Written by The Business Journal Staff
For nearly 40 years, Sue Liskey has helped Fresnans navigate one of the most important events in their lives — the purchase or sale of a home. But at an age when most folks are slowing down and enjoying retirement, Liskey, 82, is showing property and closing deals.
A resident at The Terraces at San Joaquin Gardens in central Fresno, the energetic Realtor has carved out a lucrative niche for herself, in part, by helping some of her neighbors at the retirement community sell their homes.
Liskey has already sold more than $1.5 million worth of real estate in 2016 and says that during a typical year, she averages about 15 sales. “I get a lot of referrals and repeat business,” she said. “I tell my clients we’re joined for life.”
For Liskey, real estate is more than a profession — it’s a passion and labor of love. “One of the things I like about my career is that I’m performing a service,” she said. “I’m helping people. Every transaction is different but it’s still exciting after all of these years.”
Besides catering to seniors, Liskey also works with a lot of veterans and first-time homebuyers. “When I work with first-time homebuyers, they’re so appreciative,” she said. “They think I’ve performed a miracle when I hand them the keys.”
Liskey was born in Paul Valley, Oklahoma, and has lived in the Fresno area since 1942. “I came west with my parents and siblings,” she said. “It was during the Dust Bowl years and my dad was looking for work.”
After graduating from Caruthers High, Liskey’s first job was as a secretary for the Washington Union School District.
Her entry into real estate came in 1979. “My second husband and I had made a decision to buy some apartments,” she said. “I thought, ‘If we’re going to get involved in real estate, I better know what I’m doing.’ So I went to real estate school, got my license and have never looked back.”
Liskey has worked for several local firms during her Valley real estate career and at one time, ran her own 15-Realtor office — Vintage Realty — “until the bubble came” in 2007, she said.
For the past nine years, she’s worked for London Properties. Her assessment of the current residential real estate market is upbeat. “I’m busy,” she said. “I think the market is recuperating.”
Patrick Connor, president of London Properties, has known Liskey for 35 years.
“Sue is wonderful,” Connor said. “She is forever the professional and loved by her clients, and respected and appreciated by her peers.”
“We could not be more proud to have her in what we call our ‘London Family,’ Connor added. “Sue makes a difference in every endeavor she takes on and I think makes those around her stretch to their higher potential as well.”
Among Liskey’s more recent clients are several new residents of The Terraces at San Joaquin Gardens, which is run by California-based nonprofit ABHOW, which operates 50 retirement communities in California, Arizona, Nevada, Washington, Oklahoma and Idaho.
The Terraces is a sprawling Mediterranean-style property offering 262 independent living and 58 assisted living apartments as well as a 26-bed memory care unit and a 60-bed skilled nursing facility. Liskey and her husband Quinter, a retired elementary school principal, moved there several years ago and are big fans of the property’s many amenities and lively social life.
“Who better to help other people make the transition to retirement home living than me,” Liskey said. “I know how hard it is to downsize and make a big change in your lifestyle.”
Liskey, who has three adult children, three adult step-children, 12 grandchildren and 17 great grandchildren, said she and her husband made the decision to move to a retirement community because “we were getting to that age and we didn’t want our kids to have to take care of us.”
“I’ve been blessed with good health,” she said. “But the golden years are not always so golden. This place fits our needs so well. They have so many wonderful amenities here. It’s almost like a timeshare.”
And while selling real estate keeps her busy, Liskey still finds time to serve on The Terraces’ advisory board, volunteer at a local hospice and teach at-risk women how to knit and crochet at a local mental health facility.
Her years of volunteer work and dedication to easing the anxiety and stress that often accompany a home sale for many seniors was recently recognized by the Fresno City Council, which earlier this spring gave her a plaque and designated April 21 as “Sue Liskey Day.”
“They really surprised me with that award,” Liskey said. “It was such an honor.”
Liskey admits her husband would like her to retire. “He thinks I work too hard and my schedule’s too stressful,” she said.
But so far, Liskey shows no signs of slowing down.
“Sometimes I run into old friends and they ask me, ‘Are you still working?’ — like it’s a crime,” Liskey said. “But as long as my health is good, I’m going to work. I was 45 years old when I became a Realtor and have been at it full-time ever since. It’s proof that it’s never too late to start a career.”