FORECLOSURE REALITY CHECK.... Seasoned investors who buy foreclosures know the REO manager at the bank and get "off market" deals. They never have to bid or find a place to learn what's available.
FOR ALL OTHERS: The only "sellers market" in america is the foreclosure market. Don't expect any deals from a foreclosure as the bidding process brings 20-30 people to bid on almost every deal. A deal that was already priced at market. For government foreclosed homes, by law, they have to be priced "at market".
The REO manager has a short list of "cash/close in 2 day buyers", they always get the first right to bid. Then they have to wait for the "public auction" Which drives up those prices. After a 30-60 day period. Then the REO picks the best bid. Sometimes, only sometimes does a REO manager take a property directly to a buyer he knows peronsally. Why should he, he has a bunch of people bidding and driving up the prices.
My REO manager friend likes to joke about all the "first timers" who continue to drive up the bid when they don't hear anything from the bank. Every time I see the "how come I haven't heard from the bank about accepting my foreclosure bid after 30+ days" on trulia, I have to let out a chuckle because he's so right. For those newbies, this is real. They know that when you don't hear from them that a large percentage of people drop a second or third offer higher than the previous one. **WARNING, YOU ARE BEING TAKEN ADVANTAGE OF HERE**
You want a deal on a property right, everyone wants that.... So the moral of this story is:
1. the 60 days you have to wait to hear from a REO, you could have made 2 or 3 better deals with a property that has been on the market for a long period of time. Any realtor can help you drop a crazy offer.
2. You are attempting to make a deal in a house covered in a cloud of bad energy, don't be surprised when it rubs off. Personally I stay away from these for this reason entirely.
3. One way to get a deal is dropping a hand written note on ANY house in a neighborhood you want to buy that says "my girlfriend and I want to buy a house in this neighborhood and yours looks cute from the outside. Do you know anyone that is looking to sell?" I always get responses, better prices and positive energy into the home.
INSPECT the property and its history. The home may be demolished inside, there could be mold, there could be a cracked slab. I would also talk to neighbors to discover if they know anything about the home and why the prior owners let it go.
Also, check the buyer's fees assessed by the auction house and calculate that into your maximum bid.