There are certain STEPS, as you are aware:
1. Get Pre-Approved; you can't do anything without a Pre-Approval letter in your hand. This will also tell you how much you can afford.
2. Select a Realtor to represent you; you will need one for either a Shortsale or an REO.
3. Have the Realtor do a search, based on your parameters.
4. Have the Realtor do a CMA on the chosen property. This will determine the Market Value and therefore your Offer.
5. Have your Realtor draw up your Offer and submit it.
6. When the Bank has accepted your offer, you will contact your Lender and arrange to have the Loan accepted.
7. The Bank will order an Appraisal, which you will pay for.
8. You will (or your Realtor) arrange for your Inspections. Your Realtor will have included Contingencies for Loan, Appraisal and Inspections, to protect you. This he will do, whether or not you are buying AS-IS.
9. If there are any issues with the Contingencies, you will work with your Realtor to resolve them.
10. You will release your Contingencies and wait for the Close of Escrow.
Good luck and may God bless