Age Is Just A Number


5 minute read

July 23, 2013

Isn’t it?

Buyers and sellers look for many different traits in the Realtor they hire, but here’s a story that I don’t know if many of you can relate to…


“Age is just a number…..”

….said the 55-year-old creepy dude, to the attractive 23-year-old girl…

I suppose there’s some truth to that saying.

I’m seven years older than my wife, but she’s far more mature than me.

If you’re a Toronto Maple Leafs fan, then age is far from “just a number.”  Why would the Leafs sign a 29-year-old “crasher & banger” in David Clarkson to a SEVEN year contract?  He would be 36-years-old at the end of that contract, which I believe, will be bought out when he’s about 33 or 34.  Another day, another terrible move from the most pathetic franchise in all of hockey.

Yes, there are some instances where age is just a number, but sometimes it’s far more than that.  Sometimes it’s a limit, a measure, or another metric.

Take real estate, for example.

Should we assume that the age of the agent, and the number of years they’ve been working in the industry, is a measure of their success, experience, and knowledge?  To some extent, yes.  But there are exceptions to this rule as well.

For example, if an agent has been working in real estate since the 1970’s – no doubt, they have a ton of experience!  But if that agent is semi-retired, does 3-4 deals per year, and knows nothing about the downtown Toronto condo market, then the “experience” and the age of that agent is moot.

On the flip side, if an agent has been licensed to trade in real estate since July 1st, 2013, you might argue that this person knows nothing, has no experience, no knowledge, and no value to the consumer whatsoever.  You could argue to the contrary, I suppose, but I think that might prove difficult.

Having said all of this, my story takes place in 2008 when I was 28 years old, and had been in the business for over four years.

I was living at 230 King Street, and aggressively marketing in that building as a resident Realtor, and a huge fan of the St. Lawrence Market area.

I was called by a resident, who ironically lived on my floor, and we spoke for over a half-hour about the market in the building and in the downtown core, and agreed to speak again the following week.  Our second conversation was even more pleasant, as she seemed to hang on my every word and really trust what I had to say.

She had been living in the condo for three years, with her son, and was looking to sell the property and move to a retirement property up north.  During our conversations, she mentioned, “I really wish that my son could purchase the property from me, but unfortunately he’s not ready for home ownership.”

I understand that.

I’ve sold condos to buyers ranging in age from 19 to 77 years old.  Everybody is “ready” at their own speed, and it seemed like this lady didn’t feel her son was up to the task.  Maybe he was 19-years-old and light-years away from home ownership.  Or maybe he was just a child and couldn’t legally own the place!  Whatever the reason, I really didn’t give it much thought…

I went to meet the lady a week later to discuss the listing process, and of course she had a keen interest in staging, which she figured her unit could benefit from, to show off the second bedroom where her son was living.

I knocked on the door, waited, and then saw the shadow cast when somebody looks through the peep-hole.  It took about another fifteen seconds for the door to open, however, and when the lady opened the door, her mouth was wide open.  She looked at me like she had seen a ghost!

“Mrs. Smith,” I said, as I extended my hand, “How are you?  I’m David Fleming.”

She stood there with her mouth open until finally she said, “My, my, my word.  You’re YOUNG!”

I was 28 years old, so young to somebody who is 90, and old to somebody who is 7.  Pick your posion.

“Young at heart, but an old, old soul,” I joked, not really sure what to say, or why she was starring at me like a customs inspector at the airport.

A few awkward seconds passed, and I asked, “May I come in?”  She paused and said, “I suppose so.”

It was bizarre.

We sat at her kitchen table, and she continued to stare at me like I had a horn growing out of my forehead.

Just one week earlier, she clung on my every word on the telephone, and had all but committed to listing her condo with me.  Now, I could tell she wasn’t really listening to what I said, and I didn’t feel like we were on the same page.

I spent ten minutes guiding her though the condo and telling her what she might want to change, and I asked her if she had any questions.  She replied, “How OLD are you?”  I told her, “twenty-eight,” and she said, “Oh my.”

She was so preoccupied with my age, and I couldn’t understand why.  I wasn’t exactly a seasoned veteran, but in four years in the industry, I had done more business than plenty of older agents who had been in the business longer, and I knew every square inch of every building in the St. Lawrence Market area.

