Pat Kennedy - Your Washington, DC Real Estate Connection


Do Old Agents Retire? Or Just Fade Away?

Last week, I wrote a post about my State Farm agent having the unmitigated nerve to retire on me.

Then, one of the comments on that post really struck a nerve when Todd Clark made the observation, "I've never been to a retirement party yet for an agent!"

Come to think of it, neither have I!  I've been to some memorial services for some agents who worked long into their geezer-hood, but they never retired!   One ratified a contract on an $8 million dollar house in Georgetown only hours before drawing her last breath.  And her friends actually convinced the Washington Post obit writer that she on only 79.  Yeah!  Right!

And I have to wonder whether so many agents hang in there forever because they didn't plan financially for a normal retirement, or because they just love real estate and can't bring themselves to quit. 

I have a colleague who has to be in her 90's by now, and her only concession to old age is that she is now partnering with her daughter.  When I was a new agent (25 years ago) we had a 70th birthday party for her.  She is still sharp as a tack and spry as all get out, and she still can qualify on her own for membership in Workahaulics Anonymous.  And she could have retired very comfortably decades ago had she wanted to.  But this woman loves real estate, and real estate loves her. 

But there are probably just as many agents who didn't sock it away in any type of retirement account.  We hear so many stories of agents who have been living from one brokerage check to the next, and if they're lucky, their taxes are up to date.  But they are still out there working hard because they don't have other options.

I'm at a point where many of my friends are retiring, and I could if I wanted to.  But it's hard for me to imagine what it would be like.   Other than bad knees (to be fixed soon), I'm in great health.  I love what I'm doing and have gotten pretty good at it.  I've learned to work smarter and take vacations.  But if I hung up my lockbox keypad, I'd really miss it.  I'd miss the interaction with colleagues and clients.  I'd miss all of the people and houses and condos and flat tires and almost running out of gas. 

So, am I going to be one of those geezer agents who doesn't know when to quit?  

Yeah.  I think so! 



Comment balloon 64 commentsPatricia Kennedy • March 28 2008 05:20PM


Patricia: I have yet to see a retirement party for a Realtor, either. In fact, I think most of us will be showing property with our walkers...  
Posted by Kat DeLong, Realtor DRE#01235311, Lake Arrowhead Real Estate ( (LakeView Realty Enterprises, Inc) about 12 years ago
Old agents don't retire they just go listless :)  They have forgotten more than most of us will ever know
Posted by Don Rogers, Realtor, Broker, CDPE, GRI, OnullFallon MO & St Charles County MO homes (Keller Williams Realty Chesterfield) about 12 years ago
I know of a few myself. It might just be love. :)
Posted by Keith Perry, REALTOR - West Metro Atlanta (Coldwell Banker) about 12 years ago
We have had a few retirement parties for agents in my office surprisingly enough. Most have been because the agents have moved on to others states. But alas we have those that are 'up there' in age and hang in for whatever reason as well. I guess its the nature of the business we are in. There is no pne to say we are pass retirement age and booting us out the door :)
Posted by Martha Brown, Your Homes Around Annapolis Agent (Long & Foster Real Estate, Inc., Annapolis MD 21403) about 12 years ago
I pray that they just retire.
Posted by Ronell Moore, Transforming your Flooring into a work of Art. (180 Degree Floors) about 12 years ago
One thing about being a Realtor is you can do this even when you are old and gray.
Posted by John Walters, Licensed in Louisiana (Frank Rubi Real Estate) about 12 years ago
I thought being in Real Estate you were retired work when you want and make lots of money. Thats what my first broker told me.
Posted by Terry & Bonnie Westbrook, Westbrook Realty - Grand Rapids Forest Hills MI Re (Westbrook Realty Broker-Owner) about 12 years ago
Some of the most successful agents I know are over 60!  My broker is on the other side of 70 and says she'll never retire--loves it too much.
Posted by Norma Toering Broker for Palos Verdes and Beach Cities, Palos Verdes Luxury Homes in L.A. (Charlemagne International Properties) about 12 years ago

We don't retire, we just fade away - not! I love what I'm doing. Some agents decide to split their business - in a warm state in the winter, a cooler one in the summer; others go into the referral end; others continue to work but only with their friends and past clients; some do a deal or two a year. 

More prevalent in the last year or two are agents (generally BELOW retirement age) who have taken day jobs. 

