Guam Real Estate News & Market Trends

You’ll find our blog to be a wealth of information, covering everything from the Guam market statistics and home values to community happenings on the island. That’s because we care about the island community and want to help you find your place in it. Please reach out to us if you have any questions at all. We’d love to talk with you!

Jan. 18, 2022

What is a Defective Home and How to Sell It?

 

vandalized broken window on house or by bird in flight

When is a home considered defective?

It's when any or all of these are present:

1. The home is in a bad location.

Why does location matter so much? For a start, you can’t move a home — at least not easily or inexpensively. When you buy a home in a good location, it’s usually a solid long-term investment.

Buyers might perceive some neighborhoods as bad even though more desirable areas might be as close as across the street. Whatever the reason for the perception, bad locations affect the values of homes. Owning a home near any of the following types of locations often is detrimental to market value:

  • Main thoroughfares with a lot of traffic

  • Commercial or industrial properties

  • Apartment buildings

  • Utility structures such as waste, electrical, and water

  • Cemeteries

  • Noise from nearby airport

  • Garbage, landfills, and recycling

  • Schools

  • Government housing or government buildings

  • Sports arenas

  • Odors from neighboring farms

Many of these are based on preference.

A bad location can be an incurable defect that will forever hold down the value of a property.

Overcoming bad locations

If you know your market...or if you have a great realtor who knows the Guam market...., you have a better chance of understanding what is a good deal in any particular neighborhood and will more likely have an idea if an area is improving or deteriorating. In purchasing a property, both numbers and location should make sense.

The right approach when selling a home in a less desirable location is often to price lower it than competing inventory. It's not an approach designed to turn a profit from a sale, but it is better than leaving the home languishing on the market for too long without any interest.

2. The home has a bad layout.

These are the three main components in hunting for a property: price, condition and location. If your location is bad, price around the neighborhood would be lower so, the house condition has to be better.

A bad location is not the only defect a home on the market might always have. In fact, the home might be in a great location, but other factors, such as a bad layout, can turn off buyers. Not all bad layouts can be rectified easily and often are considered incurable defects. If the cost to fix exceeds the boost in expected selling price, it might be better to offer a remodeling credit to the buyer. Examples of bad layouts include:

  • Narrow doorways and halls

  • Interior stairs facing an entrance

  • Hallway facing an entrance

  • Adjoining bedrooms

  • Bedrooms located on separate levels

  • Dining room in the center of the home

  • Bedrooms accessed from living or family rooms

  • Guest bathroom in an unappealing location

  • Choppy placement of rooms without flow

  • Upper-floor bedrooms with stairs in the center

These types of homes sell for less than surrounding homes with more conforming layouts of similar square footage. Many homes of this nature in desirable neighborhoods land in the hands of house flippers, who have the vision and expertise to change the layout and resell the property at a high profit.

3. The home has damage and needs deferred maintenance.

Most deferred maintenance are quick and easy fixes that sellers might not notice often, but these are key things that potential buyers might look at when they visit the property. These are mostly small things that should be taken care of first. If these things are taken cared of prior to the visit, the likelihood of the potential buyer looking at the good potential are higher than focusing on the negative ones.

A potential buyer would always want to walk in a house imagining happily imagining themselves in there rather than thinking immediately of the list of things that needs to be repaired in house. Sellers should always keep in mind to fix those things prior to the home inspection.

Homes that require a lot of work will not sell for the same amount as comparable homes that do not require work. Buyers will refuse to pay top market value for homes with deferred maintenance. A contractor who plans to resell a home in fixed-up conditions will expect a reasonable profit and will factor in the costs of resale upon purchasing.

Most buyers of deferred-maintenance homes demand an added incentive as compensation for unforeseen problems. For example, a home that requires $50,000 of work among homes selling for $300,000 will not command a price of $250,000.

Sometimes a buyer will purchase a home to fix up because the buyer expects the renovation to be a labor of love. However, those homes typically sell for a bit more due to location.

 

 

If you need help in how to price your home correctly with the defects mentioned above, give us a call at 1-671-687-7520 and let's schedule a FREE assessment.

Posted in Guam Home Selling
Jan. 13, 2022

WARNING! 5 Ways To Lose Money On Your Home Sale

It doesn’t take much to turn off buyers in Guam. Right now, however, there are so many in the market, clamoring for homes in decent areas and in good condition, that homes are practically selling themselves. Getting the most money possible for your home, however, requires a bit of work. Skipping the following, basic tips, is like throwing money away. We at Living On Guam Realty would like to help you step up your home’s game so you can reap maximum rewards.

