TS and Agents with little or no REO experience...
Keep in mind the highest offers are not always the best offers, take into consideration closing dates, credit scores, buyers cash on hand, buyers credit, buyers compliance with the banks requirements to submit a complete offer package according to their requirements and all the contingencies and concessions, type of offers ie: cash vs. conventional mortgage vs. fha vs. fha 203k type construction loans have an effect on what makes an offer "The Best" offer.
Buyers agents aren't out there representing the sellers best interest like you say, that's silly what benefit would the buyers agent get out of that? Do you think there is some sort of big organized conspiracy?
Many buyers placing offers on REO properties tend to make ridiculously lowball offers. Keep your offers in line with current market values (not to far below and definitely not above unless you got cash and REALLY want the property) taking into consideration the condition of the property of course.
There is no rocket science involved here, the same rules apply as with any other real estate transaction with the exception that the banks have no emotional attachment to the properties and therefore will probably be a little more flexible with pricing which usually is already reflected in the base asking prices. By the way they ask the listing agent to establish a current market value by submitting BPO's for with suggested marketing and pricing in order to sell the property for 30, 60 and 90 days pricing models if they did not order an appraisal.
Don't turn this Q&A session into an excuse to bash Realtors or Banks, there are enough forums out there for that. Know the rules, guidelines and processes involved to come out on top.
Sometimes you may need to have an aggressive or I should say attentive agent that doesn't just fax offers and wait, start with an attentive agent preferably one familiar dealing with REO's... If the bank does not allow buyers/agent to present each offer personally, your agent should add an offer presentation sheet as part of the offer 1st page with status explaining date and details of offer that was presented signed off on by an authority from the bank stating the offer was accepted or declined which should also contain a place for them to make a counter offer or reason for simply declining.
There are ways to ensure your offer is getting presented, the buyers agent must ensure the listing agent is indeed presenting your offer to the seller (bank) and doing so in the best light. Although they are not suppose to, many of these bank agents are difficult to deal with and some of them wait to push through their own offers to get both ends of a deal, that is unfortunate and illegal. It is important to use an experienced agent "good agent" on the buyers side to represent your interests.