Finding a good property
Do your research to find a property early on in the first 3 or 4 months of difficulty.
Go look at the property and, if possible, ask for an introduction to meet the owner. You MUST talk to the owner!
You MUST see the interior and exterior, or else walk away. There will be plenty of other deals. Exterior does not necessarily equal interior.
Determine appraisal and market value. Check newspaper or gathers information elsewhere for current appraisal. What have other similar houses in the area sold for? Talk to Real Estate Agents. Most probably they have the most up to date information and data.
Keep a file or binder detailing notes on each property you look at and compare.