Joe, Foreclosures are properties that have been vacated, possibly the waterlines weren't drained property or the house wasn't wintereized right away. Kitchens can be removed, toilet fixtures and I have even seen radiators removed. This type of property would require and FHA 203(k) financing program because conventional financing will not get you through underwriting as the home has to be functioning. That means that the furnace, hot water tank, water lines, electrical all are in working order. The mininum amount of monies required to get these properties up and running would be in the area of 10% and upwards. It all depends upon when the property was seized and was the property properly contained and secured. If not, there are alot of hidden secrets in the walls that generally won't be figured out until all the systems are active. These types of properties are sold at bargain prices but require work.
Short Sales on the other hand, are generally in operating condition because the homeowner usually (most of the time, I should say) is in the home just prior to the closing. Your cost for repair work is more visible when it is a short sale.
If you are looking for a two unit building, and it is a short sale or foreclosure, the bank will want to make sure that you qualify to carry the mortgage and costs to cure while getting the property repaire/replaced.
If the property is a condominium, I would place caution to the wind and look at who is managing the building, have their been any special assessments, what does the engineer report say about the building, request and review the board minute meetings for any anticipated improvements, as well as looking at how many units are rented and how fast did that entire building closeout when it first went on the market. Those are critical questions that need serious answers because it will cost you alot of money down the road in resale and special assessments.
If the property is a two flat and you want to convert to a single family property, know that you will need architectural drawings even if you go under the City of Chicago's HOmeowner Assistant Program with the Building Department. It is different when you are considering a single family home and doing interior modifications, moving of walls, etc. That would qualify under their program.
When looking you need to consider structural, possible code violations, water pressure/volume, mechanical. Then consider your carrying costs to cure while the property is being work on to get it into shape to occupy as well as the cost factor to repair/replace. Once you have arrived at those figures, you will have a better idea of your investment your time frame.
When a property is a short sale, the lender usually wants to close in under 30 days and that is pretty hard to do with an FHA 203(k) loan. Foreclosures, the bank may understand and give you a 45 day to 60 day closing time frame. I have seen extentions given on both type of properties for financing. It all depends upon what you are look for.
I hope this helps. Remember Joe, it only looks tough and is hard to obtain when one doesn't do their homework.
Reach out if you need some help and congrats on making a smart move in your life.