Hello Janet. There are several ways to purchase a bank owned property. Foreclosure sale (last step in the foreclosure procedure), through an agent once the bank owned property is put on the market and advertised through the MLS, auction. The most risky way to purchase is at the foreclosure sale as you don't have an opportunity to inspect the property prior to placing a bid .
When you purchase a bank owned property that's listed in the MLS, the process is pretty much like buying any other house, except that many banks also have their own addenda that they insist of becoming part of the purchase agreement and the addenda can contain terms that are extremely favorable to the banks.
The banks usually try to sell their properties through the MLS first and if the house does not sell within 6-12 months, they hand them over to auctioneers. When you buy at one of those auctions at which the auctioneers sell huge blocks of bank owned properties, you usually have the opportunity to inspect the properties prior to the auction as the auction houses will hold the homes open for a couple of weekends prior to the auction date.
Whether or not the former owner has a right to redeem the property depends on how the property was foreclosed. If it was done by way of judicial foreclosure, the owner will have a right to redeem and how much time the owner has to redeem will vary (typically 3-12 months after the foreclosure sale). If the property was foreclosed via trustee sale, there's usually no right of redemption. I hope this helps.