Editor’s Note: Anthony R. Godwin is the principal broker of Today’s Realty. He arrived on Guam with his parents at seven years of age in August 1968.
He has 30 years of experience in real estate, and previously was involved in the establishment and growth of a computer business that introduced computer technology to many organizations and the Government of Guam.
Godwin is a director of the Guam Association of Realtors and has previously served six terms as president. He has worked on numerous committees of GAR and was instrumental in spearheading the adoption of multiple technologies and systems that are still in use today: the Flex Multiple Listing Service, Electronic Property Access Systems, Electronic Forms Management, Financial Management and Online Real Estate Education opportunities. Godwin has served on the on the boards of several home-owners associations; Today’s Realty is a member of the Guam Chamber of Commerce, the Chinese Chamber of Commerce of Guam and other civic organizations.
Alexandria “Sandy” G. Yow is a realtor at Today’s Realty. She has 30 years of experience in real estate and was previously a journalist. She attended San Francisco State University, the University of Hawaii and the University of Guam. Yow has served as vice president, secretary, and board member of Guam Association of Realtors and on various committees and sub-committees.
Yow’s recognitions include a 1980 listing in Who’s Who in American Schools and Colleges, a 1983 award by the Micronesian Society of Professional Journalists as Best Investigative Reporter for a KUAM TV 8 news series, and 1998 GAR Realtor of the Year. She served on the University of Guam Board of Regents from 2002 to 2008 and was a board member of the Mercy Action Marianas Ltd. from 2010 to 2016.
Godwin and Yow collaborated on this article.
Q: Is there anything that compares with the closure of the real estate industry due to COVID-19 — such as past economic downturns in Guam?
A: No. During the past economic downturns we were able to continue physical real estate activities — such as showing properties, move-ins and move-outs, property inspections and other activities where our presence was needed at the property — as those downturns were not a matter of public health.
From March 20 to May 10 we were able to continue working with clients and customers using the various virtual tools available to us, such as email, WhatsApp, our websites, electronic forms, electronic signatures, virtual meet-ups (such as Zoom and WebEx). We were actually using all of this technology before the real estate industry was allowed to do business under COR02, so the transition was quite smooth. However, this is definitely not the same as being able to physically visit the property.
Q: Have the majority of realtors taken advantage of federal programs such as the Paycheck Protection Plan?
A: We know of several that have availed of the Payroll Protection Program, as well as the Economic Injury Disaster Loan.
Q: Has the demand resumed for residential sales, rentals and land — either for investors or for people who want to move for a variety of reasons?
A: Prior to the March 20 shutdown, Guam’s real estate market was already experiencing a reduced level of inventory and prices were holding fairly steady. In speaking with several agents, we believe that activity continues at a pace similar to that prior to March 20. We will have a better assessment of the market in about a month or two, once things have settled. There are certainly those in the marketplace that believe we will see some adjustment in demand and pricing.
Q: Is the military market active at all?
A: Yes, we are still seeing movement in the military market and expect this to increase significantly after June 30, when the military travel ban is due to be lifted by the U.S. Department of Defense
Q: Guam has a significant number of strip malls and freestanding buildings with commercial businesses as tenants. In general, have landlords been sympathetic and assisted tenants, as the majority of malls have done with retail and restaurant businesses?
A: Yes, we have seen some landlords make concessions of varying degrees. We have also seen some tenants receive Payroll Protection Program funds, a portion of which can be applied to rent.
Q: Are landlords finding that tenants have problems paying for rent?
A: Yes. There are tenants that have lost their jobs, or had hours reduced, that are having challenges paying rent.
Q: Is Sen. Clynt Ridgell’s Bill 355 to assist tenants a solution, or does it create further problems, since it seeks to involve financial institutions through legislation in deferring the mortgage payments of landlords?
A: Everyone needs an advocate and we believe at the end of the day there will be a balanced solution for all. In addition to mortgage payments, landlords have other responsibilities to take care of in maintaining property — trash, power bills, property taxes, water bills, property maintenance, repairs and management fees. A large part of the rent that tenants pay are programmed towards many of these costs. Additionally, some landlords have private, non-bank financing obligations. At the end of the day, a balanced solution should be considered for all.
Q: Is the commercial sector likely to remain more depressed than the residential sector, or do each of them face challenges?
A: Both will face challenges. We believe short term we will see more challenges in the commercial sector, as many have concerns about venturing out too far from their comfort zone. This has been observed in other places that have opened for business. Guam is no different. We do believe eventually this will change, but it will not be the ‘old’ normal, it will be the ‘new’ normal. Generally, we believe people are more aware of their surroundings and will continue to expect greater care and attention to detail that others are taking in order to protect them from illness.
Q: Is real estate still a viable career on Guam, or has the market become crowded?
A: It is most definitely a viable career and never too crowded. There is always an opportunity for a hard-working, ethical, sincere, get it done, let’s-get-you-into-your-own-home type. We are thrilled to work with a team like that at Today’s Realty, we might add.
Q: What is the attraction of the profession for you?
A: We love it when a first-time home buyer receives their set of keys. The satisfaction that we just helped to change multiple lives: for the buyer, the seller, the agents, the banker, the title company, the furniture store, GPA, GWA, the surveyor, the inspector, the advertising agencies and media, the government and the many, many others involved in a real estate transaction. One real estate transaction truly does impact the economy on so many levels. mbj