Good luck, however it is important not to have tunnel vision and rule out a good deal on a short sale or standard sale. Standard sales have a lot less competition and sometimes equal seller-motivation with less of a headache and more transparency as to what you are buying. In Brentwood, there are few foreclosures and many qualified buyers, so I would expect you to be able to get just as good of a deal on a standard sale with actual disclosures, the possibility for the seller to pay for repairs, and fewer headaches.
Short sales, especially approved ones or ones that have been on the market a while can also be good opportunities. Beware of additional liens that can become the buyer's responsibility to be paid by cash at closing. Also list prices are likely to be artificially low in order to generate offers when first listed. The bank may not approve these at the list price. In addition, there may be many offers driving up the final price, so make sure to get good advice and bid appropriately.
A few pieces of advice to remember:
1. Patience and consistent follow up on short sales. Often they take so long that most of the first offerors have moved on by the time it is approved, so you still have a decent chance, even if you are not the first one in.
2. Make sure your offer is extremely clean, meaning no credits for closing costs and other extras (especially with foreclosures). It must also be submitted to the listing broker as one PDF file with all documentation and offer forms provided in an organized fashion THE FIRST TIME. This conveys that you are going to be easy for the listing broker/bank to work with and that you have nothing to hide. Many of the listing brokers are doing a lot of volume and dealing with multiple offers on many listings and will already have a hard time staying organized and do not want to do extra work to piece your offer together.
3. Work with a lender who is well known and respected within the broker community in the area where you are submitting the offer or be willing to be pre-approved by the listing broker's preferred lender. Do not work with your cousin's roommate's friend no matter what rate he says he can get you. Not all pre-approvals are created equal - the lender you go with makes a ton of difference.
4. Make sure you have a buyer's agent who is professional and who knows the right things to say to the listing agent to move your offer forward. By that, I mean they need to understand their motivations, know how to schmooze, and it helps to be well-connected. The professionalism will show through in the selection of the lender and in the way the offer is presented. Especially with distressed properties, when an overworked listing broker may be looking for shortcuts in choosing the right offer, this becomes very valuable.