Real Estate Broker Sandy Garner, Known for Her Influence on Bend & Redmond’s Best Known Developments, Retires After 45 Years


(Sandy Garner | Photo by Em’s Lens Photography)

It was 1979, Sandy Garner was a recently divorced mother with two young children, out on her first showing as a newly licensed realtor with the produce manager from the Erikson’s Thriftway in Redmond, Oregon. It was pouring rain and pitch black, and she was lost. With no cell phone or map, she came upon a Coldwell Banker sign that said “build to suit.” Thinking on her feet, knowing veterans could get low interest rates on new construction loans, she turned to her client and said, “Bob, why don’t we build you a house?” And that was just what he did. From that pivotal moment, Sandy made the dreams of thousands of homeowners come true, working with individuals, builders and developers to successfully market and sell some of Bend’s landmark residential developments, including award-winning neighborhoods that made Craftsman period design the city’s signature architectural style. This summer, after 45 years in real estate, Garner, the founder of Harcourts The Garner Group, retires.

A native and lifelong resident of Central Oregon, Garner’s trademark became new neighborhoods and her relationships with builders. Her first endeavor was Tanglewood, where she worked in partnership with Eric and Marilyn Loftsgard of Loftsgard Homes. The Loftsgards, who built spec and custom homes in neighborhoods all over Bend and Redmond, developed an enduring relationship with Garner, which they spoke to from their home in Nicaragua, where they now run educational leadership and development.

“The empire and legacy that Sandy built was never about herself, it was about other people,” said the Loftsgards. “That was what she built: incredible networks and relationships first, then the business grew. There were so many times that in order to make the deal go through, she would be the first to sacrifice. She wanted everyone to have the home, to have success. We knew she had our back; there was integrity there. Her goal was to serve people first.”

From 1979 to 1987 Garner was first affiliated with United Properties, then with Coldwell Banker Morris Real Estate in Bend from 1987 until Dec. 31, 2007. She formed The Garner Group in 2001 as the top producing team within the locally owned Coldwell Banker agency, becoming the agency’s top producing residential associate in Oregon for five consecutive years, leading the group to top team honors in the company’s 17-state Western Region in 2005 and 2006. She was a member of the agency’s President’s Premier/Elite Club for over a decade, signifying sales volume in the top 1% of Coldwell Banker associates throughout the world.

While Garner’s star seemed to rise throughout her career, it wasn’t always an easy path.

“When I started in 1979, ranchers wanted to meet me at the start of their day, 5am at their kitchen tables in a panic trying to unload their land due to the recession,” said Garner. “It was always an ‘eat what you kill’ situation, but having grown up in a household where I could feel financial strain from a very young age, I was willing to do what it took. Starting in 2006 and through 2008, there were periods of time when I would lose 25 deals in a month. It hasn’t always been a walk in the park, but with my family involved from the very beginning, there is nothing but pride in what it has become.”

The Garner Group became its own brokerage in 2008, then joined the Harcourts franchise in 2014. Harcourts, an Australian company founded in 1888 and the fastest growing real estate business in the world, has 840 offices worldwide and 43 in North America, among which Harcourts The Garner Group frequently ranks number one. In 2016, Garner sold the agency to her children, Erica Davis and Shelley Griffin and niece Sara LaFaver. Davis, Broker, Griffin, Broker and LaFaver, Principal Broker, have continued the tradition of top rankings, with the agency ranking top ten internationally. Many of their nearly 50 agents, all of whom are full time, rank in the top 20 of the franchise’s agents nationally.

“Regardless of the market, regardless of a pandemic, we always circle the wagons and get done what we need to get done,” said Davis. “We are always here for our agents, and this is what she taught us–even in periods of time that are the most critically unknown, we cheer our team on and are like a family.”

The deeply rooted, family-centric feeling at Harcourts The Garner Group is something that Garner influenced from early on. Griffin recalls picking up the landline in her childhood home in Redmond to take down messages for her mom when she was a girl, essentially starting her own career in real estate at a young age.

“When I have conversations with clients, I often hear mom’s voice in my head. She’s an outstanding real estate salesperson, there’s no two ways about it,” said Griffin. “We all say things that she said, and there is so much truth in them. She taught us how to work hard, that’s one of the biggest things. She was going to make sure that we were tough, tough enough to weather any storm.”

“Sandy’s been an invaluable mentor and role model in my life,” said LaFaver. “I’ve learned so much from her, but the most important thing she taught me was that you can achieve anything through hard work–it’s always been important to her that she was bringing up strong women.”

“Sandy is a remarkable woman whose enduring career in real estate left a profound legacy–her influence is something I cherish and admire,” said Garner’s stepdaughter and Harcourts The Garner Group Broker, Alison Mata.

A testament to Garner’s influence are the number of family members who have counted real estate as their career, including her daughters, sons-in-law, stepchildren, niece, grandchildren and brother-in-law.

“What more could you want than your children and family to be happy?” asked Garner.


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