) Business cards are not really a good indicator of the number of showings. I don't leave business cards in foreclosures, as I know that generally no one from the bank or the listing agents side will be by to pick them up.
2) Everyone here continues to reference the list price, but the LIST price is truly an arbitrary number. You and your agent should really focus on the VALUE of the home which in this case would be the price you would pay for it, plus the repairs needed to make it liveable - relative to other recent sales in the neighborhood.
You should also be sure that you are clear with your lender (if there is one) about the condition of the property. Some appraisals will require that the property be in liveable condition which may include at least basic appliances and sometimes more.
Your agent's advice is good. You should be prepared to offer YOUR highest and best without feeling bullied by the bank - and be prepared to move on if that doesn't work out.
Best of luck to you!
In a seller's market this happens all the time, but in Georgia it's rare. What has happened is that the price has likely gotten to the point that everyone is a buyer. Your agent is giving you good advice.
Many of my buyers are deciding that Short Sales and Foreclosures are not for them, for this very reason.
Buying a foreclosure homes was, not too long ago, mostly left to experienced "thick skinned" investors. Now, about half of home sales (in Las Vegas) are foreclosures or short sales and I do sympathize with you and many other buyers looking to purchase a primary residence. You may want to only look at "normal" resale homes instead of foreclosures. Many first time home buyers also feel overwhelmed with the amount of repairs and cleanup required on some the foreclosure homes as well.
The banks are pricing homes at prices that are low enough to get multiple offers within the first week or two. Have you ever been shopping on the day after Thanksgiving? I think they call it black friday? People line up and camp out the night before in the freezing cold to be the first in line for the best deals. Some people wait in line for hours, but still don't get the special sale price on the item they wanted most...ehh not a perfect analogy, but what I'm trying to say is that if you're looking at bank owned homes vs non bank owned because the bank owned homes are priced WAY lower, you've got to expect a whole different experience.
It can be sometimes be difficult (Frustration wise- were you prepared for this?) to buy a home and if it is truly a great home and awesome price, chances are many others will think so as well alot of times and multiple offers will go in which will start to increase the listing price, consider it like a paperwork auction of sorts. Your agent should have all the info (multiple offer situation, etc) they can prior to submitting offer (this is not always possible), but yes indeed many homes sell for more than the list price. I am sorry this has been a horrible experience, I hope it works out for you. Best of luck.
There is nothing unethical about prospective buyers bidding a price up. It is no more unethical for the bank (or any seller) to get more than list price for the property than it is for a buyer to get a property for under the listed price. The pendelum swings both ways, and it simply depends upon the asking price, comps and willing buyers for the property. Sellers will seek the highest the market can bring them. Sometimes that means more than list; sometimes it means less.
If you want to read a crazy feed on this, read below. You'll soon pick up that "acer" is a conspiracy buff - but lots of professionals (even ones I normally disagree with) AND buyers will tell you this is common place.
Heck, in the past couple months I had one CASH buyer who never bid less than asking price, could close in 2 weeks with no contingencies... and HE WAS BID OUT, a couple of times. I assume you're a more normal buyer w/financing contingencies and the like?
GOOD LUCK, hang in there - it will be worth it, I promise