A really common misunderstanding about the manner in which the real estate industry tends to operate is that once someone shakes hands on a deal this deal is now legal and binding at this current point in time. There is some truth to this of course, and if a seller or buyer tries to back out of a deal after shaking hands this would definitely be considered a rather unethical thing for them to have done, but it should also be noted that something being unethical does not in any way make it illegal to any extent whatsoever.
As a result of the fact that this is the case, if you locate some Emerald Isle homes that you feel are perfect for the kinds of goals that you have set aside for yourself, you can make offers on them regardless of whether or not they have any offers that are currently pending. Suffice it to say that when you make an offer like this you are going to have to justify it without a shadow of a doubt by having a good credit history, but as long as all of that is in order there should be nothing that would stop you from finally being able to live in the home of your dreams.
Just make sure that you have everything squared away with the bank, and bear in mind that you are likely going to have to outbid someone or the other before they would be willing to sell the house to you in the first place. Try to see what the initial offer is and make your offer between 5%-10% more than that so that the seller is incentivized.