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Abandoned homes in Guam create blight

April 7, 2014

HAGATNA, Guam (AP) — Scores of abandoned homes across Guam are affecting the quality of life for neighbors and decreasing property values of nearby homes, with the ownership of many structures unknown.

There are about 300 abandoned homes in Dededo alone by Mayor Melissa Savares’ count. The empty houses can become illegal dumping grounds or homes to squatters, she said.

Many of the abandoned concrete homes on the island belonged to families who bought them in the 1950s through the 1970s after typhoons destroyed wood-and-tin homes, Pacific Daily News reported (http://is.gd/99Tkf8 ). Now, members of that generation are dying, with many not leaving wills. In some cases, heirs have moved off the island and can’t take care of the homes anymore.

Mangilao Mayor Nito Blas said he has been asked by prospective buyers whether abandoned homes in his village are for sale.

He says the problem is he doesn’t know who owns many of the homes anymore. The University of Guam, for example, asked for his help in renovating a derelict, empty home next to the campus.

“I’ve been trying to find out who (the owner) gave authorization to handle this,” Blas said.

Even if a homeowner left a will, relatives still need to file probate with courts.

If a homeowner did not leave a will, the probate process could be expensive. If conflicts arise among those interested in a property, usually family members, the process could take years before a court decides.

Sinajana Mayor Robert Hofman said the probate process can cost thousands of dollars that some families cannot afford. He said for families struggling with the issue of property ownership, the only solution is to decrease the cost of resolving issues.

“Make the legal process cheaper,” he said.

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