Tom Trimbath Real Estate Broker – Year One

“Has it really been that long?” I heard that from several people today. November 9, 2018, my one year anniversary as a real estate broker on Whidbey Island. Welcome to yet another new view of the world we live in – a world that is changing, an interesting time to be involved in real estate, housing, and affordability.

It’s November, which means it’s no surprise that it’s raining as I sit in my office (Coldwell Banker Tara Properties in Bayview) waiting for someone who may come to the island to shop for a home for their healing space. Special needs need special places, and one way to make that happen is to start with ground and build a custom space. At least the ferries are on schedule, unless they have to slow to let orcas pass by. So goes life on the island.

How I got to real estate from aerospace engineering was something I described in last year’s post when I passed my test. Years of playing with data, years of writing and researching real estate, the industry and architecture, and years of living on the island added to a shift from designing airplanes and rockets to helping people design their lives. As I said before, learning that one of my core passions is helping people and their ideas is something that’s been common throughout. From the outside, it may look like a radical shift. From the inside, the change isn’t as dramatic – at least conceptually.

Change happens. No more shorts. Rats. No more commuting by bicycle. Alas. Maybe I’ll  be able to replace my truck with something that can actually turn around at the end of some of Whidbey’s dead-end drives. Eventually, no more flip phone as MicroVision-enabled projector smartphones are now available – for a price I’ll pay after another transaction or two. Say good bye to regular paychecks, but say hello to potentially being able to stay on the island. I retired here, but it was a semi-retirement that became an unretirement (details in My Triple Whammy), that may become a re-retirement with some luck and effort. Also, say hello for a great opportunity to talk to lots of people, hear about great needs and dreams, and helping people move on to the next stage in their lives. Now, if only I could do that without all of this pesky paperwork.

We’re seeing the planet, the country, and the world in general changing. Even an island in Puget Sound is affected by off-island forces like the Gig Economy, shifts in the military, trade disputes, and technological advances. Seattle’s growth pressures may be delayed but not negated by the moat that is the island’s surrounding waters.

Real estate is driven by people selling and buying houses. The market is shaped by economics: local, regional, national, and global. Whether a particular house will be sold or bought is determined by individuals, and individuals can’t be predicted. Few people buy or sell to outguess market forces. Most people buy or sell because they want to or have to. Being a broker means respecting privacy, so I won’t tell those stories here (unless a client doesn’t mind.) The data, however, help describe the environment, and is easier to talk and write about. Tune into my Facebook page, or Twitter or LinkedIn pages to track the trends I’m noticing. These aren’t dull times.


The trends are fascinating enough that I’ll be giving a talk about them at Langley Library on December 6th at 6:30pm. Decades ago, Seattle had a tough time getting people to move here. It was an issue HR described when I hired into Boeing in 1980. Whidbey Island was much quieter than, but so was the entire Puget Sound region. Since then, Microsoft, Starbucks, Costco, Amazon, et al have changed the area from an overlooked corner of the country into the center of a spotlight. What’s next? Stop by the for the talk and …


Pardon the interruption. A client called. Stay tuned.

Hey! That was fun, walking vacant land, checking out the view, considering the possibilities, and being visited by a flock of sheep.

And, getting an intriguing phone call from another broker who is interested in helping distribute the graphs I produce and share on social media.

And, before I set to typing again, another idea for creating a job opportunity. Got to make sure I talk to J and A about that. (Hey, life’s hectic and sometimes the best place to write a note is in the middle of something completely different.)

Welcome to the disjointed, always on, happy to help nature of real estate. Boredom rarely happens. Insights and perspectives from people who need whatever house they can find and afford to people who can add a vacation house so they get a chance to recuperate from a hectic lifestyle elsewhere. And, keep it all inside to respect privacy.

Real estate also represents a departure from my participation in the Gig Economy. I continue to consult with creatives to help complete their projects; and I continue to write, and take photographs for sale (Twelve Months at Maxwelton Beach is next); but most of my time is working with buyers, sellers, land, houses, and introducing them to each other.

This has not been an easy or obvious journey. Thanks to sharing in a half dozen deals, I’m still living on the island. Thanks to the costs of doing business, I have paid my bills, but not my taxes, yet. A few things have been fixed. Some new shirts have been added to my wardrobe. (Thanks, Lands End.) But, new (used) car money, major home repairs, and taking good care of my self are things to look forward to, not to spend money on – yet.

‘Yet’ is a frequently used word, but yet is closer now. Instead of relying on lottery tickets, I can look forward to being compensated for helping people. At last count, I’m working with over a dozen sets of clients, who represent a wide variety of interests, needs, and resources; and whose situations can change every day. This isn’t like engineering where a job assignment leads to a check. It’s more like a diversified portfolio of individual stocks, lots of potential which benefits from diligence and patience.

Few people except brokers want to talk about real estate every day, which is why I only mention it here, occasionally. Few people want to read about Whidbey Island every day, which is why I started a blog specifically for Whidbey,, Island living from a islander’s perspective. If you want to hear about both, drop by Langley Library for the talk I mentioned above. If you can’t attend, give me a call and tell me your story. Speaking of which, there’s a voice mail message I should respond to before the end of the work day (which can go until 9PM when things get busy.)

Here’s to the start of year number 2, and maybe even some stories that I can share.

About Tom Trimbath

real estate broker / consultant / entrepreneur / writer / photographer / speaker / aerospace engineer / semi-semi-retired More info at: and at my amazon author page:
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4 Responses to Tom Trimbath Real Estate Broker – Year One

  1. Marc Imhof says:

    Hi Tim, nice post and congrats! I own your book and follow your posts! If you have a referral for me in Tampa/St. Pete I’d love to help…and vice versa! I’m an agent in Florida and also an investor and some other stuff like you! Take care!

  2. Marc Imhof says:

    Hi Tom, nice post and congrats! I own your book and follow your posts! If you have a referral for me in Tampa/St. Pete I’d love to help…and vice versa! I’m an agent in Florida and also an investor and some other stuff like you! Take care!

  3. Tom Trimbath says:

    Yep. Vice versa, from one corner of the country to the other. It happens.

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