There are different types of foreclosures. As a first time home buyer, I would avoid those on the Court House steps. The REO's, real estate owned buy the bank would be your better route. These are most often listed with real estate companies and, contrary to popular belief, can be negotiated. The up side of dealing with a bank is that there is no emotion involved. If the numbers work, you have a deal. The downside is that what you see, or don't see, is what you get. You must do your due diligence. Get an inspection regardless of the age or apparent condition of the house. Know what comparable sales in the area are. The foreclosure may not be a bargain if there was a large mortgage on the property. Find out, ususally from the county clerk, what the amount of foreclosure is. Be prepared to do work, both physically and mentally. These house are usually in poor condition having been trashed by the angry previous owner and may not even qualify for a mortgage. You would do yourself a great service in finding a buyer's agent to help you through the process.
If you can get yourself a qualified Realtor to work with you and represent you as a Buyer's Agent, you have an equal chance to negotiate a good deal on a home whether it is a foreclosure (or Bank Owned - also known as REO) or a home that is being sold by a homeowner.
It all comes down to doing research on what the value of homes are in the area you are interested in.
I just worked with a first-time Buyer. We looked at homes that were being sold by homeowners and then came upon a foreclosure that was Bank-owned. After researching neighborhood values, knowing what repairs she would need to do to the home, she ultimately purchased the home for almost $40,000 under what comparable homes were selling for. (her costs for improvements will probably come to under $10,000) This was the best choice for her.
So, it all depends on what is available in your area of interest. Look at all your options, and educate yourself so you can make the decision that best suits your needs.
All the Best to you!