How do I buy foreclosed home/short sale/bank owned.?

I am having a really hard time buying a house. After a few weeks of trying by myself to buy a home. I have come to realize that I REALLY need an agent. I have a month to buy a home and have come across the "short sale" which can take up to 3 months. I have been approved for 200k. I want a townhouse and it... show more I am having a really hard time buying a house. After a few weeks of trying by myself to buy a home. I have come to realize that I REALLY need an agent. I have a month to buy a home and have come across the "short sale" which can take up to 3 months. I have been approved for 200k. I want a townhouse and it seems like all the homes I can afford are way out of town. At the same time I see hundreds of homes in short sale and foreclosures. Here are my questions hopefully you can help me out.

1) If I make an offer 5k-10k higher than asking price on short sale, will the accept faster or will it still take the same amount of time?
2) If I go with bank owned/REO should I have a realtor and also what is the wait time on the approval.
3) What is the best way in going about buying a home in foreclosure/bank owned/short sale?
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