Posted by Sharon Simms, St. Petersburg FL - CRS CIPS CLHMS RSPS (Coastal Properties Group International - Christie's International) about 12 years ago
Pat, you're right -- they don't retire, they just move to Florida, Arizona, or some other retirement area and continue selling homes there.
Posted by Brian Block, Northern Virginia & D.C. Real Estate (RE/MAX Allegiance, Managing Broker/Branch Vice President) about 12 years ago
Quick question. In reference to your name and location.., are you related to the kennedy's (the political ones)?
Posted by Josué E. Silva (Tierra Antigua Realty) about 12 years ago
Yep I'm with you Pat, I think I'll be one of those geezer agents. I think I'll still run marathons too.
Posted by Craig W. Barrett, Hughesville MD Real Estate (RE/MAX 100) about 12 years ago


Kathy, I actually showed a property in one of Washington's old coops.  It was "agent must accompany" and yes, the agent got off the elevator with her walker! 

Oh, gosh, Don!  I am occasionally listless these days! 

Keith & Robin, I think that most of the time, it is love!

And Martha, I'll bet those sneaky Petes picked up real estate licenses wherever they went!

Posted by Patricia Kennedy, Home in the Capital (Redfin) about 12 years ago said...I hung up my lockbox keypad, I'd really miss it. ...I'm saying Ho-Ho would I!!!

 Good luck with your knees...and thanks for great posts that make me glad I'm here.

Posted by . 4Terra Land Brokers .. 828-776-0779 Asheville NC, What's Most Important to YOU? Call(828)-776-0779 ( REAL ESTATE RESOURCES & NETWORK ) about 12 years ago

Ronell, we've had a lot retire to heaven, but they were really, really old when it happened.  And their young colleagues sent them off with fabulous parties.  Um. or Irish wakes?

John, at least when we're old.  Technology has made gray optional.

Terry, there are a lot of agents here who took early retirement from other jobs.  They got retirement parties at their old jobs.

And Norma, I have no idea how old my broker is, but I'm hoping she way outlasts me!  She's amazing.



Posted by Patricia Kennedy, Home in the Capital (Redfin) about 12 years ago
Okay--that cracked me up. :)
Posted by Kat DeLong, Realtor DRE#01235311, Lake Arrowhead Real Estate ( (LakeView Realty Enterprises, Inc) about 12 years ago
We've had Realtors retire, party and all. Two years ago, we had two founding members of our board retire. It was a very emotional time.
Posted by Debbie DiFonzo, Lebanon MO and Buffalo Missouri Real Estate (Debbie DiFonzo - United Country VIP Realty, SW Missouri) about 12 years ago
Well, we all know it has been proven, that when many people retire, they have no life, so their life ends short. But if they keep on working and are involved with meaningful activities they live much happier and longer. I will never retire from helping others, maybe just the forms that it happens in. 
Posted by Katerina Gasset, Get It Done For Me Virtual Services (Get It Done For Me Virtual Services ) about 12 years ago
I've always joked that I'll be 95 years old and showing property....I think real estate is in many an agent's blood...and if they don't poop out after the first few years they will work until death.
Posted by Mary Warren about 12 years ago
Patricia, I got married 8 years ago.  My husband is 7 years younger than me, cradlerobber :) - Anyway, I told my husband HE is my retirement plan!
Posted by Audrey June-Forshey, GRI, Gaithersburg, MD (RE/MAX Realty Services) about 12 years ago
Patricia, How funny, we were just talking about that tonight.  I LOVE TEXAS and the beauty of living here is we could retire anywhere in the state but just keep on selling real estate.  I can't imagine ever quitting.  I think staying busy is what keeps you young.  My parents are 82 and 90 and in such incredible health and I attribute it to their busy lifestyle.  I have been wondering about an older agent that I met when I first started real estate and as I was looking for a rental property for someone today I ran across one of her listings.  I also noticed she now has her own business.  It doesn't get much better than that.
Posted by Marchel Peterson, Spring TX Real Estate E-Pro (Results Realty) about 12 years ago
I love this post Pat. I'll probably be an old Geezer agent along with you...I guess we'll be here blogging for years to come deary!  
Posted by Carol Culkin, Overland Park (Reece & Nichols) about 12 years ago
I'll geezer along with you, Pat.  I may slow down, but quit?  I never did know when to quit!
Posted by Marlene Scheffer, Realtor to Kitsap County, WA (Realty Station) about 12 years ago

I guess Eddie and I wiould have a hard time retiring...but we do take some vacations :)

We have an agetn in our ofcie that has to be 85 and still does part time business with a higher end price point!

