Hey, Brooke. Congratulations on your decision to buy. With congress looking to extend the tax credit and interest rates still low through government subsidies, plus bargains galore, this is certainly the time to act and buy.
A few pointers:
1) Visit http://www.CDPE.com
and choose a Certified Distressed Property Expert in your area to help guide you through the process of buying distressed and repossessed properties. The ins and outs of these types of purchases will require expert knowledge and you are likely to find the best qualified answers among this group.
2) Under the guidance of a qualified CDPE agent, select an attorney to represent you and to help you interpret the documents you will be required to sign in order to buy a foreclosed home. The sellers of these properties are typically lenders who will ask you to sign disclosures and addenda not typical to 'regular' sales. Unless you or your Realtor are an experienced real estate attorney, one should be hired to interpret and review these documents for you.
3) There are no typical questions you can ask a bank. As previously stated, since they never lived and often not even inspected the property, the burden of KNOWING what you're getting into is yours and will be made only yours by virtue of the documents you will need to sign (after your attorney reviews them for you). Let me add that these documents contain "take it or leave it" language. If you don't agree with anything in the documents, your offer will not be accepted or even considered or countered. You will still need to know what you're getting into.
4) Work closely with qualified inspectors (typically part of a good Realtor team), who can guide you through what is needed to make your foreclosed home pass inspections.
5) You may need to be familiar with FHA203k loan if the property needs repairs you would rather finance with your purchase. Hire a qualified "direct lender" after interviewing several.
Remember: Luck is When Preparation Meets Opportunity (Mark Twain)