Who is it best to seek out and develop a relationship with: REO managers at a financial institution, or the REO real estate agents they use?
Dealing with REO managers might be advantageous for getting deals before they even go to agents, and banks are often anxious to clear their REO portfolios (especially without paying real estate commissions) so there are probably some good deals to be had.
Dealing with REO agents probably increases the number of REO properties you have available to analyze and put offers on, since they probably deal with the REO department of multiple institutions. However, once they are listed with an agent there will be competition from other investors and buyers... unless your REO agent brings a deal to you before it is listed. It may also be easier to convey your purpose and investing goals to REO agents.
What have others found that have dealt with either or both REO managers and agents?