Thanks for asking such a great question...the price range you are in is a brisk market, and (as I have stated before) the cherries are picked early on. Strategy is critical, and the sooner you and your Realtor can implement a few key pieces, you will be able to stand apart from your competition.
Unfortunately, not all buyers and offers are created equal. You can only create as strong of an offer as your circumstances will permit. Luckily, and especially for the price range you are in, you have great buyer credentials.
You will want your Realtor to craft an offer that includes the following components:
-Pre-approval letter from your lender. Hopefully you are working with one already. Be sure to allow your lender to verify your income, assets, credit score, and employment in advance, and make sure that your pre-approval letter states it. Also, since you have such an impressive credit score, ask your lender to put your mid-FICO on your pre-approval letter. If you want to go a step further, ask your lender to provide you with an Automated Underwriting approval (sometimes referred to as a DU approval) printout. Some REO's will require that you pre-qualify with a specific lender - so be aware of this requirement if it exists for the property you want. As an aside, you will probably be using a conventional loan program given your resources for a downpayment -- but for anyone else reading this, FHA or VA/CalVet financing, or the use of downpayment assistance will be looked at as less favorable by a bank. Do what you can...as I stated you can only create as strong of an offer as your circumstances allow.
-Proof of funds to close. Because you have a downpayment, provide proof that you have liquid funds.
-Copy of your deposit check for at least 1% of the purchase price. If you are comfortable with offering a larger deposit - do it.
-Short timeline to close your escrow. Ideally 30 days or less...occasionally a bank will not be able to close as soon as your timeline...let them be the ones to extend that time period...of course, verify with your Realtor and lender that you can close in 30 days or less. Some REO's have a liquidated damages provision in their paperwork - a daily penalty if you close escrow late. I have seen this up to $400/day.
-Allow that the title/escrow be the company of the seller's choosing.
-Do not ask the seller to purchase a home warranty for you.
-Do not ask for a pest inspection report or clearance. Most REO's get pest inspections in advance. If a pest inspection was performed, there should be a tag posted in the garage (or if not in the garage, look for the water heater as it is usually near that) from the pest company. The tag will be dated when the inspection was performed, and the company's contact info will be on the tag. These reports are public information - call and request a copy of the report. If there are substantial repairs that you want to ask the seller to complete prior to closing, cap the cost at a specific dollar amount.
-Be prepared to remove your contingencies early. The default timelines in the standard CA Residential Purchase Agreement are 17 days to complete your inspections and get your financing in order. If you can work on a speedier time line (like 10 days or less), this will be looked at favorably.
-If you can pay your own closing costs - don't ask for a credit.
As far as other strategy elements - get to the property as soon as you can once it hits the market...the good ones go quickly and with multiple offers. Make sure your Realtor analyzes the market value of the property as many listings today are priced artificially low to attract lots of attention. The sellers are looking for the "highest and best" offer - which is the best combination of net proceeds ($ from the sale) and terms.
I think that about covers it. Good luck to you!