Posted by Tucson Real Estate Experts Anne McKechnie, Previews Property Specialist (Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage) about 12 years ago

I think when an old person gives up working or doing something they truly love - they just shrivel-up.  Doing work that makes you feel good and gives you a sense of accomplishment - will keep you kicking for many years to come.

On the other hand.... How nice it would be to not have "THOSE" phone calls from clients at all hours of that day?  Oh - who are we kidding - we love those!


Posted by James Downing - Metro DC Houses Team REALTORS®, CRS, GRI, ABR,MRP, MilRes, When Looking to Buy or Sell - Make the Right Move (Real Living | At Home) about 12 years ago
Who can retire??!!! I work as an agent because it's the only job I know of that won't retire me after I'm 65. The way SS is going I may not be able to retire....EVER!!! Good thought.
Posted by Michele Samph (Coldwell Banker Heritage) about 12 years ago
Nonsense.  Many agents and brokers "retired" many years ago from jobs.  We are now enjoying life.
Posted by Lenn Harley, Real Estate Broker - Virginia & Maryland (Lenn Harley,, MD & VA Homes and Real Estate) about 12 years ago
Patricia, here in Dallas 97 yr old Ebby Halliday still heads up her company. Kudos to her. I guess they never do retire. If you have your health, do what interests you.
Posted by Gary Woltal, Assoc. Broker Realtor SFR Dallas Ft. Worth (Keller Williams Realty) about 12 years ago
Great post.  I know several agents who are past "retirement age", but they are all at the top of their game!
Posted by Kristal Reid, Zebulon, GA (Coldwell Banker Bullard Realty) about 12 years ago
So true. Some of the best agents I know are in their 70's.
Posted by Lisa Lambert, Esq. 1031 Exchange Expert (The Law Offices of Elisabeth A. Lambert) about 12 years ago
I have been selling Real Estate in my town now for 18 years. There was one retirement party about 2 maybe 3 years ago for what was the top agent Her name is Silke Printz she sold for a little over 20 years for the same broker here in town, which for the last 12 years has been the Coldwell Banker office. It was a big party at the new golf course clubhouse. I believe just about every realtor, mortgage, title person e.t.c. in town came to the party. A part from that no other parties that I know of. Maybe in anothe 10 to 15 I'll have one?
Posted by Alan Brown, 29 Years of Real Estate Experience . (Coldwell Banker Montrose Colorado) about 12 years ago
I think if you are a good agent and you have a large network of customers, and you can do it on a part time basis, earning full time income, it is definitely worth in staying int he business. Plus, I believe the people that are good at it, they love it, so they have no need to retire. 
Posted by Mina V. Garrey, Commercial Capital Properties, Los Angeles, CA (Commercial Capital Properties - License #01768282) about 12 years ago
Have an agent in my office who is 85 and can afford to retire but doesn't want to even though he is slowing down, Only has 3 sales this month.
Posted by Cameron Wilson, The Short Guy - Murrieta,Temecula,Menifee Californ (Labrum Real Estate) about 12 years ago

Hi Patricia,

Good question, actually I think very few Realtors ever do retire, I've only known a few myself. And I had no idea you're a vet of 25 years. I'm a geezer-ette myself. At this point I'm still not ready to hang if up, I love what I do and work with great people.

And I agree with your statement, "I love what I'm doing and have gotten pretty good at it.  I've learned to work smarter and take vacations...". Ditto!

BTW, 2 memorials this year, my very first broker and my former business partner, we're all about the same age, ugh!

Posted by Lynda Eisenmann, Broker-Owner,CRS,CDPE,GRI,SRES, Brea,CA, Orange Co (Preferred Home Brokers) about 12 years ago
I had a wonderful agent in my office retire last year. It was sad because I think he really didn't want to give it up, but there comes a point I think where the business can interfere with quality of life. Too many people work until they die, I think, because they fail to plan and have don't have a retire policy in place.
Posted by Colleen Fischesser Northwest Property Shop, A Tradition of Trust in the Pacific NW since 1990! (RE/MAX Advantage | Managing Broker) about 12 years ago

I went to a memorial last week. The Realtor that passed away was 80 years old. He was still working every day and had a great sense of humor. I hardly knew him but we had a nice time at a Christmas Party at my office. His partner commented at the memorial that he had been showing properties to a client the same day he had a stroke and died. Many other Realtors in my town go to see new homes on Caravan Day walking with canes and still selling and listing. I believe that many of them could retire if they wanted to, but many of them don't seem to want to do it.  

