I think it makes sense having a Realtor represent you. There are so many pitfalls to be aware of that it is hard and costly to do it on your own. Look for a CRS or GRI. Those are designations that show that the Realtor has some experience and sales under their belt and has taken the time for further education beyond the initial license.
I can connect you with a Realtor in your area who has those designations and who will be happy to guide you through the process. Just let me know if you would like for me to do so.
Foreclosures definitely present an opportunity. There are lists that you can buy that give you personal financial info on the owners of the homes that are in foreclosure. I usually search for foreclosures by using the mls system and then do a market analysis to determine what price would produce a generate a great return if the home was resold.
On mortgages, there are some large players that are in financial difficulty. I know that Countrywide is one. I would stay away from them. You might start at your bank and then get quotes from others for comparison. Rates have been changing everyday. They do vary by state as well.
You can do a full documentation loan even if you are commissioned. You usually need to provide 2 years of paystubs and a W2.