Good morning, Brian
"bank properties" as in bank-owned properties, are the same as any other sale. Only difference is the seller is a bank. Short Sales don't have as high a success rate, but the discount can be larger and a large % of home buyers are choosing short sales and bank owned property somewhat equally.
Best deals are where there is a glut of what you want in your price range. While I almost never suggest a buyer agency agreement, many short sales are only noted as such in the agent remarks of the mls. Unfortunately that makes them harder for the general public to identify them. Sometimes a different property is a better buy than the short sale.
If you want a cheap trashy house that needs work, you can find them pretty far North and South of Seattle. If you want a nice house to live in that is closer to everything and also a short sale, there are some, but even at discount they can be $700,000 to $800,000.
Pierce County has the most newer home short sales at affordable prices. Builders everywhere are bargaining, but 85% to 90% of value is often "a great deal" here in the Seattle area in the prime living areas. 30% under peak and 10% to 15% below recent comps.
Depends on the strength of your cash position also. Hard to find a buyer who qualifies to the extent needed to get a really great deal. I'll be listing one next week in the $350,000 range, townhome in Green Lake, that my client bought in foreclosure for $260,000. He paid cash which made it very simple.
Sometimes it's hard for the buyer of your property, if you are going to turn around and sell it quickly, to get financing on a short flip like that. So it depends what you are going to do with it after you purchase it.
I woke up today at 5:30 a.m. with a splitting headache. I'll come back later with my glasses on and check the spelling :) If you have any other questions, ask them in the comments here or shoot me an email.
Here's a peice I wrote on the short sale process from the buyer's perspective. I wrote it for a client who was in escrow on a short sale last year. It closed and it took 90 days. That's is still the expectation. for the most part. There's another under it that you may find of interest written by Jillayne.
There are many other posts over at RainCityGuide that you may find helpful.