There has never been, in recent history, a better time for first-time homebuyers to negotiate a sale on any property...bank-owned, regular sale or short sale. However, there are hazards in the making.
If you think that bypassing a Buyer's Representative and dealing directly with the listing agent gives you an advantage, you are sorely mistaken. It is your choice.
However, you will be handing over all of your confidential information to the person listing the property.
Now, in the State of Minnesota, that constitutes dual agency which means that the agent holds no preference to either party. They cannot, or should not, disclose price, terms or motivation to either party. Do you really want to give up the representation of what could be a bulldog on your behalf to a chihuahua? (Sorry to you dog owners for the analogy.)
You likely won't save money. However, you are giving the agent a double dose of what is best for the agent. A high price with little negotiation means a higher percentage of the sale in the pocket for you-know-who. So, when you are buying, be sure who is representing you.
You know best. However, we don't define ourselves as wolves and lambs for nothing.
You must be sure you know what you are doing if you go it alone...Just stay safe out there, especially, these days.
Trust me, bank-owned properties and short sales are no easy walk in the park. It was certainly bad enough with one seller-one buyer transactions, but these have cost me sleep and sensibility more than once.
Be safe and hire your own representation. It usually costs you nothing, and you will be a lot safer, saner and glad you did in the end.