By Troy Torres
(Tumon, Guam) For years, Janine Guevara sold real estate under the Landmark Realty banner. Ms. Guevara's husband, Joseph Guevara, was the government official who would approve the inspections and permits of developments that would be listed, marketed, and sold exclusively by his wife.
They made a fortune from the scam. This happened for years. Landmark even advertises it on their website.
It wasn't until October 2019, under the new leadership of Vince Arriola as the director of Public Works (Mr. Guevara's superior), that an investigation started into the Guevaras's misconduct. Mr. Guevara resigned from the government in December 2019, according to Mr. Arriola.
"It is not clear that contractors involved with Mr. Guevara were complicit with his activities," Mr. Arriola said. "It is possible that they were simply victims."
Mr. Arriola was responding to follow-up questions from Kandit about the contractors involved in the developments of the properties he would approve for development, then his wife would sell.
"Other real estate agents would ask these Chinese developers if they could market and list their properties and these poor guys would tell us, 'no, I'm sorry, but Joe said we have to give it to his wife,'" one broker told Kandit today on condition of anonymity. "It's more than just Joe. If any of them find out I'm saying anything about this, they'll (government regulators) retaliate against me. But a lot of the brokers know this."
"They have been doing this for years," the broker said, referring to the Guevara racket.
The Guevaras had some help, though. Ms. Guevara's brokerage firm, Landmark Realty, proudly advertises the political connections Ms. Guevara's association brought to their operation.
The company directly markets its competitive advantage (in violation of the Anti Trust Law of Guam), not to homebuyers, but to developers who would need to navigate DPW's exhaustive regulatory bureaucracy - a bureaucracy that for years ended with the signature of Landmark's agent's husband. The opening lines of its website for services state:
"Landmark Realty Group provides coordinated developer/agency services that leverage local market intelligence and established relationships to achieve maximum occupancy levels for client properties and to quickly secure buyers for developers or individual home sellers. We provide market exposure for the property, build the developer's image, and create a marketing strategy that attracts and retains quality buyers."
(IMPORTANT NOTE: The process for development does not only include DPW processes; processes through the Department of Land Management also are required. We will present this part of the story in a later article, and the corruption involved from that agency, in a later article)
Landmark marketed directly to developers
"Landmark Realty Group specializes in helping companies to maximize the value of their real estate development and to align development and marketing strategies to better match their overall business goals.
"We can assist the client in analyzing their entire development. We have helped clients decide what real estate assets they need to support their businesses or meet their investment goals, how best to structure their portfolios, execute any necessary transactions, and manage the assets themselves."
"Landmark Realty Group is one of many real estate brokerage operations and has earned its reputation in real estate transactions by arranging the sale, purchase or lease of office, industrial, multi housing, retail and hospitality sites, and commercial land."
Landmark sold itself to developers for the value of its relationship with the Guevaras
"Our superior research capabilities support these efforts by providing market surveillance that assures first-hand knowledge of - and insights into - market activities that may affect property in the present and future. Our qualified professionals combine this knowledge and real-time market intelligence with smart negotiation skills." (emphasis added)
Landmark Realty Group is owned by Bobby Sachdev. Kandit reached out to him today, but he has not responded to our calls for comment.
Meanwhile, in an interview with the Pacific Daily News's Guam Home Finder August 2010 edition, Ms. Guevara was asked "What is it about you as a Realtor that makes you unique when compared to other Realtors?"
"Well, I’m very optimistic. I don’t ever look at the market and think, 'There isn’t enough out there for all the Realtors on Guam.” I have a strong faith in God, and believe in the fact that I will be blessed with whatever it is He wants me to be blessed with."
"That wasn't the hand of God," a real estate agent said. "That was her husband's hand with a pen in it signing all the permits they needed to get rich."