But this lady didn’t seem to care.

She picked apart everything I said, and at one point asked, “Do you mean to tell me that Bosley isn’t even PART of Re/Max?”

She clearly had some preconceptions coming into our meeting, such as the fact that Re/Max is the only real estate company on planet earth, and all Realtors are 60+ years old.

But it wasn’t until the front door opened that I began to fully understand everything.

You see, this condo wasn’t actually a 2-bedroom.  It was a 1-plus-den, with a very, very small den, which had a bookcase jammed in the front to act as a wall of sorts.  Behind that bookcase-wall was a very small single-bed, a dresser, and a lamp.  I’ve seen prison cells that look better…

So with me sitting at the kitchen table getting physically examined by this lady, the key went in the lock, the handle turned, the door opened, and…….it was a man.

Who was this man?  He had a key?

He was about 40-something years old with thick glasses you’d expect to see on Elvis Costello or the Zodiac killer, and he was terribly dressed.

“Hi Mom,” he said, as I finally clued in.  “I’m just going to be a minute and get a few things, and then I’m heading to the library.”

“What time will you be home tonight?” the lady asked.

“I’m not sure,” he said, “But definitely before 9:30.”

Oh My God.

Now it all made sense!

This lady was living with her 40-year-old son, who slept in a tiny alcove behind a book-shelf, and who, I could only assume, had a 9:30pm curfew!

Hahaha now I thought back to the part about “He’s not ready for home ownership,” and it made perfect sense!

Whether this lady was nuts, or her son, or both – she didn’t think that a 40-year-old MAN was grown-up enough to own and maintain a condo.

No freakin’ wonder she looked at me like I was crazy!  She did ask me at one point earlier, “So, do you live by yourself?”  She knew I lived down the hall, and now I began to wonder if maybe she thought I lived with my parents?

I never heard back from that lady, but her unit was listed a couple weeks later.

To nobody’s surprise, the listing agent was about 68-years-old, and worked for Re/Max.  His business card had a home phone, office phone, “cellular mobile” phone, fax number, full brokerage address, but no email address!

The unit showed terribly as the lady didn’t lift a finger before she listed, and it was reduced in price twice before selling for less than I personally thought it was worth.

Realtors “lose” listings all the time, and sometimes they get worked up about it, but this was one that made me laugh over and over.

Of course, there’s probably a day in the future when I’ll be interviewed by a prospective seller and they’ll think I’m too old to be their Realtor.  I guess I’ll look back at this experience with fond memories…

Written By David Fleming

David Fleming is the author of Toronto Realty Blog, founded in 2007. He combined his passion for writing and real estate to create a space for honest information and two-way communication in a complex and dynamic market. David is a licensed Broker and the Broker of Record for Bosley – Toronto Realty Group

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  1. IanC

    at 7:21 am

    Okay. I thought this was going to be about condo age.
    Never mind.

    I bet that her family doctor was 100.

    1. ScottyP

      at 1:06 pm

      No doubt she’s due for a good leeching.

  2. Anonymous

    at 8:12 am

    So is her son going to move in with her at the retirement home, or is he going to *gasp* start living by himself?

  3. Al

    at 8:49 am

    I liked you up until this blog. “The most pathetic franchise”, please tell me your’re not a Habs fan.

    1. David Fleming

      at 11:03 am

      @ Al

      I’m a Leafs fan, born and raised. I went to my first game when I was four years old.

      But I am also an avid sports historian. I’m a nerd, and I actually create and spiral-bind my own booklets full of statistics that I read every night before I go to bed.

      When I was 12, I talked my way into the Hockey Hall of Fame archives department, and spent eight hours going through old scoresheets from the early 1900’s.

      I love the Leafs, but they are truly pathetic, and there is no denying that.

      They aren’t pathetic like the Arizona Cardinals, who missed the playoffs 83 times in 89 years between 1920 and 2008, but they are pathetic as far as the National Hockey League goes over the past 50 years. Yes, they have won 13 Stanley Cups, but ALL of those came when there were only SIX teams in the league. Since Harold Ballard, there has been no true desire to win. “It would be nice to win,” has been the sentiment, but it hasn’t been in any way…..necessary.

      A true “fan” can admit the faults of his or her team. There’s nothing worse than a blind-loyalist.

