Tuesday, September 16, 2014
FAIRFIELD-SUISUN, CALIFORNIA
99 CENTS

No time for retirement: Two Florida real estate agent selling homes into their 90s

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — At 91 years old, real estate agent Claire Abrams has a time-tested strategy for selling homes.

“I take customers out on the golf course,” Abrams said, “and if you don’t beat them too badly, you might sell them a house.”

Woody Gorbach, a year younger than Abrams, also sells real estate full-time, mostly in south Palm Beach, Fla. He tried retiring once, in 1998, at age 74. It wasn’t for him.

Even in an era when people work well past the traditional retirement age of 65, Abrams and Gorbach remain exceptional. And they work for the same company, Lang Realty, though in separate offices.

They insist they don’t need the money; they keep working for the thrill of the deal.

“I love the action,” Gorbach said.

Married for 60 years, Gorbach is an Army veteran who served in World War II and spent most of his 60-year real estate career in Bridgeport, Conn., where he primarily was a mortgage broker.

Here, he focuses on condominiums up to $500,000 along South Ocean Boulevard. His son, Donald, a senior broker associate for Lang Realty in the same Manalapan, Fla., office, said his father handles 10 to 12 sales a year.

Gorbach concedes that many buyers and sellers want to work with younger agents who are savvy with social media and electronic transactions. But experience and personality still count for something, he said.

“I can give them everything youth can give them – even more,” Gorbach said, sitting in his office wearing a blue-and-white-pinstriped shirt, tan slacks and loafers without socks. “I love people. I don’t feel 90.”

Gorbach and Abrams had never met until this week. Abrams and her business partner, Suzanne Block, sold about three dozen homes last year, mostly at Delaire Country Club in Delray Beach, Fla., where both live. Abrams has sold so many in the 324-home community that some joke the club should be renamed DelClaire.

She grew up in Toronto and moved to Florida in 1988. Her most memorable transactions were in Scarsdale, N.Y., in the 1970s, when she sold homes to several New York Rangers hockey players – and ended up attending hockey games for free.

Her best year ever: 1995, when she earned more than $1 million in commissions while working for Coldwell Banker.

A widow with two children and four granddaughters, Abrams stands only 4 feet 9, but it’s best not to underestimate her. She once rattled off a phone number from memory that Block had given her six weeks before.

“Real estate flows through her veins like water,” said Block, 53. “If you think she’s just this little old lady, watch out.”

Freddie Molson, a competing agent at Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Florida Realty, said some brokers brazenly try to recruit his clients right in front of him. Not Abrams.

“I think she’s the type of agent that other agents should aspire to be,” he said.

Dan Lambert is part of an investment group that has worked with Gorbach on about 10 deals over the past decade. Next week, Lambert is scheduled to close on the sale of his mother’s condo, and Gorbach is his agent for that, too.

“I didn’t even know he was 90,” said Lambert, 52. “It’s a non-issue.”

Neither Abrams nor Gorbach intends to call it a career anytime soon. Abrams might get indignant if you even mention it.

“Are you kidding?” she said. “If I retired, it would be the end of me. I really believe real estate is what’s keeping me alive.”

Mcclatchy-Tribune News Service

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  • RetirementLiving (@RetirementSite)May 08, 2014 - 6:55 am

    Some people will never retire because work is their life or because they can not afford to retire. Others find that they can redefine themselves in retirement. There are several great guest posts on the site Retirement And Good Living by recent retirees who are now sailing full time, RVing across the US, backpacking across the globe, biking in Europe, volunteering with the Peace Corps and more. It gives you a good perspective of the possibilities.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
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