I'd be happy to help you with getting pre-qualified for a home mortgage. We (Wintrust Mortgage) can lend nationally because we a Federal Charter.
Please feel free to email, call or go here to learn more about the approval process: http://www.luettmortgagegroup.com/start/.
It sounds like you're on the right track here -- once you find that person, find out all your numbers and then work with a realtor who can help you find a home within your price point and other search criteria.
I know foreclosures and short sales generally like to see direct lenders involved on a deal, so that might be of help to you when getting your offer accepted as well. Best of luck!
Caroline Sells The City LA