Isaac Bensussen 


Posted by Isaac Bensussen (Pacific Coast Real Estate Group) about 12 years ago
Real estate is a away of life. Plain and simple. That's one of the main reasons after 22 years i still do it.
Posted by Robert L. Brown, Grand Rapids Real Estate Bellabay Realty, West Mic ( about 12 years ago

I have no intentions of retiring but am aggressively making certain that I have the choice in case I change my mind.  I suppose if I intend to keep going, I need to master the art of taking time off. 

Great post!

Posted by Amanda Evans, Real Estate Broker - Fort Worth Texas (DFW Living) about 12 years ago

I think Virtual Assistants might be the same way.  I can't imagine not doing what I'm doing.  I love it too much.  I love it so much that I hate it sometimes! hahahahaha  I've never heard of a VA retiring either.  Maybe it is a real estate thing...


Posted by Renae Bolton, I'm your Professional Real Estate Marketing VA! (Marketing 4 Realtors) about 12 years ago
We are honoring one of our "mature" Realtors -- she is 90ish -- going on 40!  She is a state representative.  I have helped her in the last 3 campaign.  She WILL NOT FADE AWAY!  NO WAY!
Posted by Joan Whitebook, Consumer Focused Real Estate Services (BHG The Masiello Group) about 12 years ago
Maybe i'll get a trailer for my Segway... I could tow buyers to listings. 
Posted by Lane Bailey, Realtor & Car Guy (Century 21 Results Realty) about 12 years ago
I began my career in real estate in 1969 and cannot imagine retiring.  I believe that with age comes knowledge, with time experience and I am always learning.  I have loved every new transition in this business and embrace the technology that we now have at our disposal.  I look for what is new on the horizon and delight in being one of the first in my office to master it.  I will be selling homes to the children of those I sold homes to in the past.  How lucky we are to be in this business.  Don't count on coming to a retirement party for me, sorry.  :)
Posted by Dottie Hicks about 12 years ago
I think that successful agents as they age probably choose to stay in the business but work a little less.  It is a great boost to their retirement income and they have the flexibility to travel and pursue other interests.
Posted by Diane Bell, Hilton Head Real Estate, Bluffton (Charter 1 Real Estate, Hilton Head, Bluffton, SC) about 12 years ago
Real Estate is a super career.  It is certainly one that you can slow down on not just fade away.
Posted by Cheryl S. Glover, CRS, CIPS, GRI, TRC about 12 years ago
People who don't like their jobs retire.  All realtors like their jobs, don't they?  I do and hope to never have to quit.  It'a a challenge to try to keep up with all the new things and new people.
Posted by Barbara S. Duncan, GRI, e-PRO, Executive Broker, Searcy AR (RE/MAX Advantage) about 12 years ago

I look forward to retiring, but never quitting.  Retiring for me means different things.  For example, I look forward to retiring from being a residential agent, and focusing strictly on training and coaching.  I want to move to the seventh level in my business, so I can step out and do those other things that I love.

This comes from the guy who said if he won the powerball lottery, he'd take a job at Wal-mart as the greeter just to get out and chat with people!

Posted by Bill Kennedy, Homes For Sale Greenville SC (Keller Williams Realty) about 12 years ago
Just think of all the past clients and the huge SPO they have built relationships with.  I'd hate to give that up.  I'll most likely be a geezer too. <g>
Posted by Chrysti Tovani, Sacramento Real Estate Agent (Lisa Drake Properties ) about 12 years ago

People continue to work for many reasons

a. They love their career.

b. It keeps them active and in shape.

c. They love interacting with people and helping them.

d. They are good at what they do.

e. Their career has made them rich and still bringing them good money ( I love to close on a $8 million property one day - It's coming soon )

These are the only reasons that I can come up with. Great post Pat.

