Unfortunately, in a pre-foreclosure situation, the bank (lender) has all the power. Pretty much everything must be run by the bank. And possibly the most frustrating of all, is the fact that most banks simply don't have the staff to give answers in a timely manner. I heard recently that one national lender has 3000 applications a month coming in for short sale requests ... with a staff of ONE to handle them all. I try to educate all of my buyers as to the possible lengthy delays and quite often never-occuring closings. It can be quite frustrating, as you've found out. I commend you for sticking it out for 7 long months! Most buyers would have moved on to another property. With the price of home inspections, appraisals, etc., you already have invested money in this property, so that makes it even more frustrating for you. There's not much advice I can give you except to make sure to work with a good buyers agent and a reputable lender, who'll both help you through the process, aggravating as it is.
If by chance you actually get to a closing, make sure you have your agent and/or title company check for water/sewer liens, as I have heard of buyers recently who'd gotten stuck with HUGE water/sewer bills from the previous owner. Often times banks will not pay these, so be careful to check. Your agent will know how to find out for you. Good luck with your home search. If you have any questions, please feel free to email me.