First and foremost it is important not to be lured by agents or big investors. These days there is a lot of talk about coming into the system without any operating cash or credit. This is true, but then the right method of funneling into such properties is important.
Foreclosure is a great way of earning but then it implies that a buyer settles for a price less than the original, it is thus important to have legitimate backing from a regulated body like FHA who can take the brunt of such dealings for an investor in the event of a payback default.
Another fundamental is shying away from dead properties.
Earlier it was the banking institutions which saw through the entire deal themselves but now with the real estate industry turning colossal; their staff force is deemed insufficient. This has brought the real estate agents to the fore.
They figure out the entire process for the buyers as well as sellers. They act as mediators arranging meeting between the two parties and also help with closing the deal. Unlike the state agents, they work for both the sides.
Their roles become more important when a senior citizen applies for a loan because then they have to do all the explanation in detail to douse any doubt in the minds of old people.