Banks don't want to handle sales on their own, and usually hire a real estate broker to do it; therefore, most REO' s and short sales will be on the MLS, and accessible to any member of the Multiple Listing system.
Each purchase, whether it be short sale, auction or REO property, has its pitfalls to avoid, and it's best to team up with somebody (i.e., a Realtor) experienced in the process.
It sounds like you have been doing some homework regarding being fully aware of the property liens; also take into consideration any unpaid taxes and/or assessments.
Just know that purchasing ANY property (foreclosure or through the original owner) under market value (preferably at least 20% - 30 % below market) can be a good deal for you, but you must take into consideration the condition of the property and the potential repairs. REOs, short sales, and foreclosures are not automatically the best deal just because they are foreclosure properties. You can often, especially in this market, get a better deal just dealing directly with distressed owners.
One of the pitfalls of purchasing foreclosed property is buying into blindly, since the new owner will have no knowledge of the history of the house, and will, in most cases, be selling it "as is".
That's not to say you can't eventually find a pretty spectacular deal on a short sale, REO or foreclosed property. Just make sure you do your due diligence, that you understand you will be likely competing with multiple offers, and that you may have to wait a long time to find out whether or not your offer is accepted.
Here is a free resource from the Chicago Tribune. It updates daily freshly auctioned property: http://chicago.chicagotribune.il-foreclosure.com/?src=ctcobrand You have the option to purchase further information, although, with the address alone, you will be able to dig deeper into public tax records.
As an aside, Rogers Park was becoming saturated with condo conversions; I wouldn't be surprised if with the help of a crafty Realtor you couldn't find some great deals to purchase from distressed would-be flippers.