House Hunting in Indonesia: Modern Glass and Steel in the Jungles of Bali


This three-bedroom, contemporary-style villa, with elements of classical Indonesian architecture, is part of a small gated community situated among rice paddies in Mas, a village in the province of Bali, Indonesia’s main tourist destination.

Built in 2015, the 5,603-square-foot home, which sits on about a quarter of an acre near a creek, was designed by the German architect Alexis Dornier with steel and large glass panels surrounding three antique, hand-carved pavilionlike structures reclaimed from joglos, the traditional houses of the Javanese people.

mr. Dornier, who has designed many structures on Bali, intended the house’s skylights and floating glass mezzanine to highlight the three Javanese artifacts as “objets trouvés,” according to his website, enabling inhabitants to explore them from every angle like archaeologists.

The property consists of two buildings abutting a pool patio: a main structure of two stories with a mezzanine constructed around two of the Javanese pavilions, and a separate one-story building with a bedroom suite, originally designed around the third pavilion.

A renovation completed this year removed the bedroom suite’s Javanese pavilion and incorporated a large skylight with automated blinds, said Marc Hirte, a co-founder of Bali Real Estate Consultants, which has the listing. The renovation also substituted painted-plaster walls for much of the house’s original dark polished lava terrazzo, and replaced traditional wood shingles with more durable modern asphalt ones, he said.

Large traditional joglo doors open to the open-plan second story of the main building, where the two pavilions hover just below the ceiling skylights. One pavilion is suspended over the open kitchen; the other is over the living area, where a teal piano is showcased. The custom furniture is included in the asking price, Mr. Hirte said.

Ironwood and teak wood are found throughout the villa, including the reclaimed wood floors and “some wooden beams from a shipwreck of a Dutch vessel,” Mr. Hirte said.

The custom kitchen has a large island, teak cabinets and glass shelves. Floors are polished concrete tiles. Also on the second floor are a bathroom, pantry, storage and mechanical room. Stairs descend to the first floor, which has two bedrooms with bathrooms. The bedrooms open to a curved iron wood deck overlooking the creek and jungle.

From the second floor, a staircase ascends to a glass-and-steel “floating” mezzanine level, with a walkway and two sitting areas. The mezzanine opens to the pool deck, which consists of ceramic tiles and volcanic lava stone. The exaggerated eaves of the villas two buildings, which are connected by canvas, shelter much of the deck. The 41-by-10-foot pool is tiled in a type of quartzite called Bali green stone.

The separate building, with a bedroom suite and bathroom, is accessed from the deck. The property also has a large moss-covered brick pizza oven.

Jungle and gardens of palm trees, frangipani, aloe vera, papaya and jackfruit trees surround the villa, which is one of 10 homes in this gated community promoted as the brainchild of “visionaries, artists, musicians, surfers, yogis and socially conscious entrepreneurs. ” The community offers communal gardens, parking, security and maintenance services.

Mas, renowned for its traditional wood carvers, is about 12 miles north of Denpasar, Bali’s capital. Ubud, a collection of inland villages known for its spiritualists and expatriate artists, and which served as the setting for the 2006 best-selling book “Eat, Pray, Love,” is a few miles north. The closest airport is Ngurah Rai International Airport, about 20 miles southwest.

The Indonesian province of Bali, with roughly 4.3 million residents on a principal island and several smaller islands, has seen its real estate market rally through various international and regional crises in recent decades, but the global pandemic has been a blow, gutting tourism, particularly in areas like Ubud, local agents said.

Indonesia, the world’s 14th largest country by area, comprising more than 17,000 islands, has an incredibly diverse property market, with limited statistical data, agents said. One oft-used source, the Knight Frank Prime International Residential Index, showed a 1.2 percent dip in luxury residential prices for 2020 in Jakarta, Indonesia’s capital, on the island of Java, about 720 miles west of Bali.

“Truth be told, there’s a real lack of transparency and a deep lack of access to information that would show record-keeping,” said Jared Collins, a senior advisor and Bali property consultant at Ubud Homes. “But I can say it’s been on a two-year decline in terms of a customer base in this area.”

