It appears that some of us were distracted by the holidays and didn't tune in to your blog until recently.
I think you are wise to find an agent who can help inform you about the local market and represent your side of the transaction should you find a place you want to purchase. Since we are largely a retirement community it is not unusual for folks to contact us when they are starting to think about retirement and where they want retire. I'm sure you realize that there are may resources online that help you preview photos of homes here while on your computer in Orange County.
If you are considering Whidbey I suggest you visit and take a look around to decide what area of the island is your prefence, south and north Whidbey are distinct communities. You could visit some of the Chambers of Commerce sites and get a bit of a feel of the different communities. If you visit my website http://www.gailpierce.com you will find information about our local communities and a property search that will help you look at homes in your price range.
I am an agent with Coldwell Banker Tara Properties, located in Langley Village on 2nd St in Langley. I would love to talk with you about Whidbey and what you are looking for in a retirement community and home. I have lived here in Langley for 24 years but did migrate from Southern California myself. It was definitely culture shock when I moved here years ago but I grew accustomed to the smaller community and slower pace and really love it. I wonder how you heard about Whidbey?
As for taking up an agents time when your aren't sure you'll move here, it's an industrial hazard for agents that comes with the job, especially here on South Whidbey since we are more of a retirement community than most . But online resources make working with people long distance much easier than it once was and I enjoy familarizing people with our island community as well as the local real estate market. Most buyers agents, myself included, do not charge but some do ask for a retainer fee for their time.
I encourage you to to find someone you are comfortable with and work with one agent if you decide you want to visit and have an agent show you homes. It is not really fair to expect an agent to invest their time if you are working with mutiple agents.
I would like to talk with you and would be happy to set up an online search for you and work with you via e-mail if you are not already working with another agent. Let me know if I can help.
Coldwell Banker Tara Properties
221 2nd St.
Langley, WA 98260
All the responders here are brokers or agents, which means they are salespeople. What you want is an _exclusive_ buyer's broker, who does not list or sell properties or represent sellers also. The only one I found on Whidbey is Bert Benehoff. He's extremely knowledgeable about the market, land development, geology, soils, water, permits, contracting, building, farming, etc. and he's based in S. Whidbey and only covers Whidbey. Will work with MLS listings, FSBOs, and even properties not listed. I find him very down-to-earth, trustworthy, and enjoy having him work for me remotely. Like you, I'm in S. California. He offers different fee schedules, we chose to go with a retainer against commission, with his fee increasing as a percent of the amount he negotiates off list price. Yes, he will negotiate for you. And no, we have not bought our ideal property yet. Check out his website. You can tell him we referred you, if you wish.
Kevin & Carol
As is mentioned here elsewhere, there are many fine buyer's agents on Whidbey Island! My though it you should review bios, experience, etc. on line...and, pick three or four you believe match your qualifications. Then come to the Island and interview us. I'm sure we'd all be happy to furnish you with materials, etc. to help start the education process. Particularly if we knew you were working with a couple of other people. Please be aware, too, that many specialize more on South Whidbey while other spend more time on North Whidbey in the Oak Harbor area. So of us don't mind crossing the center line. So, it's all a matter of personal preference.
As a starter, you might visit my link at http://www.toddbitts.com. There are several links to various Island activities, events, etc. that you might find of interest!!
Good luck to you. I'd be happy to talk to you at anytime.
Todd M. Bitts,CRS
Coldwell Banker/Tara Properties
Whidbey Island, WA.
I would be happy to work for you. Many of our clients are from elsewhere and need time to decide where they wish to move.
Please check out my web site, give me a call and or email me to let me know what you would like for me to do to assist you.
I just came across the question you posted in September. Hope I am not too late to make a connection with you. I have never considered a fee for service arrangement like Leanne wrote to you about.
I consider my role as a real estate consultant part of the job- helping folks sort out their needs and desires and whether an area or a decision or a home is right for them. Sometimes that ends up in a transaction that pays a commission and sometimes not; but almost always it ends with a friendship based on mutual trust and the fact that I am really wanting my client's best interests to be served. I have lived on the island for 26 years and love it here. I would be pleased to help you investigate our community and if this lifestyle works for you. Feel free to look me up on the Web at http://www.WhidbeyAwaits.com or on FaceBook under Whidbey Awaits. I am in the Langley Windermere Office if you are ever in the area and would like to meet.
All the Best to You as you search for HOME, Shellie Moore 888-221-0121
Your search for a new home may mean you develop strong relationships with real estate agents in completely different geographic areas, and experienced agents understand that is simply part of the process. While no one wants to be 'used', you need expert help.
Perhaps something you might want to consider, at least in the beginning stages of your relocation to your retirement home, is to hire agents in the areas you'd like to consider, to work for you on a fee or hourly basis. I know many agents would be happy with this kind of consulting/working relationship. Later, if you chose to move to "that agents area" you might choose to agree to have the previous fees paid deducted from the commission at the close of the sale of your new home, every situation is likely to be different. I like to see all agreements be put in writing, simply to avoid misunderstandings or confusion. Working via a consulting / fee basis doesn't have to be expensive, but it can mean you will feel more comfortable really spending time with your consulting agent in each of your areas.
Keep in mind that in Washington State, the real estate agent must be paid any compensation through their brokerage company.
As to finding good agents - if you visit the places you might be living in person, meet a few agents for coffee, or to see a house or two, and see how you click. Be sure to ask your friends and relatives for names of agents that they know and feel are solid agents, as that personal referral is often the very best way. When you don't know anyone at all, go to the internet for your prospective areas and see if you can't find a couple of agents you might like to talk too -- or, choose a real estate company, and call the managing broker and see if that person can help you find a good match.
My name is Rob LeRoy. I am a buyer-centric agent based in Bellingham. I cover the areas between Seattle and the Canadian border, including Whidbey Island. I have spent time living in all three of these areas, and am well acquainted with all points in between. I actually graduated from high school in Langley, way back when... However, rather than try to sell you on my personal bio or resume, let's just start with this: Send me an e-mail (email@example.com) or call me (360.510.2230) and let me know a little bit more about your needs. Do you know which areas of the Island you'd like to look? Do you have a preliminary idea of your price range? Do you have specific needs or wants in regard to size, style, layout, or community setting?
With just a little bit of information I can put together a list of current listings to help you begin the education process. From there, we can have an ongoing discussion over the coming months to help you refine your goals. Hopefully, this will help you decide which direction to take, be it toward Whidbey or one of your other options. Either way, I'm certainly happy to help.
For more about me, visit my personal biography and blog page here on Trulia.
Have a great day!