I'm not a Realtor but will try to at least partly answer the question and provide a suggestion. I do work with quite a few investors and get to see, at least partly, how they are able to obtain the "cream puffs" so quickly. There are a lot of dynamics involved in REO's and could take awhile to explain. Many REO homes in good shape end up with RE Agencies for public sale but they do go quickly. Some homes sold to Investors, and others go very quickly, seemingly before they are even listed, as the buyers already have relationships with Agents looking for them and the buyers are willing to pay asking price. Yes there is a timing component in all of this as well as relationships built between REO Agents and their clients.
You sound as if you are performing the search mostly on your own. Have you considered working with an Agent that specializes in REO's? When you search for the agency work with the one that handles a large number of REO's as they might have more extensive access to properties not only they are handling but also other REO sales agencies handle.
If you really want to jump the gun on a house sale, before it even is foreclosed on, learn about "Short Sales" and look into that arena. Unfortunately this is an exceptional time for short selling homes. Go to meetup.com and search for the local real estate investment clubs in your area. Many of these are free to attend and you can learn a great deal from the members about short sales and other techniques used. If nothing else you will meet some very nice people and generate a good set of networking contacts.
Emmanuel J. Scanlan
PS Inspection & Property Services LLC
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