Posted by Lanre-"THE REAL ESTATE FARMER" Folayan, I don't make promises.I deliver results.SOLD HOMES (Keller Williams Select Realtors-Buy a home in Washington DC. Sell a home in Washington DC) about 12 years ago
We'll end up being geezers along with you. Why stop when you can sell a $8 million property when you are 90 years old!
Posted by Bob & Carolin Benjamin, East Phoenix Arizona Homes (Benjamin Realty LLC) about 12 years ago
Why give this up, it is a great profession!  I will also probably be old and in a walker showing properties!  Great post!
Posted by Tony & Darcy Cannon, The C Team (Aubrey and Associates Realty) about 12 years ago
Real estate is one professsion that you can keep doing even into retirement.
Posted by Russ Ravary ~ Metro Detroit Realtor call (248) 310-6239, Michigan homes for sale ~ (Real Estate One) about 12 years ago
I would love to reitre now...but then what would I do for excitement....I'll probably go to my grave selling RE:)
Posted by Neal Bloom, Realtor CRS-Weston FL Real Estate (Brokered by eXp Realty LLC) about 12 years ago


This post made me feel like a rare breed. A rare breed indeed.

I retired 7 years ago. I was 43. I planned it. I worked towards that goal. I couldn't wait for the day when our business would become big enough not to need my ongoing loving care. 

Although I am retired...As the owner of our Company...I am not completely retired. BB and I sleep, eat and drink Real Estate.

But just so you know...I love being able to wake up and say "Nope. No Real Estate for me today"...I also love not having BB bossing me around. He has control issues :) 

Ooops. I disgressed a bit. Sorry. Anyway retirement is only sweet when it's planned and you know exactly what you're doing and why. 

By the way, no one threw me a party but then again I am nowhere near geezer hood :) 

Hmmm...I think I'll go throw myself a party and celebrate the fact that I get to choose, choose and choose some more :) 


Posted by "The Lovely Wife" (Broker Bryantnulls Wife) The One And Only TLW. (President-Tutas Towne Realty, Inc.) about 12 years ago
I guess there will be no retirement party for me. The longer we are in business, the more referral clients we will have. We can choose to work just with referred clients . Great post.
Posted by Gita Bantwal, REALTOR,ABR,CRS,SRES,GRI - Bucks County & Philadel (RE/MAX Centre Realtors) about 12 years ago
Retire?  I would be bored to death!
Posted by Linda Tremblay, Associate Broker - Bucks County, PA Real Estate Services (Long & Foster Real Estate, Inc, PA License #AB065488) about 12 years ago
I've been to one retirement party for an agent in the last five years.  The rest just seem to close up shop and you occassionally see them at lunch.  Some agents seem to be ready to hold on until their last breath without a plan for how to "sell" their business.  They could retire now and have the benefits for another 3 years if they thought it through. 
Posted by Cindy Jones, Pentagon, Fort Belvoir & Quantico Real Estate News (Integrity Real Estate Group) about 12 years ago
We have a number of agents in our office over 70 and they're not showing any signs of slowing down.  And talk about experience!  Like someone already said, they've forgotten more than I know.  They're a great resource when you have challenges.  Though, I confess, I hope by 70, my lockbox key will be collecting dust in the nightstand drawer.
Posted by Greg Steffens (Mountain Country Realty) about 12 years ago
My dad sort of retired.  His license was still active, he just did not do a deal for the last couple of years.  But, he had no party and still offered advice.
Posted by Robert Machado, CPM MPM - Property Manager and Property Management (HomePointe Property Management, CRMC) about 12 years ago
One of the reasons my husband and I opened our real estate business was because it was something we could do together and do as long as we wanted.  It's a great business.  I never plan on retiring.  Taking more time off and taking more vacations maybe.  But I would definitely miss the everyday interaction and helping clients find their perfect home.
Posted by Joyce Jewell, GRI, ePRO, ASP, ABR, SFR, RSPS (Jewell Real Estate Agency) about 12 years ago
I'm starting to think that memorial services are the retirement parties for Realtors. This business really gets into your blood and it is almost impossible to get rid of it.
Posted by Charles Tharp, Inland Empire, Real Estate & Short Sale Specialist (Prudential California Realty) about 12 years ago
HAHA....once real estate is in your blood, you can't shake it. Who needs retirement? Certainly not us! 
Posted by Christy Powers, Pooler, Savannah Real Estate Agent (Keller Williams Coastal Area Partners) about 12 years ago
When we retire, we will have a party and you're ALL invited!
Posted by Team Rhino Las Vegas Valley Sue Nelson & Terry Nachtergaele (ERA Sunbelt Realty) about 12 years ago
Patricia - in this business you can continue working as long as you want. that is the beauty of it!
Posted by Billnulls Blog Florida Realty Professional, AHWD (Charles Rutenberg Realty) about 12 years ago

Funny, I have met many retirees before but I have never met a retired real estate agent. I think thay just fade away.

Posted by Anthony Saunchez, How can we be of service (Campa Properties) over 4 years ago