As the others have answered, it is possible to perhaps negotiate a short sale with the owner if it has not gone too far into the foreclosure process. However, this can be very time consuming and frustrating. It is a misconception that if a home is going into foreclosure that the owner owes more than it's worth. It is possible that there has been some hardship and the owner simply cannot make his payment. In this case it is possible that a short sale would not be required. This would depend on how much the seller owes vs what you are willing to pay. In other words if the home is worth $100,000 and you are willing to pay that much and the seller owes less than that, there would be enough funds at closing to pay off the loan and no lender approval of the sale would be required.
Here is something to consider though. If the home IS going into foreclosure and if the loan was guaranteed by Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac or another entity, there is no motivation on the part of the lender to approve a short sale. Why?? Because the lender will be reimbursed by the guaranteeing entity for any losses - however, if they short sale it to you, they cannot recoup those losses.
It's a vicious cycle and having the assistance of a REALTOR who is qualified to guide you through the process is priceless. Not all agents and/or REALTORS have experience in handling foreclosures or short sales and it's very important for you to ask what kind of experience they have. Bill and I specialize in foreclosures and will be more than happy to assist you. If you have a particular home in mind, let us know and we will see where it is in the process and do whatever we can to help.