Buying Property in Bali: The Ultimate Guide

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Bali is the to-go resort islands for many Australians and other Westerners that decide to either travel or buy real estate in Asia. You’ll also find many locals and Asians that invest in property here.

Saying that the Bali property market has performed well the past decade is an understatement.

Yet, it’s important to keep in mind that Indonesia is notorious for having some of the most tricky and most unfavourable foreign property ownership regulations.

Not to forget, is now the right time to buy or is the market at its peak?

What you’ll learn in this article

Bali’s property market

Bali receives a big chunk of foreign investors which has driven up Bali property prices, well, a lot. And especially during the past 10-15 years. In fact, Bali’s property market has been one of the best performers in Asia.

Just look at these facts:

  • Luxury property prices have increased 15% year-to-year
  • Prices for vacant land have increased some of the most in the whole world

Naturally, this has resulted in a stagnation in property prices. After years of a continuous uptrend, the market has finally started to cool down.

Some other outspoken reasons why the market has stagnated are:

buying-property-bali

  • Problems with local infrastructure, like lack of clean water
  • Oversupply of property, due to lack of property regulations and zoning

Foreign property ownership regulations in Bali

Bali is different compared to many other places in Indonesia, both culturally and demographically.

With many foreigners going to Bali for vacation or to reside there, a common question is whether regulations to foreign ownership are different compared to the national standards.

Unfortunately, regulations don’t differ much, except for the limit on the height of buildings that can be constructed, which is only a disadvantage.

Normally, a building can’t be taller than 3-4 levels (15 meters). Interestingly, one of the tallest buildings, Grand Bali Beach Hotel, was built in the 60’s and reach 10 floors, as it managed to avoid the new regulations.

Buying property with a freehold title (Hak Milik)

Despite being more risky, most foreigners want to buy property with a freehold title. It’s not strange, as this gives you full ownership, a feeling of more freedom, and often higher price appreciations.

But there are some risks involved too.

As explained in my separate guide about buying property in Indonesia, foreigners can’t buy and directly own freehold property. This is against Indonesian laws, some of the most stringent in Asia.

Still, there are ways for you to buy and indirectly control freehold property, might it be through local contractual setups.

In that case you need to use an Indonesian corporation or individual (a so called nominee, or representative) as the owner of the title.

The risk here is that you’re not really the owner of the property, in a worst case scenario, your nominee can get full rights of it.

The pros of buying freehold, on the other hand, is that you often experience a higher price appreciation (capital gain) as freehold property is in high demand, and will always be attractive.

A leasehold property will lose its attractiveness the closer you get to the expiry date.

Buying property with a leasehold title (Hak Sewa)

Going for a leasehold property means that you won’t need to put up that much money, but you’ll have more limitations in the usage of the property.

Also, the value of the physical structure won’t increase as much as the freehold ditto, that is in a bigger demand among foreigners and locals.

You’ll also miss out on the price appreciation of the land itself, of course, something that owners of freehold property can enjoy.

Buying property with a Right-to-use title (Hak Pakai)

Hak Pakai is a Right-to-use title and can be obtained from a person who owns the Hak Milik. The lease term is set to 25 years and can be renewed for a maximum period of 70 years.

In order to obtain a Hak Pakai as an indivdual (not a company), you need to reside in Indonesia, or have Indonesia as your domicile. This brings a requirement to apply for a KITAP (permanent stay permit) or a KITAS (temporary/limited stay permit).

Thus, setting a PMA company is the preferred choice, in case you’re not an Indonesian citizen or have Indonesia as your domicile.

Hak Pakai is a strong title that allows you to sell and transfer the title to another person, who’s eligible to own the title in Indonesia.

Buying property with a Right-to-build title (Hak Guna Bangunan)

Hak Guna Bangunan, often abbreviated as HGB, is only available to Indonesian citizens – or companies that are incorporated under Indonesian laws.

This includes PMA companies that falls under the category ‘foreign direct investment’.

HGB’s are valid for a period of 30 years, but can be extended with an additional 20 years, and later with 30 years.

