A good agent will be willing to start advising you early and should be happy for the opportunity to start acclimating you to the area. I am in Lexington, with over 7 years of real estate experience in the town, plus 15 + living here. I have kids in the excellent school system. I have worked with some relocating buyers for 2 years in some cases. Feel free to call or email me. I also have many sales and listings in Arlington and know it well.
http://www.schooldigger.com for Massachusetts has Winchester twice in the Top 10 for Elementary schools.
Did you have a price range in mind and what you hope to get for the money, this should guide you in the state!
Lawton Real Estate
My advice is to start online ... use the web to identify a couple places that match what you think are the criteria (and some that don't so you get an idea of other places/areas just to compare) - this way you wont have the pressure of an agent this early in the game. Once you find some places then search for an agency and agent that has a model or business ethic that suits you, make a couple interview calls and then send the agent you choose your list. Biggest advice: don't sign any paperwork/contracts (or at least read them VERY carefully and don't sign an exclusive agreement that binds you for a certain amount of time) and work with an exclusive buyers agent. The alternative is the open house circuit, although that usually limits you to sundays which might be difficult if you are traveling in for a short period.
Helpful Hint: Massachusetts winters are cold so think wisely on Oil or Gas heat in your choice also remember the cost of oil will be a burden to many if prices do not adjust, also if you have children tcheck out the elementary school rating s for that area! Any questions feel free to ask as this is my area!
Happy 4th - Chris Lawton
Lawton Real Estate
I work in these areas and would be happy to help you with your search. MA is great, so I'm sure we'll see you back here in Jan. Please call or email me with some information on the type of property that you have in mind. Depending on your schedule, we'll be able to visit some or all of them. One easy way to do this is by searching on my website (free to use) - it pulls right from our MLS, so you'll be able to virtually visity a number of homes before the plane even lands.
I look forward to hearing from you,
Any good agent worth their salt in those areas will be HAPPY to show you some houses, regardless of when you plan to buy. You will definitely get a few from Trulia Voices contacting you. Look for someone who specializes in those specific areas. If I did, I would be more than happy to show you around, but it's not my area of expertise. Keep in mind, an agent who replies at 10:49pm EST the day before the 4th AND works in the Arlington/Lexington area will be a GREAT place to start! : )
Good luck with the (eventual) move!