You might have noticed they aren't telling you WHERE the homes are at... no address for you to check out either. I have seen people buy homes in some areas for REALLY cheap prices (not $1 really, but way below market) and then found out there were thousands of dollars of tax liens and city liens on them, way more than what the property could be sold for, or else it had asbestos shingle on it, or the house was slated for demolition by the city, etc. You have to find out what you are really getting, in other words.
My experience is that most of those "too good to be true" offers are just fishing for buyers, they want your contact info, so you go to a "web capture" page, and then they try to sell you something else. So it's the old "bait and switch" scheme. "Oh, that house is sold, we don't have any more of the $1 houses, but can we interest you in this?" And then, of course, you'll find your name and email address have been sold to several hundred online marketing companies!
I have to agree, the best procedure is to find a good, experienced agent to represent you, one who knows the area where you are looking. There is no substitute for "feet on the ground" knowledge of the area when it comes to real estate. Interview a few agents in the area and hire someone to be your buyer's agent, especially if you want a short sale or foreclosure, as there are many pitfalls to beware of, and you want someone looking out for your interests!
Sharon in Oregon