Buying a foreclosed home involves a few different processes than simply buying a property directly from a seller, so it pays to be aware of the amount of time that you're going to have to wait before you can finally call the property your own.
The key is putting yourself in a position to make an as-is offer quickly, while being able to prove that you can secure the necessary funds to make the purchase. If you have to wait to secure a loan then the process takes a little longer, as you would expect from any house purchase.
Without a Loan
If you don't have a loan then your first step should be to secure one. Many banks will want to see that you have been preapproved before they will sell a foreclosed property to you, as they do not want to be in a situation where they have to repossess the house again a couple of years down the line.
If you have to secure the loan after already making your interest known, you can expect to wait at least a month to get all of the required paperwork done. This means that the entire process will take somewhere in the region of two months to complete.
If you approach a bank about a foreclosed property and you already have preapproval for a loan then you are in a far better position. For a start, the bank will know that they can trust you, which means they can get the relevant processes started quickly.
As such, you can expect to wait about 3-4 weeks from your as-is offer to the closing of the deal if you already have pre-approval for a loan in place. Closing on the property should not take very long at all once a price has been agreed.
So What About Closing?
The closing procedures on a foreclosed property are generally much quicker than they would be for a property being sold by an individual seller, as you don't have to deal with any waiting times that may arise as a result of the seller needing to stay in the property you have just bought, as it is empty and thus available for you to move into as soon as you are ready.
Furthermore, banks will also be very keener to get the house mortgaged to a new owner, which means you will often find the paperwork gets completed much more quickly. Additionally, as you are taking away any sentimentality involved in the sale you will also find that things happen a lot more smoothly.
The Final Word
As such, a general rule of thumb is that you should be able to purchase a foreclosed property in about a month, assuming that you have all of the relevant finances sorted out beforehand.
If you don't then you will need to wait for whatever time your lender requires to secure a loan, in addition to the time it takes for the deal to be processed, which usually leans towards 2-3 months.