      1. David Fleming

        at 11:06 am

        PS – I hate Montreal. Not just because they’re the Leafs’ biggest rival, but because I hate their very being, and everything their franchise stands for. Luckily, they’ve decided in past years that building a team around guys that are 5’9″ and 175 pounds is a recipe for success! Hence, their failure…

        1. AsianSensation

          at 1:54 pm

          Ferme la bouche!!!

      2. AsianSensation

        at 11:13 am

        I’m a Habs fan AND I own a Subban jersey!

        Totally off topic, but Phaneuf should be stripped of the ‘C’ and it should be given to Lupul.

        1. Al

          at 1:05 pm

          + 1 for that. Lups is da man.

    2. ScottyP

      at 1:05 pm

      The Leafs are pathetic, as are their fans.

      Anyone with any sense who liked David up until this blog should love him now. If more people thought like him and demanded better, then MLSE might make it a point to stop serving up year-on-year mediocrity to their dumb-as-lemmings customers.

  4. Geoff

    at 9:56 am

    “Most pathetic franchise” – depends on your point of view. From a wealth management point of view, it’s an amazing cash cow that is the envy of most professional teams in the world.

    I had a boss say once that “15 years experience could mean 15 years of succeeding at new, harder things… or it could mean 1 years experience doing nothing times 15”.

    1. Stansky

      at 2:22 pm

      The Clarkson contract isn’t bad. His expected market value, and based on comps seems fair, was over $6mm a year. Some sources were citing he could make 6.5. This deal is really a 5 or 6 year deal, not 7, as we know how the cap math evasion works. At 6 years its 6.12mm a year, which isn’t bad. Remember, next year the cap goes down, but its WIDELY understood that it is going up up up in years after based on new TV contracts in hand for next year (trailing HRR) and the multiple winter classics which are cash cows. He likely wont play out the contract, but its a good deal nonetheless. There is NO ONE of his calibre available, minus Ryan who didnt want to come here and Vinny, who also did not. He also fits our coaching style. Power forwards can also often be moved into a checking role much more effecitvely than finesse players. Think Bertuzzi, Jagr, Primeau, Roenick, Renberg, Holik, Franzen, Tkachuk, Tocchet etc etc.

      1. David Fleming

        at 11:03 pm

        @ Stansky

        Remember when Leafs fans felt spurned by Bobby Holik? The Leafs offered $8.5 Million per year for five years, and New York got him for $9 Million at the last minute. Well, sometimes the best deals are the ones you don’t make!

        Also – I think you wrote “Renberg” by mistake. You certainly don’t mean Mikael Renberg, right? Ugh……reminds me of those awful years when they gave Mats Sundin NOBODY to play with. “Here, Mats, see if you can make this 19-year-old, Matt Stajan, into a premier player. Or this guy Mikael Renberg who used to play with Leclair & Lindros. Or Jonas Hoglund! Or maybe Alyn McCauley or Darcy Tucker? Can you make them 40-goal scorers?” Ughhhhh……Renberg…

        Tkachuk and Roenick are the best two power forwards of our generation – both 500 goal scorers. I hesitate to compare (ahem) David Clarkson, to two guys that are in the 500-goal club.

        Just for fun, how will the Leafs’ lines look?

        Lupul – Bozak – Kessel

        JVR – Kadri – Clarkson

        Kulemin – Bolland – (TBD)

        Orr – McClement – McClaren

        I’d love to move Bolland to the wing and let McClement centre that third line. I love Clemmer – he’s the most underrated player on the Leafs.

        “What does this have to do with real estate,” many of you are asking? Well, nothing…

        1. Stansky

          at 11:56 am

          My point is that compared to a finesse forward, power forwards are easier to shoehorn into a checking role as puck possession and defence are already established skillsets. Guys like Kessel for the most part never become useful in their later years in a checking role, power forwards often do.

          The comparison to Roenick and Tkachuk and Primeau is simply that you once had a 1st line player who played later into his career than would have otherwise been likely because they learned to play as a 3rd line checker and contribute now and then, but really as a checker with possession skills. (Jagr, Bertuzzi).

          McClement is an excellent checker, but he’s simply a role player. I really like BOlland atcentre given how awful Kadri is at faceoffs. BOlland is no ringer at the dot, but he is serviceable.

