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A real character – one of the most knowledgeable and colorful real estate agents in the game – that’s how many friends, clients and business colleagues have referred to Gary Sandler, owner of Gary Sandler Inc. Realtors – also now the longest running talk show host in southern New Mexico.
Sandler, a southern California native with a long history in real estate, hosts a talk show from 4 to 6 p.m. every Monday on KSNM-AM 570. He also regularly contributes his real estate know-how to the Las Cruces Bulletin.
“To be able to operate in such a friendly environment and to have the open spaces to share with people is a bit like heaven,” he said.
Helping people is akin to Sandler’s personality.
“People like me because I’m positive, and if there’s a way, I can find a way to get it done,” he said.
Sandler was born in Long Beach, Calif., where he attended and graduated from Robert Millikan High School. Sandler joined the Air Force post–graduation, “to avoid the draft,” he chuckled. He became a B-52 crew chief during his four years in service.
“I loved airplanes since I was a kid, and I wanted to support the war effort,” he said. “It was a blast. Here I was, a 20-year-old taking care of one of the most lethal weapons in the U.S. arsenal. I really enjoyed it.”
It was during his time in service Sandler met his first wife, which led him to a new life in Council Bluffs, Iowa. There, he applied to become a firefighter, but jumped at the chance of becoming a police officer.
“I enjoyed my time as a patrol officer in Council Bluffs, but honestly, the pay was too poor – you couldn’t make a decent living at it,” he said.
Instead, Sandler focused his efforts on maximizing his selling potential. He left the force after two years and began selling Chryslers.
“I became a top-seller and transitioned into management in no time,” he said. “It was easy.”
It was also during his time in Iowa that Sandler’s first daughter Julie was born, but never wanting to sit still and with a desire to fish in a bigger pond, Sandler again was California-bound. He returned to his hometown to sell real estate with his father and grandfather, who were already established Realtors.
“It took about a year for me to get out from under their wing, and strike out on my own,” he said. “I learned a very important lesson during that time – put customers first, because real estate is not about the property, it’s about people. Whatever success I’ve achieved has come from focusing on the people.”
From the late ’70s to the early ’90s, Sandler comfortably lived in harmony with the real estate industry. He learned to predict market shifts, became attuned to his clients’ needs and prospered from his ability to sell homes.
“During a time when I worked for Coldwell Banker, out of 42 offices and 1,600 agents in southern California, I was No. 8 in listings sold,” he said. “I’m pretty proud of that, because it was during a time like this when the market had collapsed.”
Sandler said he often gave the same response when people questioned the California market.
“It’s unbelievable, I would tell them. Because it was – it was either unbelievably good or unbelievably bad,” he said.
After unsuccessfully moving further south to escape the congestion of the big city and watching market trends continue to fluctuate, Sandler decided it was time to start a new chapter in his career. Always analytical, Sandler researched various Southwest locales and chose Las Cruces to make his new home.
“California got so crowded – all the way from Long Beach to South Bay and into San Diego County. It was just too congested,” he said. “I researched the market here and found it would be a perfect place for a guy like me.”
Sandler moved to Las Cruces in 1993 and began working for Electronic Realty Associates, where immediately he made an impact.
“I came here, plugged in the same marketing plan that I used in San Diego and in my first full year here I became the top-selling ERA agent,” he said. “For two years in a row I had the top dollar volume, and the next year I sold the most units.”
The transition wasn’t as hard as Sandler had imagined. “It’s much easier here. You can tour the whole area in two hours by car,” he said. “It’s a lot more personal and hands on because LA is so dense you really can’t see much when you’re driving around. The
quality of life here has always been my selling point.”
Sandler then moved on to work for Re/Max Classic Realty, where he became the No. 3 Re/Max sales associate in New Mexico.
In 1999, he began to host a talk radio show on KOBE-AM 1450, the start of an 11-year relationship with the listeners of Las Cruces. Coupled with a column Sandler wrote for the Las Cruces Sun-News, he was back in the marketing niche he had mastered
in southern California.
In 2001, Sandler started his own business, Gary Sandler Inc. Realtors, occupying space in the Telshor Towers business complex. In 2003, Sandler took his show to KSNM-AM 570 and his column to the Las Cruces Bulletin as part of a rebranding effort. Together, they formed Gary Sandler’s Real Estate Connection.
“I always enjoyed the radio, and listening to people’s concerns and thoughts,” he said. “I especially enjoyed having guests on such as Gov. Bill Richardson and other city, county and state officials.”
Today, Sandler operates from his own location at 300 N. Main St. Las Cruces, NM 88001, and sermonizes real estate over the airwaves every Monday afternoon. He said retirement is still not in the picture.
“I think real estate is just a part of my life, so I’ll always be in real estate somehow,” he said. “I don’t picture myself retiring in the traditional sense. There’s no timeline for that at this point.”
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