Real estate sales down more than 80% since pandemic’s start

Posted on Aug 23 2021
Shakir’s Realty & Insurance

Some of the properties in the portfolio of Shakir’s Realty & Insurance. (Contributed photo)

The tourism industry is not the only sector of the economy feeling the brunt of the COVID-19 pandemic, with the real estate industry also falling on tough times, according to the president of one of the oldest and most trusted real estate companies in the CNMI.

“Since COVID-19 set in early March 2020 and suspension of tourist flights, real estate sales on Saipan have plummeted by more than 80%,” said Shakir’s Realty & Insurance president and principal broker Mustafa Shakir.

He said the islands are currently surviving due to federal aid, but he predicts things will get worse before things get better. “Real estate sales or interest will take at least two to five years to recover,” he said.

Shakir explained that Saipan is unlike the U.S. mainland or Guam where cheap financing is easily available.

“Property prices there are at all-time high but it’s mostly borrowed money and people have to be cautious once interest rates start going up, as a market correction is imminent. Saipan will not be affected as much due since lending is limited by banks here and most investors and business owners have brought in money from their home countries or other sources,” he said.

Mustafa Shakir

Mustafa Shakir

He said COVID-19 has definitely affected every business on island, especially those related to tourism like Shakir’s Realty & Insurance.

“We are surviving due to our repeat customers, reputation, and our way of negotiating a win-win situation for our sellers and buyers. The prices of properties are still holding up and there are no good deals available or panic selling yet. Overall, prices are down by just 15%-20%. That will change as time goes by due to worsening COVID-19 situation in Asia, our primary market, and around the world,” said Shakir.

Shakir’s Realty & Insurance was established in July 20, 1993, as a subsidiary under Shakir’s CNMI Inc.

The company’s primary goal is to provide service to local customers and off-island investors, mostly Koreans, during that period of time to find land, commercial, and residential properties for investment.  Over time, Shakir’s CNMI Inc.’s real estate division developed into a full-fledged one-stop service center to connect new investors from South Korea, Russia, and China with proper legal guidance through attorneys to set up companies.

“We inform them about the benefits of investing in the CNMI, connect them with local banks to provide financing options, insurance services, and guide them to realize their investment goals. This is the primary difference between us and other real estate companies,” said Shakir.

Shakir’s Realty & Insurance also offers houses for first-time home buyers to work within their budget and to vacation home buyers from various countries who come during holidays to relax and enjoy the CNMI with their families, a lot of whom have fallen in love and made Saipan their permanent home. It also has commercial properties, rental units, lands, and hotels for sale or lease and also do residential and commercial rentals.

Shakir’s Realty & Insurance

Some of the properties in the portfolio of Shakir’s Realty & Insurance. (Contributed photo)

“It is very important to have an experienced licensed real estate agent by your side to get you the best deals and who is able to understand your needs. We are in this business for more than 27 years and we thank and owe our local friends and loyal customers for their continuous support,” said Shakir.

On the issue of Article 12, Shakir’s stand is to keep the status quo. “Majority of the local people feel that way and I respect that. The government should instead look at extending the lease term from 55 years to 75 years [and] that will help stimulate the local economy and give more confidence to investors to invest in the CNMI,” he said.

Shakir’s Realty & Insurance’s office has been closed since March 2020 due to COVID-19, but it will be relocating to Garapan once a suitable space is found. Currently, they are available by phone at (670) 483-8283 and also on social media like Facebook, Instagram where they are assisting all their existing and new customers with their inquiries and needs.

Mark Rabago | Associate Editor
Mark Rabago is the Associate Editor of Saipan Tribune. Contact him at
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