1. Ignore your home’s appearance from the curb

“Curb appeal” isn’t just a concept from home and garden TV shows; it’s actually what gets homebuyers out of the car and into the house. Stand at the curb and take a look at the exterior of your home and the landscaping. Like what you see? If not, a little bit of elbow grease can change that. If your home needs painting, paint it. Stick with neutral colors, such as gray, taupe and white, according to the experts at Benjamin Moore. For a pop of interest, paint the door a coordinating color. Black is popular right now, but red and blue are attractive as well. Next, turn your attention to the landscaping. Just as you’ll need to do to the interior, clean the landscaping of any debris. If the lawn isn’t dormant, mow it and add fresh mulch to the beds. Then, add attractive plants (even if they’re potted). Ensure that the exterior of the home is as inviting as possible.

2. Assuming since you can’t smell it, buyers won’t either

We’ve all walked into a home and been blasted by stinky, stale odors. Whether they come from pets, kids, cooking or cigarettes, these odors can have potential buyers running for the door. Fabrics hold odors so consider having upholstered furniture professionally cleaned. Dry-clean or launder drapes, curtains and throw rugs. If the odor is cigarette smoke, you may need to paint. Wash the ceilings and walls first with ammonia and water.

3. Your bathroom seen better days

Yes, we understand how difficult it is to keep the hardest-working room in the home tidy. But bathrooms are important to buyers, so yours should be spotless and completely depersonalized. After cleaning and painting (if necessary), remove personal items, such as toothbrushes, mouthwash, toothpaste, shampoo, etc. from the countertop and the /tub shower’s interior. Ensure that the shower curtain and the toilet lid are closed. A good rule of thumb for the bathroom is that if something is not decorative, remove it from view.

4. Your home’s interior gives off a“cave” vibe

For as long as we can remember, homebuyers value a light and bright atmosphere over all else. Most of the time they don’t know why a dark home feels uncomfortable; it’s more of a perception. It’s imperative to remedy a lack of natural light in the home. You can do this with additional lighting and by opening all window coverings. Dark and gloomy doesn’t sell homes. Light and bright does. Light up every dark space in the home.

5. Assume buyers won’t look at your garage.

 

You won’t like this one. Clean the garage. In their efforts to de-clutter their homes for sale, we see many clients shove all the excess into the garage. Bad move, especially in light of the fact that 86 percent of homebuyers want garage storage space. Show them how roomy yours is by removing oversized items (take them to storage) and cleaning the garage with the same zeal you did when cleaning the home. Organize what’s left so that the room screams “Look at all this storage space!” Ensure that while it’s on the market, your home is the belle of the neighborhood. Correcting these five deal breakers is inexpensive and easy but play a big role in your home’s presentation. Talk to our real estate agents for expert advice on selling your home. Call us at 1-671-687-7520.

Posted in Guam Home Selling
Jan. 12, 2022

Negotiation: There’s more than the price of the home to consider

Naturally, the price of a home is top-of-mind when we talk about negotiating in a real estate deal. And, for some homebuyers, these negotiations are critical.

But, did you know that there are other ways to bargain with a home seller other than on price? The purchase agreement is full of haggling opportunities. Let’s take a look at five of them we deal with most often.

1. Repairs

Negotiating home repairs is something we are quite familiar with. After the home inspection, when the homebuyer receives the inspector’s report, negotiations often begin anew.

Understand, however, that no home is perfect; even newly-constructed homes can have problems. Don’t sweat the small stuff – save the negotiations for anything major that needs repair or replacement.

This is especially true if the problems are in one or more of the home’s major systems, such as HVAC, electrical, plumbing or with the roof or foundation.

We can negotiate for a price reduction, closing costs credit or for the repair work to be performed by the seller before closing. The first two options (price reduction or credit towards closing costs) are preferable, as they won’t typically delay the closing.

Plus, there is no way to guarantee the repair work, if performed by the seller’s contractor, will meet your standards.

2. Closing costs

With a mortgage comes a requirement to pay a down payment and closing costs. The latter includes all the costs of obtaining the loan, such as lender fees, notary fees and more.

While sellers are under no obligation to do so, many buyers negotiate with the seller to pay all or part of their closing costs.

