Eve, most foreclosures are listed in the MLS as the banks and corporations that now own these properties are interested in maximum exposure in order to sell the properties. However, I come from an agency that has both experience with foreclosures as well as residential resale properties. This has opened the opportunity up for me to become knowledgeable in both types of transactions as well. Each transaction will vary just like in privately owned properties for sale, so finding an agent with experience in both is helpful.
Ideally, referrals will definitley be your best option in choosing who you feel comfortable working with. What you must understand is that with foreclosures/pre-foreclosures, you are buying them "as is" with little wiggle room for negotiations on repairs. Also, "most" foreclosures are priced based on the "broker's price opinion" (completed by real estate agents comparing similar properties and adjusting the value based on condition)- what this means for you is that, most banks will list the properties at an adjusted price from "fair market value" because repairs are needed. So it should be a surprise if your "low ball" offer is rejected - make sure whichever agent you choose to work with pulls comparable homes for you to give you an idea of what "fair market value" would be (after repairs).
Any other questions, don't hesitate to contact me!
ERA Statewide Realty