Short sales are not always the best deals. If you put an offer on an approved SS and it also has an approved SS on the 2nd, the process is pretty fast. Most banks after approval are just waiting for an offer. However most SS are as-is and most banks won't pay for any reports (that sellers usually pay for), or repairs so it's not always the best deal. They are usually priced at market value so with a buyer coming in for all that, it's much better to look for standard sales. REO's are the same situation but are usually priced below market value so the banks can get them off their books, so it's a better deal. An REO already has the price they're willing to take. Again, they are usually as-is but with a good price, the difference of a buyer paying for the reports isn't that big of a deal. If major repairs are needed you can always renegotiate for the bank to fix and if they don't, you have the option to walk away but you will be out the money for the inspection.
With that being said, if you want to list your home as a SS, make sure your dealing with a Realtor who knows the negotiation process and knows how to do it. If you're wanting to buy a SS, make sure you also have a good Realtor who looks up comps and goes in at a fair price. Non approved SS can take anywhere from a week to months. When you write your offer make sure to have your Realtor write in the purchase agreement that you will give your deposit upon BANK APPROVAL not sellers approval. That can tie up your money and will be cashed. The bank will open escrow and that money will be sitting in an escrow account tied up so if it takes months for bank approval, that money is taken out of your bank acct. If you write it that you will give the deposit check once you have BANK APPROVAL then you can still look at other properties and your money is not tied up. That way if a standard sale or something else comes along you like better and your offer is accepted, then you have that money to open escrow on the accepted home and can walk away from the one you've been waiting on. However, your Realtor will need to let the other agent know you've been accepted on another one so they can let the bank know. Hope this information is helpful.