I'm sorry to say that using some of these services that provide you with this type of information is often a bit misleading (trying to word it so I don't get sued). It's important to understand that a notice of default is issued by the lender when a homeowner is 1-3 months past-due on their payments. They may be attempting loan modification or even considering a short sale. This website explains the timeline: http://www.all-foreclosure.com/timeline.htm.
It would be easy for me to set up a website that keeps its "eye" on that property to see if it progresses, but you can't really bid on it at this time. I tried a website like that before, and they are only selling public information. When you progress through their stages, you find that most are already sold before they become "available" on the site. Using an experienced Realtor is your best bet in finding a good property. Also, please know that in So. CA right now, there is a sort of feeding frenzy for any properties listed as REOs (foreclosures) or short sales. There is a perception that all of these are great deals, and people made bids like crazy. I looked at one today for a client -- first day on the market, listed at $250K, short sale in Fullerton, and by 3 pm, they had 15 offers at over $350K. It will take persistence in finding a home in your price range -- but I'd love to try to help you. I have clients who have made multiple offers on multiple properties. If you have cash or a good downpayment, your offers are certainly considered before someone who has only 3.5% to put down on an FHA loan (not all properties qualify) and have to depend on the appraisal to get the loan. I think your questions would be best answered by voice communication. Feel free to give me a call at 714.296.0513. I work the Inland Empire all the time. Our agency is in top 1% of Century 21 offices worldwide and I'm an award-winning agent. My husband and I would love to help you. Please check our website for testimonials, etc. Email to Bonnie@BonnieTheRealtor.com or call 714.296.0513. I'd be happy to explain all this to you "in person." Thanks. Good luck. Bonnie Scribner, Century 21 Discovery