I would agree with Tony. We are in a Lenders Market, in that mortgage approvals are decreased and qualifications have become very strict.
There are some possible steps you can take to increase your loan approval amount, but I doubt these might only help if your pre-qualification is below 28 percent of gross income. On the HUD website, look on the right hand column for Housing Counseling and Home Buying Programs.
RealtyTrac lists homes on their site from Notice of Default through Real Estate Owned (REO). The REO homes are foreclosures and have completed the 180 day redemption period to be owned by the bank. Your BUYER'S AGENT (the only one that can legally work for your benefit) can approach any of the homeowners with homes on Trulia (realtytrac is on Trulia). Because you will have agreed to compensate your agent, you need to make it clear that you want the home seller to pay their commission. The agent can then negotiate with the homeowner for commission protection.
A sample Buyer's Agency Agreement is available on the website below. This can be for one day, one house, a week or any time period you are comfortable. There will be a protection period to protect the agent from you purchasing the home from the homeseller.
If you have any questions, I suggest sitting down with your agent and discussing this further.
Congrats on your decision to become a homeowner. Unfortunately QUICKLY is not a word used often when dealing with bank owned properties. Even if you are paying cash these sometimes take awhile to go through the red tape. Contrary to what many people think, banks aren't just giving away homes these days.
If you need something soon you are better off buying a traditional seller-listed home as sometimes the process with bank owned properties takes weeks maybe even months. If you insist on a foreclosure then hopefully your realtor can advise you in the bidding process to give you the best shot of getting the home. Then you can deal with the timeframe it takes to close on the purchase.
Sounds like you've found out through experience that in today's market the seller and the home itself matters just as much if not more as the qualifications of the buyer. Good luck!