Guam - "Go Guam, Go Buy" - that's what experts are saying relative to the real estate market on Guam. And compared to about a decade ago, things have changed that make purchasing a home a real possibility here locally.

Because interest rates have dropped to historical lows and with good bargains available due to the real estate market on Guam being leveled, Community First Guam Federal Credit Union president and CEO Gerard Cruz says now is the best time to buy. "So there are a couple of good dynamics that make homeownership a real possibility for families that historically have not been able to benefit from homeownership," he offered.

Community First is a full-service financial institution whose flagship is real estate and home mortgages. Cruz says back in 2000, interest rates were around 8% which was considered pretty good at the time. It gradually dropped through the years and today for a 30-year mortgage, interest rates are hovering around 3.9% APR - something he would have never imagined. 

Guam Association of Realtors president and Remax Diamond Realty associate broker Liz Duenas agrees, saying now is the time to act. And having just attended a national realtors conference in Washington, DC, the focus is now on promoting homeownership - something she says shouldn't just be an American dream, but the Chamorro dream as well.

She stated, "When you own your own home, you create jobs as a result of it and it just promotes the economy, but I think most of all as a parent, I promote and tell my children to own your home, it's yours."

Both add that anybody who hasn't taken advantage of the low interest rates to refinance their homes as well is really missing out as it currently stands around 2.7%. Cruz says rates won't get any lower than now as it was less than a decade ago when the real estate market moved upward at an extremely fast pace which has since reached a plateau level on Guam. "It's actually worked out for the island and it helps the economy because what it does is prevent a bubble from happening," he explained.

He adds there are many things that drive interest rates, some of which are outside of anyone's control on Guam. But locally speaking, changes in the military buildup and the tourism industry could impact the momentum in our economy creating less than stellar rates.  Duenas adds that GAR's date of multiple listing services shows an increase in sales of properties over the last year, which is a good sign relative to the market stateside.

Duenas said, "In some areas, there are a lot of foreclosures, short sales, the economy has dropped, people are losing their jobs. Guam hasn't reached that stage in comparison to some states."

And as buying a home is probably one of the biggest investments a person will make in life, both Cruz and Duenas recommend seeking proper guidance from respective experts on the island.

"So we think that the smart first step is to walk into a financial institution hopefully ours and sit down with one of our mortgage reps and qualify for an amount and then from there, walk into a real estate office," she continued. Cruz added, "We can assist in finding that right property based on your budget and requirements, where you want to live, etc. So realtors are here to help."

Duenas adds that the more than 400 realtors make up GAR who can help take potential homebuyers through the process. She recommends attending workshops on Guam that offer insight of the process of purchasing a home, loans available and ultimately what people can take advantage of. In fact, on June 19 and 20, the annual Guam Affordable Housing Symposium will be held at the Hyatt Regency Guam, along with the Guam Housing Expo set for June 23 at the FD Phoenix Center.