Bali is undoubtedly a paradise for domestic and international tourists to visit, and in many cases it can become a new home.
Over the years, many people have made the move to live on the Island of the Gods, as opposed to major cities in their home countries. Terje Nilsen is one of the few Scandinavian men who has found ways to optimise life in Bali and relishes its booming property market. As the director and driving force behind Seven Stones Indonesia, Terje shared with Indonesia Expat how Seven Stones Indonesia impacts people’s lives for the better, along with assisting anyone who wishes to work and live in paradise.
Can you tell us a bit about Seven Stones Indonesia as a business?
Seven Stones came to be for several reasons. A few friends thought it was time for something new, smart, and with a high level of integrity. We believe the traditional way of dealing in real estate is coming to an end and therefore, we offer a broader spectrum of services. We believe in a long-term relationship with our clients rather than a one-off deal. Today, we offer services such as market entry services, legal services and advice, branding and marketing, as well as general investment advice. We spend more time with our customers creating tailored made and best possible structural setups, which we commonly refer to as road maps.
When did you open your business and how has it been performing since then?
Seven Stones was launched in April 2016 and has performed well since then, even though the market has been a bit slower considering the many changes and regulations coming from the current government. Our added services have also increased our general client base and somewhat changed the typical clients to be more corporate and high-end individuals.
How many staff members do you have and how is the business structured?
Our team has around 20 people and is growing, with teams based in Jakarta, Lombok, and soon Flores too.
Tell us about the property market in Bali. Prices have been steady for a few years now. How do you see the future?
Sometimes it’s difficult to make predictions about Bali as it’s still a mixture of the island, the rest of Indonesia, and expats’ mindset. The market went up, up and away for many years but since 2014, it has been easier to predict. Certain areas like Canggu, Bukit, and parts of Ubud have kept going because the overall demand is or has been there.
Adjustments will come amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. We also know that for certain parts of Bali, in particular Badung, more areas will open up for development and a lot more land will become available. I do believe that land and property prices will see an adjustment because of this and that is generally good for the market, as the tendency towards heavily inflated prices is present.
Are there any laws in place in Bali to curb property development?
I’m not sure if it’s realistic to curb developments. The central government seems to drive Bali forward as a place to start the journey and transit into other areas. This may slow down a bit for now, though. A new zoning map and firmer regulations were just signed off on a ministerial level, and the provincial level is coming down now to each regency. We do hope this will be enforced and it’s supposed to stay in place for the next 20 years before a new revision takes place.
In many foreign countries, land or property can be purchased by tourists or expatriates. Do you think that expatriates or overseas customers will ever be able to legally own property here in Indonesia? How do your non-Indonesian customers purchase properties now?
I actually do argue that expats can own properties in Indonesia through various titles that can, at any time, be converted back to freehold if an expat sells to an Indonesian. So to me and most of the legal advisors, it becomes primary ownership that also many Indonesians hold. More and more expats now purchase through a company, even lease, and this has a lot of benefits in the sense that you can sponsor your stay permit, as well as tax benefits. Moving forward, I hope the government allows individuals to purchase directly with their name without needing a company, at least for residential purposes.
What’s the most expensive property you’ve ever sold? How much did it go for?
We’ve sold a few hotels. I’d rather not discuss the prices.
Do you plan to expand to areas outside of Bali?
We are currently aiming at a presence in Jakarta, Lombok, and Flores. We are also launching representative offices in the UK and Norway.
Have you noticed any trends in the development of and interest in sustainable housing, such as houses made of bamboo or houses with solar panels and rainwater systems already in place?
We do see a trend towards more eco-friendly developments and requests, such as water collection, solar panels, etc. As a result of COVID-19, I believe we will see a surge in boutique concepts and villas with privacy. In addition to digital nomads, we see a lot of people now wanting to work from home, choosing to make Bali their future home, as well as other areas such as Flores and Lombok.
What do you think the future has in store for the property industry in Bali?
It’s a difficult time to predict, but we know Bali has a high level of loyal customers calling Bali their home. I think we will see a change towards more long-stay tourism; more people wanting to live and work from here, and continued demand for eco-friendly or nature-based concepts with a high level of self-sustainability.
What is it about the property industry that you love so much?
We at Seven Stones like to impact people’s lives for the better; a lifestyle change with a better quality of life is exciting as well as the right structures to help people doing the right investment most suitable for them.
Thank you, Terje! Hope you’re staying safe and healthy.
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