How to Use Age to Your Advantage

Jun 21, 2013 5:08:25 PM

His 20-year old peers may be sorting their whites from their brights, but Nathan Flanagan, associate with the Keller Williams Golden Triangle (Ontario) market center has been busy proving that age is nothing but a number when it comes to success in real estate. Flanagan was just 18 and working as a waiter when he first accompanied his dad to an investment seminar. Now, the Ontario resident is not only well into his second year of real estate, he’s on track to exceed everyone’s expectations, closing $8 million in 2012 and $3.9 million through May 2013.


Being baby-faced in an industry commonly characterized by 55-year old women may seem like another stumbling block on the path to launching a real estate career. After all, who would want to work with someone who looks like they should be mowing lawns for pocket change?

“Everyone from teachers to friends had this idea that no one was going to buy real estate from a kid,” laments Flanagan. “They would ask, ‘Who would trust you?’”

To circumvent the issue, Flanagan developed a strategy.

  • Look the part.
  • Study scripts and dialogues
  • Prepare to combat any age-old objections
  • Know when to say "No"

Flanagan wears a suit every day and adheres to a strict level of professionalism. “I also studied my scripts and my market, so when people saw me, they felt I knew what I was talking about,” he says. It worked. “Very rarely do people ask me how old I am.” But when they do, he has a response. “I’ll say things like, ‘It feels like I've been in the business forever,’ and change the subject.” If he reveals his age and they say, “Wow that’s crazy,” he’ll ask if age is going to be a deterrent throughout the process. “If they say ‘yes,’ we stop.”

Nobody has had an issue so far.

If sheer determination isn't enough to prove someone wrong, research actually backs it up. According to researchers at Stanford and Harvard, potential can trump proven value. “The potential to be good at something can be preferred over actually being good at that very same thing,” says Zakary Tormala, co-author of “The Preference for Potential” which was published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.

Angie Cole, associate with the Raleigh, N.C. market center and 2013 REALTOR Magazine 30 Under 30 winner, has similar sentiments about age. “Successful real estate agents are on a continuous learning curve. Don’t allow yourself to have limiting beliefs. Clients want to work with a real estate agent who is positive, confident and makes them feel at ease.”

Work ethic and education count too, says Flanagan. Daniel Zia, another 30 Under 30 winner and associate with the Santa Barbara (Calif.) market center is a big believer in time over task. “Have a plan in place to weather the growth cycle, stay positive, have accountability and encouragement, and consistently perform the right tasks the right way.”

Reflecting on his out-of-the –gate success, Flanagan credits his team leader Tony Olajide for much of his confidence. “If it wasn't for Tony, who said, ‘You have to give this a shot and believe in yourself and how you portray yourself,’ I wouldn't be here.”