I have done a lot of relos (particularly from NY), work with investors, and short sales. There is no magic bullet as it pertains to short sales or not. All short sales are not created equal. The bank servicer (BofA, Wells, Citi, etc.) often does not own the loan. The holder of the note determines whether or not they will approve a contract. Since BofA, for example, services loans where they are the owners and where they are not. Therefore, each short sale is different. It's not as if we can say, "oh,it's BofA, so they'll take x."
The best tip, for equity, is to not fall in love with the house. Be flexible about what you will accept. That, is, however, a compromise. Your home is also where you will make a bundle of memories that you will talk about 20, 30 and more years from now. If you find the home that is perfect for your lifestyle, it might not also be the property where the seller is the most motivated. If you seek out motivated sellers, you might find some opportunities, but be prepared to make the tradeoffs.
Find a REALTOR who can rock and roll with your priority list; one that understands your "must haves" from your "would like to haves" and one that considers negotiating more than emailing or faxing an offer.
How you choose to commute to NYC will impact your choices of location. Bus? Auto? Train? Ferry? Where in NYC do you need to go and what method of transportation best supports that?
Feel free to reach out to me if I can assist you further.