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No Time for Retirement: Two Agents Selling Homes into Their 90s

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By Paul Owers

work_retire_signs(MCT)—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 says, “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, 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 says.

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, says 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 says.

“I can give them everything youth can give them—even more,” Gorbach says, 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 another firm.

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.

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