Following the ruckus between Realtors and appraisers on Guam and the housing office at Naval Forces Marianas a number of developments have taken place.

On Dec.16 five members of the real estate industry — board members of the newly formed Military Liaison Committee of the Guam Association of Realtors — met with David Matthews housing officer at Naval Forces Marianas.

Monty A. McDowell president and chief executive officer and principal broker of Advance Management Inc. and incoming chairman of the Guam Chamber of Commerce for 2005 is outgoing chairman of committee handing the reins to Christopher K. Felix president and principal broker of Century 21 Realty Management Co.

Other board members attending were Anthony R. Godwin president and principal broker for Today’s Realty and president of the Guam Association of Realtors; Julie M. Paxton associate broker for BHI Realty and acting executive officer of the Guam Association of Realtors; and Bruce Dinsman licensed appraiser and owner of Pacific Island Appraisals.

Felix said the meeting with Matthews was very positive.

"The vast majority of the discussion was us relaying to him our problems and him relaying the problems from his side. We tried to work out some of the problems with appraisals. He [Matthews] said he’d have to go back to legal. He heard what we had to say and that’s very important to us. Now we’ll work on some sort of equitable solution. We’ll get to the nuts and bolts in January and February."

Meanwhile a group of homeowners that have spent considerable money on appraisals required by the Navy in hopes of renting their properties are moving forward with possible legal action.

Henry M. Simpson general manager of the Guam Racing Federation is a homeowner and real estate investor who told the Journal he was “burned” by the Navy housing office and is looking at the posibility of seeking legal assistance with other landlord out of what he called “sheer frustration.”

“This process of paying for appraisals and having them disregarded at will by the [Navy] housing office has gone on long enough ” Simpson said. “I am getting together with others who have been silent long enough and we will see what we can do as a group. This climate of fear and intimidation has got to stop.”

Simpson’s rental unit was independently appraised at $2 850 but Navy housing officials would only authorize his prospective tenants $2 000 a month in off-base overseas housing allowances compensation although the allotment was much higher.

The Guam Region Private Rental Housing Policy of the Department of the Navy dated June 17 states “It is incumbent upon landlords and/or real estate personnel to support requested rental amounts when the housing office cannot validate using comparable listings.”

Simpson said “I don’t think the housing office is being fair when it comes to what it calls comparable listings because each home in a different area differs so much.”

However in at least one recent case the appraisal was not made mandatory. A real estate agent who contacted the Journal but declined to go on record for fear of reprisals said in at least one situation an appraisal was not required for a property that was recently leased. The realtor said “The housing office asked if the owner of the property would accept an appraisal paid for by the Navy if one was needed but in this case one was not needed. When the housing counselor saw the size and quality of the rental they were happy with the price.”

The realtor said “I feel that what Navy Housing is doing is a disservice to the military tenants as well as local homeowners. In the past the military have been encouraged to support the local economy: eat out at local restaurants; purchase from stores off-base; stay at the hotels; etc. Ironically now the military is turning around and telling homeowners that they are not going to receive the money asked for their houses. So are the military supposed to support the local economy or not? In the past owners have graciously lowered their rental amount to an amount that falls below their mortgage payment amount just because a service member’s allowance was lower than the price originally asked for. Now some of those owners still have to receive a lower amount than their mortgage because military housing can’t see that raising the rent is justified when they were doing a favor to the military/government in the first place.”

Joaquin P. Perez Guam district office manager for Madeleine Z. Bordallo Guam’s delegate to Congress told the Journal “I can say that homeowners and real estate people met with the congresswoman earlier this year and a letter was sent to the admiral expressing concern. The recent meeting between the Realtors and the Navy Housing office may be in response to that. I know she is very concerned.”

A number of Guam residents have been contacted in recent weeks by an off-island firm asking about housing conditions and rental rates. The Journal asked the Navy Public Affairs office if it had any comment on the survey but was told “We have no further comment on this situation at this time.” MBJ