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‘You can do real estate until you’re dead’: Changing careers in your 60s

By Orana Durney-Benson
28 March 2024 | 11 minute read
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Peter Parker first started working at the tender age of 11. Over half a century later, he made the bold decision to transition into a brand-new career: real estate.

RE/MAX Penrith’s Peter Parker – no relation to the Marvel superhero – has experienced a whirlwind of change over the past four years.

In August 2020, a failed hotel business and a mutual connection in real estate veteran Phil Haley brought him headlong into a career he had never dreamed of.

“Being the age that I am, going back into catering and that sort of thing full-time is probably not a smart idea – there’s a lot of hours on your feet,” said Parker.

He considered doing further education, until his daughter, a successful interior designer, suggested that he take up a career in real estate.

For most 63-year-olds a change on that scale would be daunting, but Parker is used to change.

“If you go back to 1966 we had pounds, shillings and pence, and we changed to dollars and cents, miles to kilometres, pounds to grams, gallons to litres – so from a very young age, I’ve been pretty used to change,” reflected Parker.

If change has been one of the few constants in Parker’s life, a strong connection with people has been the other.


From wedding events to high-end catering and even working at Fairfield City Farm, Parker has always prided himself on building strong relationships with his customers that continue to live on even after the transaction has closed.

“I can name all the clients that I have sold off-the-plan properties to,” Parker said. “One of my clients, Martin, passed away at 48 last year, and during our time together I stayed over at their place a couple of times,” reflected the agent, who still helps out Martin’s wife and two sons to this day.

Parker’s long experience in business management has also served him well.

From working at a hardware store at the age of 11 to owning his first hospitality business at the age of 22, Parker has always had an entrepreneurial spirit; and it has given him an edge in sales negotiations.

In June 2021, Parker listed a Thirroul townhouse for $850,000 on behalf of a young client. Within weeks, the property sold for $1.2 million site unseen – a result that Parker attributes to his ability to carefully negotiate with the vendor.

From Parker’s perspective, a real estate agent is the archetypal jack-of-all-trades.

“We need to be bits of lawyers, and bits of financiers, and bits of all sorts of issues that we need to deal with,” he said. “I’ve found that challenging but very educational.”

While many would find the prospect of a career change in their sixties daunting, Parker believes that it has the potential to reimbue life with a sense of meaning and purpose.

“I think we become more spiritual as we get older and have a look at the life that we’ve led,” said Parker.

“People who have never experienced change before – think about teachers, doctors, public servants and whatever – they get to a certain age and they go, ‘Oh my God, I don’t know what I’m doing with myself’.”

It’s a crisis that he believes can be particularly acute for men, who “tend to define ourselves by the occupation that we do.”

Change on this scale is, of course, “not for everyone” – but for those ready to dive into the unknown, Parker knows that the experience can bring rich and unforgettable rewards.

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