You could hire an attorney and pay them to help you OR you could "hire" a Realtor and let the bank pay them for helping you.
Other than foreclosures, court ordered sales are few and far between. I've come across a few due to divorces, however your best bet is to get with a Realtor and sit down to go over your desires and needs. As far as being first, as stated previously, it's not always an advantage over others due to the way banks deal with offers.
I suggest you have your Realtor help you designate areas you like and then he or she can search for homes in that same area that may come on the market soon (i.e., pre-foreclosures). Your Realtor can even contact homeowners in those areas to see if anyone is interested in selling. When I was a child, my mom went to the grocery store. While she was gone, a Realtor knocked at the door asking if we were interested in selling because she had buyers interested in our floorplan. My dad allowed her to show the buyers the house and they made an offer right then and there. My dad signed the contract, contingent upon my mother's signature. Needless to say, there was a "go to your room" moment for me while my mom and dad "discussed" the issue. But in the end, we moved and the buyers were happy! Of course, that may be rare but it obviously does happen and I've always remembered that Realtor's "go-getter" attitude.
Your BEST option, if you're serious about purchasing a home is to get with a Realtor who knows the area and can help you through the process. That's the FIRST and foremost step in purchasing a home. Check with friends and family to see if they can refer someone to you or research sites, such as this one to find a good professional Realtor. Your SECOND step is to get pre-qualified for a loan. AFTER you find a Realtor, he or she will have you meet with the lender that he or she uses regularly. This is important. Please let me know if I can help or if you have any more questions.
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Keller Williams Realty