Inaugural Realtor Rally launched by county realtor board

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FARMINGTON — The inaugural Realtor Rally provided local Realtors with an opportunity to learn how to handle some potentially dangerous situations they may face while showing homes.

The new event, hosted by the San Juan County Board of REALTORS on July 19 at the Farmington Museum at Gateway Park, focused on Realtor safety.

The goal of the Realtor Rally was to give San Juan County Realtors a chance to relax, network, get to know each other and learn safety and self-defense tips from the professionals, according to Stephen Foster, the president of the realty board.

Foster said Realtor safety is a constant issue for the board and its 200 members.

"We always have to be vigilant and ready for whatever comes our way," Foster said. "We spend so much time with strangers that call and want to look at a house."

Nationwide, 38 percent of Realtors experienced a situation that made them fear for their personal safety or the safety of their personal information, according to a 2017 National Association of REALTORS member safety report.

Those incidents were more frequent with women in suburban areas.

Foster cited the 2004 murder of Garland Taylor, an Albuquerque Realtor who was found shot and killed in an unoccupied home he listed.

"You never know when the enemy is going to strike, you have to be ready at all times," Foster said.

Representatives from the local agencies including the Marine Corps Recruiting Station, San Juan County Communications Authority and San Juan Regional Medical Center paramedics had booths set up to provide information to the Realtors.

The Farmington Police Department set up one of its mobile command units with members of its district coordinator units offering advice and safety tips.

Some of the advice shared included paying attention where individuals are in a house, sharing your location with someone at the office and being familiar with the property prior to showing it, according to Farmington Police spokesperson Georgette Allen.

"We have a lot of remote areas out here," Allen said. "You might not be in a neighborhood, you might be out in the middle of nowhere with a stranger."

Farmington officers gave demonstrations of Jane Jitsu, self-defense training geared for women, which is taught during the department's Woman with Insight program.

The San Juan County Sheriff's Office had set up a course of traffic cones so attendees could drive golf carts while wearing drunk goggles, which simulated different blood alcohol content levels.

Sheriff's Office spokesperson Jayme Harcrow said the goggles simulated blood alcohol content levels ranging from relatively sober to extremely intoxicated.

"We've heard there is a drinking culture involved in real estate in some sense," Harcrow said. "You take a client out for a drink and we just want to encourage safe driving whenever (Realtors) are in those situations."

Kira Garcia, team leader of KG and Associates at Keller Williams, is the office's safety chair.

She said some of the protocols she follows includes making sure the clients are at the home when they enter to avoid entering a vacant home alone.

She always knocks on the door before entering a home, so if someone who shouldn't be at the home is there, they will be aware others are entering.

Garcia added she makes sure her vehicle is parked in such a way that she can leave the property quickly if necessary.

"There are a lot of protocols that we take," Garcia said. "There have been some situations in the past, so we always want to make sure we are proactive and make sure all the Realtors are safe."

Her Realtor group also had a safety course taught during a luncheon last year. For Garcia, she has taken two conceal carry courses and said a lot of her Realtors have taken a gun safety course.

Joshua Kellogg covers crime, courts and social issues for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4627 or via email at jkellogg@daily-times.com.

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