It’s an easier pill for the seller to swallow if:

  • Your offer for the home is at full asking price

  • You intend to keep your request for repairs to a minimum. If the seller has to pay for a laundry list of requested repairs, he or she may not be amenable (or have the funds) to assist with your closing costs.

  • You put some skin in the game as well, by paying for a portion of your closing costs

3. Personal property

Anything that isn’t permanently affixed to the home or land (real property) is considered the personal property of the homeowner. Personal property that we commonly negotiate over for our homebuying clients include:

  • Appliances, such as refrigerator, washer, dryer

  • Window coverings

  • Chandeliers

  • Portable out-buildings

Buyers, however, have negotiated for furniture, pool tables, artwork and even the family pet.

4. Closing date

The closing date – the day on which the home becomes yours – is negotiable. This is important to know for several reasons:

  • If you are trying to time the closing of your current home to be simultaneous with the new home’s closing.

  • You need more time to find another home

  • You are relocating and need to be in your new city by a certain date

If your schedule doesn’t conflict with the seller’s this is often a successful negotiation.

5. Home warranty

Real estate agents have a love-hate relationship with home warranties. Some consider them useless while others love them for the peace-of-mind they offer homebuyers.

If a home warranty is something that you desire, it’s possible to ask the seller to provide you with one – at least for the first year of home ownership.

Basic coverage varies by region and company, but commonly includes coverage for:

  • HVAC systems

  • Kitchen appliances

  • Plumbing

  • Electrical

  • Roof leaks

While the above is only a partial list of commonly negotiated items in a home purchase, it outlines the ones we see most often.

Feel free to reach out to us if you have questions on this or any aspect of the home purchase process.

Posted in Guam Home Buying
Jan. 11, 2022

What To Consider Before Investing in Real Estate

Making a real estate investment is always a great choice, however, people are usually faced with so many questions that they might be potentially deterred from making such an investment. So let’s discuss several factors that you should consider before making such a major decision.

The Market You’re Buying In

Carefully analyzing the neighborhood your potential property is located in is pivotal. What does the future hold for this city or region and how will it affect your property’s price/value should you decide to sell it? It is also important to keep a close eye on developing area’s nearby, trendy upcoming neighborhoods can significantly affect a potential buyers interest in your property.

Return On Investment

It’s only wise to invest in a property that will give you a high return on your investment. Do not avoid properties simply because they are need of some renovations, as the flaws will help you buy cheap and sell high after renovating. In fact most seasoned real estate experts will suggest that you had better buy a structure that needs renovations to help maximize potential profits.

Your Budget

Real estate comes in various shapes and sizes which can easily translate into different prices. As a buyer this can result in serious temptation to spend beyond your means but that shouldn’t be the case if you’ve prepared a budget. By consciously planning the money you can afford to spend on property you will be able to make a successful investment and avoid future losses. As you plan the budget remember that most expensive does not always equal to the best quality. In light of this, you should prepare your budget around other factors that would make the property appealing to you.

What Type Of Loans Do You Need?

As you prepare the budget, you may discover that your funds are not sufficient to cater to the investment. This calls for loans that enable you buy the property you’re attracted to. Before approaching the bank however, pause to consider which type of loan is ideal for you. There is the option of zero down payment, adjustable floating rate, and fixed rate mortgages, among others. Make sure to look around for the best deal to avoid paying unnecessarily high interest rates, premiums or processing fees.

Established Or Under Construction

As a new investor there is always the choice of buying a property that seasoned or established as well as one that is still being built. The latter provides options to customize, attractive pricing as well as clear titles. The downsides to such an investment is that you might experience delays in possession or minimal knowledge of the area. Established buildings may also be quite expensive but you’ll often find comfort in the neighborhood their located in. Remember, you will still need to look a little deeper into ownership and legal affairs.

Real estate agents

Finally, you should consider the assistance of a real estate agent to help guide you through this process. This is the best decision that you can make if you want to make the best possible investment. Agents understand the property market, are familiar with various neighborhoods and have close connections with financial institutions that you might need for lines of credit. The biggest advantage of having a real estate agent in your corner is that they understand all the legal jargon involved in the delicate investment property process as well. This will only help you make the ideal choice without the risk of buying a property that’s entangled in legal tussles.

