I believe the ins and outs of short sales, notice of default, foreclosures, etc, are very complicated and should be explained in person. The ones I included below are REOs and in Foreclosures, not Short Sale, Notice of Default, etc.
As you probably have already seen on recent Marin IJ article (more to come per reporter with whom I just talked to), there are many short sales and some foreclosures in certain parts of Marin.
Interesting thing is that although the articles concentrate more on affordable housing (mainly condos/town homes in certain areas which was much harder to reach but the softer market makes it more manageable), there are also distressed properties in mid-range and even high-end homes that are coming out in if not daily basis, weekly basis; again, more concentrated in certain areas. I have a couple short sales at this moment which I will be very happy to show you if you are interested. .
Foreclosure websites can have misleading information where the price listed could be due to many reasons (specific liens, list price, amount owed, etc) and the condition and comp of the properties should be researched to protect your interest. One of my clients just went to an auction and came back empty handed - I actually took him to see the property (listed on MLS) knowing that's what he planned to do so he could have an idea of what he was getting since he thought that's where to get the best deals and I was not going to dissuade him. He came back and sounded like the eventual price was not something he was willing to pay in in an Auction - much risk involved.
Be sure you get professional advise when you dive into short sale/foreclosure route. Make sure the comps are done with certain degree of forecasting. Depending on the status of the property, there are also different strategies in going about purchasing one. Be familiar with the area you are purchasing. As an investment property, do make sure that what you purchase meet your investment goal, whether it's for appreciation or cash flow purposes.