As of this writing, there are three detached single family homes for sale under $400K in El Cerrito, and all of them are short sales.
When I raised the search parameters up to $450k, there were 8.
5308 Mono is bank-owned, 3 BR/2 BA for $439,900 (bank foreclosed at $395k)
1503 Liberty is a regular sale, for $450k
The other 6 are all short sales.
Unless you have the patience of Job, please lower your expectations regarding how quickly you can get an answer on an offer you make for a short sale. It becomes doubly difficult (and sometimes impossible) to get short sale approval for properties with more than one loan. Sometimes, we can get approval if the lenders are the same....
If you have very specific requirements regarding type of home, budget range, location, conditions, etc. get a good realtor to work for you and do the research. He/she can advise you on the the story behind the picture so that you can make an informed decision on which properties to review.