What are the main differences between Hak Guna Bangunan and Hak Pakai?
  • You can get a Hak Pakai title as an individual, but Hak Guna Bangunan requires that you open a PMA company
  • You can’t use the Hakai Pakai title as a mortgage, which is possible with a Hak Guna Bangunan title

What is the best way to buy property in Bali?

safest-way-buy-bali-property

The safest option when buying property in Bali is to first set up a PMA (Penanaman Model Asing) company. You can then acquire any of the following titles:

  • Hak Pakai (HP): Right-to-use title
  • Hak Guna Bangunan (HGB): Right-to-build title

I’ve excluded the Hak Milik, as you’ll need an Indonesian nominee for this option, which is highly risky. It’s not rare that foreigners have lost their properties when using a local person to hold their property titles for them.

Even if the PMA incorporation process can take some time, and requires a business plan and operational activities in Indonesia, it’s the safest bet.

Getting a right-to-use title (Hak Pakai) is possible without a PMA, but requires that you have Indonesia as your domicile.

In case you decide to go for a HGB, keep in mind that you can only build your house in dedicated zones, excluding agricultural land, for example.

Buying property with a PMA vs using an Indonesia Nominee

Below you’ll see some of the clear benefits of using a PMA company instead of a local nominee to hold your title.

  • You get full freehold ownership if using a PMA, which is not the case with a nominee structure
  • With a PMA, you’ll be protected by internationally recognized contracts (commonwealth law)
  • BKPM (the Indonesian Investment Coordinating Board) will regulate, check, and audit the entity
  • Verifiable tax number (NPWP)
  • Dispute resolution in international court is possible

Where should I buy property in Bali?

Choosing a location requires some thorough overview. Some areas can be flooded with tourists and more expensive, at the same time as you’ll find more calm areas, with higher growth potentials.

Below, I’ve listed some of the most popular places where foreigners tend to buy property in Bali.

Buying property in Sanur

Located along a 5 km long coastline at the Southeast parts of Bali, Sanur is a bit overlooked and more relaxed compared to other areas.

You’ll find many restaurants, bars and meet more locals as the streets are not overcrowded by foreign tourists.

The price of a 3 bedroom freehold villa usually starts at USD 400,000 and continue upwards.

Buying property in Canggu

With a coastline that’s twice as long as Sanur’s, Canggu is located in the Southern parts of Bali. It’s one of the most popular places for property buyers and travellers.

Similar to Sanur, Canggu is fairly relaxed with many cafes, it’s also popular among surfers.
With a beautiful landscape with rice paddies, many foreign expats decide to buy villas here.

The price of a 3 bedroom freehold villa starts at around USD 750,000.

Buying property in Ubud

Ubud is one of the oldest areas in Bali that becomes increasingly popular. It’s located in the mountains, where the weather is cooler. You’ll find temples and

It’s famous for having a relaxed lifestyle, but also an abundant local culture with many arts.

The price of a 3 bedroom freehold villa usually starts at USD 250,000-300,000.

Buying property in Kuta

Kuta beach is probably the most popular area for resort travellers, especially among Australians. It’s located in the Western parts of Bali and a stone’s throw away from Ngurah Rai international airport.

If you go to Kuta, you’ll find everything from shopping, bars and many restaurants.

A 3 bedroom freehold villa usually starts at USD 300,000.

Buying property in Seminyak

Seminyak is located a bit north of Kuta and the place to be if you have deeper pockets. Previously an undeveloped and sleepy area, it’s now the most upscale area in Bali.

Seminyak is more relaxed compared to Kuta, you’ll find less surfers in this area.
The price of a 3 bedroom freehold villa usually starts at around USD 500,000.

Real estate agents in Bali

Being one of the most popular resorts for travellers in the world, it’s not strange that Bali has many real estate agencies to choose between.

Some of the most popular real estate agencies include:

  • Ray White Property Group
  • PPBali
  • Sevenstonesindonesia
  • Villabalisale

Real estate commissions usually land at 5%.

Conclusion

Bali is one of the most visited resort islands in the world and attract tons of visitors from worldwide.

Foreigners can’t own freehold property, but some still decide to indirectly own freehold property through local contractual setups. You should keep in mind that you won’t be protected if you decide to go for this option.

Prices have increased much the past 10-15 years, especially in the luxury segment and for vacant land. Due to hefty increases, the prices have stagnated.

Some of the most popular areas to buy property in Bali include: Sanur, Uduk, Canggu, Kuta and Seminyak, all offering different lifestyles.

If you want to know more about buying property in Bali, I recommend you to read the complete article.

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