when you're dealing with REOs - do not expect any kind of standard anything.
You may end up waiting a couple weeks for answers - you may end up waiting months for an answer.
Banks work at thier own pace, under thier own guidelines.
You really should have an agent who is experienced specifically in REO property to handle these types of things for you. It sounds like if you have an agent working for you - they either do not know, or did not bother to explain the process to you.
If you do not have an agent working for you on this - get one, asap. This is not something that even an educated and intelligent person can do easily - and honestly most agents even have a hard time doing it right.