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The dream of homeownership remains out of reach for many Guamanians



 By Mar-Vic Cagurangan


Government housing loan programs may be available but the dream of owning a home remains a dream for many Guamanians amid challenging market conditions.

 

According to the Office of the Public Auditor, the Guam Housing Corp.’s loan portfolio slightly increased from $24.2 million in fiscal 2022 to $24.3 million in fiscal 2023.


However, OPA said borrowers trying to purchase homes face stumbling blocks due to the lack of inventory available in the low-to-moderate price range.

 

For those seeking to build, Guam’s acute labor shortage poses an impediment.

 

OPA said several borrowers were unable to secure contractors who can offer affordable home construction "largely due to the limited availability of local and skilled construction labor."

 

The administration’s economic outlook for 2025 highlighted the ambiguities in Guam’s real estate statistics.

   

Citing figures provided by Cornerstone Valuation Guam, government economists noted that real estate sales volume increased by 17.7 percent from the fourth quarter of 2022 to the fourth quarter of 2023, while the number of transactions declined by 18.7.

 

“The sales changes can be attributed to rising prices and dramatic interest rate increases making housing purchases unaffordable for most residents,” the administration’s report said.


“While the number of sales declined, the prices continued to rise at a slower pace due to pent-up demand and limited inventory,” it added.

 

OPA’s report indicated lukewarm enthusiasm among loan seekers.

 

Of the 129 applicants interviewed by GMH in 2023, only 13 completed the process.

 

“Of the 13 applications, nine were approved and closed: one loan totaling $75,000 under the direct loan program for a home renovation, four loans totaling $1.3 million under the 6 percent loan program, and four loans totaling $160,000 under the Community Affordable Housing Action Trust loan program in FY2023,” OPA said.


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GHC provides mortgage loans to qualified applicants who have been denied financing from conventional financial institutions for the construction or purchase of their new homes, hence assuming higher lending risks.

 

OPA said the increase in interest rates for mortgage loans at the banks led to a decline in payments.

 

“Although principal disbursements decreased from $2.4 million in FY2022 to $1.6 million in FY2023, payoffs decreased from 30 loans totaling $1.6 million in FY 2022 to 20 loans totaling $530,000 in FY2023,” OPA said.

 

Amid the challenges, OPA said the agency has set several goals to complete this year based on its ability to secure lending capital at affordable rates.

 

GHC plans to issue the invitation-for-bid and award a contract for phase II of the Lada Gardens renovation project, which will be a $1.5 million grant from the American Rescue Plan.

 

Phase I of the renovation project was completed in March 2023, generating an additional $151,000 rental income for GHC, subsequently raising its revenue from this source from $822,000 in fiscal 2022 to $973,000 in fiscal 2023, according to OPA.

 

GHC hopes to secure funds from the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s mitigation program to finance the installation of typhoon shutters for the Lada Gardens housing units.

 

A request-for-interest will soon be issued for the development of nine lots owned by the Chamorro Land Trust Commission using affordable housing systems.

 

To address the growing homeless problem on Guam, GHC is working with the Governor’s Interagency Council on Homelessness “to help develop and implement strategies and programs for a coordinated and effective response.”

Sabina Perez

At the Guam legislature, Sen. Sabina Perez is seeking to leverage the Section 30 windfall to augment GHC’s capacity to expand its programs that offer affordable housing solutions.


Perez on Wednesday introduced a bill that would appropriate $1 million to the GHC’s housing trust fund to "serve as seed capital for authorized housing programs."


“Bill 309-37 comes following a substantial increase in revenues and a projected increase of $4 million in Section 30 over FY2024, providing additional funding for families seeking homeownership or other assistance and mitigates long-standing issues with Guam’s housing sector, including the rising costs of construction materials, skilled labor shortages and an increasingly competitive market that often overlooks the needs of low- to moderate-income families,” states a press release from the senator’s office.


“This approach highlights the bill’s dedication to tackling economic disparities in housing, enhancing community welfare, and providing tangible solutions to ongoing challenges in Guam's housing market,” Perez said.






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