 

Real estate is a great way to invest and protect your wealth but that is only possible if you make careful considerations before appending your signature to the sales document. This keeps you safe from unscrupulous dealers while ensuring that you get the highest returns in the long term. It might take some time to analyze all the factors involved in a successful purchase but that is a small price to pay if you want to land the best piece of real estate available. You must get a clear understanding of the landscape to gain more confidence in the property you want to buy and hope to sell in future.

Posted in Guam Home Buying
Jan. 6, 2022

Still haven’t found your dream home? Consider a fixer-upper

 

Have you made your wish list of all the things you crave in a new home?

If you have, you may wonder if there’s a home on earth that has all those features, at a price you can afford. Probably not, but in cases like this, it’s time to change the way you shop.

Start looking at ugly homes.

Surprised? Homes that need work, or “fixers” as they are called in the real estate industry, are the ideal choice for the picky homebuyer, and here’s why:

  • They are less expensive than homes in move-in condition.

  • There is typically less competition in the fixer market.

  • You can customize the home to fit your home-buying wish list.

  • You may be able to buy in a more expensive neighborhood, which will help boost the home’s value when it’s repaired.

  • Financing options are quite attractive.

“In some markets, buying a fixer can really be a game changer, bringing the typical single-family home into reach for a median-income household,” says Realtor.com’s Cicely Wedgeworth.

Shopping for a fixer

Shopping a fixer-upper house for sale may be challenging at first. Remember, these homes are typically not very attractive so you’ll need to learn how to look at them in a different light.

Forget trying to picture yourself living in the home now – picture instead what the home will be like when you’ve transformed it.

The most important aspect of fixer-upper shopping is to find a floor plan that most closely fits your needs without having to knock down too many walls.

While removing a non-load-bearing wall may cost between $2,000 and $3,000, ripping out a load-bearing wall costs $1,200 to $3,000 for a single-story home.

If the home you purchase has more than one story that price jumps to between $3,200 and $10,000, according to the folks at HomeAdvisor.com.

As you can see, the floor plan is key when looking at fixers.

Two professionals you simply must have on your side when shopping in the fixer market include a real estate agent to help you negotiate and a contractor, for obvious reasons.

Financing the fixer-upper

Once you decide on a home, unless you’ll be paying cash for it and for the rehab work you’ll need to get financing. Unlike in years past, today there are several attractive options.

Our favorite programs are the FHA 203(k) loan, the Freddie Mac Home Possible® mortgage and Fannie Mae’s HomeStyle® Renovation Mortgage. Although these programs have different qualification guidelines they all basically offer the same thing: They permit borrowers to wrap the rehab work into the financing for the home.

One loan covers both. With the FHA program you won’t need to start making mortgage payments until you actually move into the home.

This is a significant money and time saver. First, having just one loan means you’ll save on closing costs. With all three programs, the loan amount is typically based on the value of the property when the work is completed.

The process is complicated, we must warn you, but with the right contractor and real estate agent, buying a fixer-upper property may just be the best investment you’ve ever made.

 

Posted in Guam Home Buying
Jan. 6, 2022

3 types of insurance you’ll need when you buy your Guam home

If you’re like us, there are two subjects that make your eyes glaze over: taxes and insurance. Sure, we learned a lot about the latter with the introduction of the ACA (Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act). We are now somewhat familiar with premiums, deductions, co-pays and the like. But, that’s health insurance. When you buy a home, you’ll be required to buy certain policies of a different type and some you may want to consider, depending on region. Let’s start with the basics of mandatory insurance—those policies you may be required to purchase before you close on the home.

Title insurance

The home purchase transaction doesn’t involve just the buyer and seller. Other entities, such as the lender, have interests to protect as well. And financial protection is what insurance is all about in the homebuying process. When an offer is accepted, the lender begins the process of determining whether the home is worth what you’ve promised to pay, whether you qualify for a mortgage and whether there are any problems with the home’s title. These problems are known by several nicknames, such as “clouds on the title” or “title defects.” Is the homeowner who is selling you the home actually the owner and does he or she have a legal right to sell it? Is there anyone else who may have a claim, full or partial, to the property? The title search will also include learning if there are liens against the home, outstanding judgments and unpaid taxes, among other issues. The title officer will perform a search of public records to find the answers and then issue a report known as the abstract of title or preliminary title report. Anything of a negative nature that will affect the lender will be brought to the seller’s attention so that it can be remedied. The lender will not issue funds to you to purchase until this is done. If the title is clean, on the other hand, the lender will go ahead with the loan, but will expect a title insurance policy to be issued in case anything crops up in the future. This policy is known as a lender’s policy and it’s required. What about protecting your interests as the Buyer? There is a separate policy to protect the homeowner, which is optional. A good and knowledgeable real estate agent can advise you on whether or not to purchase this policy.

