104-Year-Old Agent Is Still Loving Real Estate

A prominent Florida brokerage celebrates REALTOR® Rosa Nell Hammer, a local legend whose old-fashioned ways remain widely admired.

Talk about seniority.

Rosa Nell Hammer, a sales associate at The Keyes Company Miami Lakes Welcome Center, has worked in real estate for 56 years. On Oct. 2, Hammer turned 104—and she remains an active licensee and member of the National Association of REALTORS®. To celebrate her birthday, The Keyes Company threw a party.

“She’s probably the most amazing person I have met in my life,” says Alex Ruiz, who has been Hammer’s manager at The Keyes Company since 1983. She’s widely known and respected in the Miami Lakes community, he adds. In fact, the town recently renamed the street she lives on “Rosa Nell Hammer Parkway,” and in August, the local Veterans Committee planted an oak tree in her honor at Veterans Park.

Hammer was born in Mississippi in 1919. She told The Miami Laker in a 2014 interview that she relocated to Akron, Ohio, during the early years of World War II to work in a Goodyear aircraft factory before moving to a South Carolina Air Force base to repair planes. She married Harvey Hammer, who was serving in the Army Air Corps, and they began a series of military relocations that would serve as the inspiration for her real estate career. They lived in Japan twice before settling in Miami in 1955 to raise their children. Today, Hammer is a mother of four, grandmother of eight and great-grandmother of six.

In the late 1960s, Hammer decided to pursue a career in real estate. She told The Miami Laker that her experience selling her own home and moving many times gave her the confidence to help buyers and sellers achieve their real estate goals. She earned her real estate license at age 48, and, in 1967, she started her career at The Keyes Company. Beginning in the 1970s, she spent 20 years selling new construction with The Graham Companies, the developer and builder of the town of Miami Lakes. After the death of her husband, Hammer intended to retire. But her love for the business kept her from leaving it. When her manager at The Graham Companies opened a real estate brokerage office, she went to work for him. Later, the brokerage was purchased by The Keyes Company, bringing her real estate career full circle.

“Rosa is very brilliant and knowledgeable,” Ruiz says. “She’s never used a computer in her life but knows the market better than most of us.”

Jane Gentile-Youd, a broker in Ormond Beach, Fla., and a close friend and former colleague of Hammer, says she’s always been struck by Hammer’s integrity and energy. “When we worked together in the early 2000s, she was the only agent who handwrote and hand-addressed every single one of her several hundred holiday cards,” she recalls. In her spare time, Gentile-Youd marvels, Hammer learned to cultivate orchids and make stained glass. In her 80s, she created stained-glass windows that now adorn her front door and kitchen cabinets.

Ruiz and Gentile-Youd aren’t the only colleagues to herald Hammer’s example. Allan Pelaez, broker-owner of Hammer Realty in Miami Lakes, named his company after her. “When I started in the industry, she took me under her wing,” he says. In return, he handled her computer work.

“She is a living encyclopedia and taught me everything I know about real estate—and everything she taught me, I wanted to follow,” Pelaez says. “The principles that made her successful would be my guiding light.”

One of those principles could very well be endurance. As recently as 2019, at the age of 100, Hammer completed a real estate deal. Despite recent hip and knee replacements, she continues to send referrals to the company’s property management division and maintains a desk at the office. According to Ruiz, Hammer plans to work for The Keyes Company as long as she can.

“I just love to meet people and hear their life stories,” Hammer says. There’s no surer proof of her genuine interest in others than her impressive track record in real estate.

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