          Kulemin and Orr are both right wingers, and McLaren plays on the left. You cant have Orr on his off wing, too much of a liability. And that is the brilliance in the Clarkson pickup – the right wing had zero playable grit. Kessel and Kulemin offer zero grit, and Orr isn’t playable for more than a handful of minutes per game, making our RW really soft without Clarkson. When looking at his stats, remember that Clarkson played on a team last year with tied for the lowest GF in the East. Carlyle really wants to get Colborne into the lineup more this year, and he can play centre or left wing. I think we will see a bunch of games with Mclaren or Orr scratched and Joel in there on line 4.

          JVR and Lupul seem to have some real chemistry together, and I hope we get to see some different combinations.

          Also a side note – a lot of GMs have started looking at advanced stats, basically the Billy Bean era of hockey has maybe started. Anyways, Ill let you investigate it yourself, but Clarkson is the #2 rated RW in the NHL based on Corsi stats, which are among the most analyzed of the new analytics. Food for thought. Looking at goals/assists and +- only is an amateur hour game now!

          Behind the net is a cool site with some neat stat breakdowns, although there are others.

    2. ScottyP

      at 1:01 pm

      Your old boss is bang-on, Geoff.

      My personal spin on that is something to the effect of: “You can say you have 15 years’ experience, but that doesn’t mean a whole lot if it’s 15 years of doing something badly.”

  5. Frosty Johansen

    at 11:12 am

    “There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio,
    Than are dreamt of in your philosophy”

    Hey David,

    For every excellent piece (like yesterday’s condo reform post) there’s a dickish frat-boy piece like this one. I’m thinking time and age will tip the scales toward the more thoughtful pieces.

    In the meantime, I’d still hire you.

    Welcome back,

    1. Moonbeam!

      at 12:01 pm

      Oh burn — dickish frat-boy piece? This is an opinion piece about how people often devalue and dismiss a youthful appearance…in this case, resulting in a financial loss. Open your mind, Frosty.

    2. David Fleming

      at 12:54 pm

      @ Frosty

      Gotta mix it up once in a while!

      Don’t forget – my readers are all over the map.

      Some people completely skip the posts with numbers, calculations, statistics, and content that the intellectual readers find stimulating.

      Some people completely skip the dickish frat-boy pieces.

      Who is Horatio? You mean the guy on CSI Miami?

      1. ScottyP

        at 12:58 pm

        There are all of 2 comments on yesterday’s “excellent” piece, one of them from yours truly.

        As of 12:57pm today, there are 14 comments on today’s “dickish frat-boy piece” and counting.


      2. Frosty Johansen

        at 1:33 pm


        Dude, no offence. I like your writing generally, and I understand that one cannot please everybody every post.

        My 3-word burn (thanks Moonbeam! I hadn’t heard that term in ages) was calculated to offend. “Dickish”: because you come off as a dick in that story, frankly. The old lady obviously misjudged your skill, experience, and acumen because of your age. I was with you on that. But then you ridicule her and her middle-aged son for their unconventional, Grey Gardens-ish living arrangement. Which leads me to “Frat-boy”: I meant catering to a circle of like-minded people, especially those who would cheer on pat conclusions.

        So, OK, I’m being dickish too. It’s cuz I think you can do better. All you need is … compassion. Combine that with your awesome observational skills and the results will be dynamite every time. No need to become a bleeding-heart or lefty or bleeding-heart-lefty.

        It is difficult to achieve, but I think you *will* get there. That’s when you will also understand why artists make art.


        1. AsianSensation

          at 2:36 pm

          It was compassion that motivated him to converse initially, yet due to her prejudice/experience she missed out on his representation.

          The rest of the tale just adds context.

          Lest we forget this is a blog about real-estate and not english lit Mr. Hemingway.

        2. FRBYWA

          at 10:20 pm

          All you need is compassion??? WTF….all you need is a brain! Some people here have one and well, some don’t.

  6. lui

    at 9:49 am

    I worked at customer relations for a few years and after a while you can detect signs as to what to expect the first few seconds of meeting a customer.From stance,smile or frown,body position,communication skills and some times their background,certain people are very aggressive but I never judge what they are wearing.I’m working with a agent that knowledgeable,friendly and never over or under explains what is needed to sell a property,from proper staging to price points.Its been a successful relation from the start.

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