Private mortgage insurance

Homebuyers have a love-hate relationship with private mortgage insurance, or the mortgage insurance premium in the case of the FHA-backed loan. It’s an additional expense not only at closing, but every month for the life of the loan (in many cases). Without it, however, borrowers who can’t come up with a 20% down payment would be unable to purchase a home. Learn more about private mortgage insurance from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and you’ll find additional information about FHA’s mortgage insurance premium online at hud.gov.

Homeowners insurance

 

We’ve so far learned that title insurance protects the lender against future claims against the property, PMI (or MIP) protects them in case you default on the loan. What happens if the home burns down or experiences another calamity? This is where homeowners insurance enters the picture. The difference between this insurance and the two previously mentioned is that homeowners insurance also protects the homeowner. A standard policy is unlikely to cover the home for certain disasters, such as flood and earthquake. If the home is in a flood zone, however, you can purchase a separate insurance policy, under certain circumstances. “Flood insurance is available to anyone living in one of the 23,000 participating NFIP communities,” according to officials at FEMA.gov. NFIP is short for the National Flood Insurance Program. Government-backed loans typically require this insurance if you live in a flood zone. Yes, there is a lot to consider when purchasing a home. Do yourself a favor and consult with your insurance agent early in the process. He or she will help you determine which type of homeowners insurance is right for you and your lender. If you don't know an insurance agent, then work with a good realtor who knows different insurance agents from different insurance companies.

Posted in Guam Home Buying
Dec. 31, 2021

Many Guam First-Time Home Buyers Are Overlooking a Competitive Edge in 2022

Buying a house was challenging for many Guam buyers in 2021, but especially for first-time buyers. Competition and prices were high, and inventory was low, and while some predictions suggest things will loosen up a bit in 2022, buyers will still need to have an aggressive strategy heading into the new year.

According to this REALTOR Magazine article, first-time buyers are optimistic about their chances in 2022, and many are changing their strategies to increase their odds of success.
The most notable changes in strategy were:

  • Making an offer within 48 hours of seeing a home
  • Offering above asking price
  • Being willing to compete in bidding wars
  • Going over their budget
  • Making offers on houses without even seeing them first

Making offers quickly, being willing to go above asking and compete in bidding wars are all advisable strategies in this market.

Going over budget on the other hand…well, that depends. If “going over budget” means still within their comfortable financial means, sure! If not, it’s a recipe for future struggle and financial trouble.

And making offers on houses without seeing them in person first isn’t the worst thing to do given technology, but it isn’t ideal.

What wasn’t on the list, and would likely make the biggest impact for first-time buyers, was to choose and work with a great real estate agent. Working with a trusted buyers’ agent can enhance any of the above strategies, if not make them unnecessary. Their awareness of the market, perspective, advice, connections, and negotiation skills can often give first-time buyers an edge, yet many first-time buyers don’t put a lot of emphasis on choosing and working with one.

So, if you’re a first-time buyer looking to edge out competition in 2022, by all means be prepared to do everything on the list other buyers are planning on. But, to truly tip the scales in your favor, make sure you’re teaming up with a buyers’ agent you connect well with and trust.

Do your research.  Look into agent successes and past client reviews would be great start.  Then look at what helpful information they give about Guam home buying on their online platforms.

Posted in Guam Home Buying
July 31, 2017

Curious About Guam Real Estate?

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Curious about Guam real estate? So are we! Every month we review trends in our real estate market and consider the number of homes on the market in each price tier, the amount of time particular homes have been listed for sale, specific village trends, the median price and square footage of each home sold and so much more. We’d love to invite you to do the same!

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You can sign up here to receive your own market report, delivered as often as you like! It contains current information on pending, active and just sold properties so you can see actual homes in your village. You can review your area on a larger scale, as well, by refining your search to include properties in other parts of the island. As you notice price and size trends, please contact us for clarification or to have any questions answered.

We can definitely fill you in on details that are not listed on the report and help you determine the best home for you. If you are wondering if now is the time to sell, please try out our INSTANT home value tool. You’ll get an estimate on the value of your property in today’s market. Either way, we hope to hear from you soon as you get to know our neighborhoods and local real estate market better.