Generally, the property will be listed as a short sale first and then if it does not sell, it will go to foreclosure. So you could bid while a short-sale is in process. However, getting through to the lender during this time is hard even for an agent; as it may not be in your state and it has to go through a variety of hands and asset managers. If you need an agent or a quote on a mortgage loan, give me a call. There are many programs out there.