Hi Brooke. I am a local Charlotte REALTOR who specializes in helping buyers purchase foreclosed properties. The process is very similar to that of a traditional sale with the exception of a few things. First, the home is being purchased in "AS-IS" condition meaning that the bank will not make repairs to the property. You should hire an inspector to check the place out however know that the bank will not make any found items. Should the condition of the home change significantly between contract and closing, the bank will often re-negotiate. I had an A/C unit stolen from a home in January and it was written about in Reuters.
You also will need to be approved for the mortgage up front and I recommend going as far as your lender will allow without an accepted contract (called loan committment). In a traditional sale, if you cannot get financing, the seller will let you out with our earnest money. In a bank sale, the only contingency allowed usually is home inspection. Once you're past the inspection period, you are at risk of losing your EMD.
Most times, the bank specifies the EMD required, will require that you use their closing attorney, and sign a bunch of as-is documents.
While you do not need an agent to represent you, I highly recommend someone who has been through this process before. Many agents in Charlotte have not done a lot of REO or HUD foreclosures and their clients are misrepresented. Work with someone who knows the process and will work for you.
Finally, the price. I just wrote a blog on this but in summary, it depends on many factors how the price was set. Sometimes the bank's rep (either a broker or appraiser) have never stepped foot in the home so the price may be inflated. Other times, there may be multiple mortgages or other liens that may cause the price. Depending on who held the note before (if the former buyer had a conventional loan vs. a VA loan), that will factor in the price. You need to make an offer based on the condition. The bank will, in most cases counter (unless there's already an offer) and you can go from there.
That's a basic rundown of the process and I haven't even scratched the surface.