Buying Bank Owned instead of MLS

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Hey everyone, I currently live in a one bedroom apartment, and have been looking for my first house for about 3 months now. I’m looking for a 2 family home, budget is 350-375k max, and in my area (Hudson, Bergen, Union and Passaic counties in NJ) that has been quite the challenge. We have placed offers on 3 houses so far and have been totally out bid by other buyers. I’m considering calling it quits and doing my own research and offers directly with REO/ bank owned websites like Home Path, Bank of America, City National etc... Has anyone had luck with buying cheaper homes through Reo sites? Does anyone have views on why this may be a better/cheaper alternative to working with real estate agents? Thank you in advance, any guidance here would be appreciated. Yuliana