Ubud, an administrative district known as the center of Balinese art and culture, has developed rapidly in the past 15 years as an international destination, with spas and resorts for tourists, and multimillion-dollar homes for expatriates and investors. Much of that activity ground to a halt when travel restrictions were imposed in the spring of 2020, Mr. Collins said. According to the Central Statistics Bureau of Bali, only 45 international visitors entered the province during the first 10 months of 2021.

“It’s dire,” Mr. Collins said. “Something has to change, or the hotels are toast, and the restaurants are on life support.”

Indonesian buyers have been sustaining the housing market in the Ubud area, he said, while the few remaining foreign buyers have gravitated toward other parts of Bali, like Canggu, a beach area west of the capital, and Uluwatu, a surfing destination on the Bukit Peninsula, south of Denpasar.

Canggu and other southern communities were among the areas seeing annual home price increases of 20 to 30 percent or more before the pandemic, and they continue to thrive, though reliable data is sparse, said Amadeus Förster, a co-founder of Bali Real Estate Consultants .

“With no surprise, everyone who could afford relocating and working remotely would leave the cities, ie Jakarta, and trade the lockdown apartment life with an open Bali villa lifestyle,” he said. “Prices in the cities have decreased versus increasing prices in Bali.”

Terje H. Nilsen, the director of Seven Stones Indonesia, a company that handles market-entry services for expatriates, agreed that some areas of Bali have likely seen home prices increase. “Canggu and nearby Pererenan have seen prices go up, as these areas are where the largest expat community has been during Covid, as well as therefore attracting those coming in and local buyers as well,” he said.

mr. Nilsen said there have been price decreases in longterm leased properties, which are available to foreigners, versus freehold properties, which are largely limited to Indonesian buyers. And while areas like Canggu and Pererenan may have seen prices grow, home prices overall on Bali may have gone down between 10 to 20 percent. “There have been a few fire sales due to owners struggling financially, but most are waiting and expect Bali to recover V-shaped once we come out of Covid,” he said.

Currently, in desirable areas like Canggu, the sweet spot for homes is about $300,000 to $500,000, which can buy an attractive two- to four-bedroom villa, Mr. Nilsen said.

mr. Collins said the average client in Ubud wants to spend $100,000 to $300,000 for a home, which captures about 75 percent of the market. “You can’t really get a true Western-standard house in a nice area, maximum 10 to 12 minutes outside of Ubud center, for less than about $200,000, and then it goes all the way up to $2 million,” he said.

Foreigners live in many parts of Indonesia, including Jakarta and the islands of Flores and Lombok, which have grown increasingly popular. But Bali attracts the bulk of the nation’s tourism, which tends to drive the island’s housing market, agents said.

Before the pandemic, foreigners accounted for as many as half the transactions in Ubud, Mr. Nilsen said. Most were Australian, followed by British, French and other European buyers. The number of American buyers has continued to grow over the years, he said.

mr. Collins said he handles mostly American and Canadian buyers; Italian, German, French, Swedish and other European buyers; and Australian, Russian and Japanese buyers.

With a few exceptions, only Indonesian nationals are entitled to an outright land ownership title, known as Hak Milik, also referred to as “freehold.” However, foreign nationals do have some rights pertaining to property, including the right to use (Hak Pakai) and right to build (Hak Guna Bangunan), agents said.

There are two common legal land-use arrangements, Mr. Collins said. The first is done through notarial agreement between a private landowner and a foreigner, and typically involves a 20- to 30-year land lease. In the second, the land title is converted into a government-granted right to use, typically for a 70-year period. Both scenarios have provisions for renewals, Mr. Collins said.

He added that a lawyer is not necessary, as long as buyers have “a well-vetted agent and an Indonesian notary.”

The notary fee is usually about 1 percent of the transaction value, Mr. Nilsen said. For a freehold sale, he said, the government tax is 2.5 percent for the seller and 5 percent for the buyer, based on the property’s tax value.

For a leasehold transaction, the seller is responsible for a 10 percent government tax based on the transaction value, though in some cases the buyer and seller may split the tax, Mr. Collins said.

Foreigners cannot obtain a mortgage from Indonesian banks “unless they have had a working permit and visa for five consecutive years, residing in Indonesia,” Mr. Forster said.

Indonesian; Indonesian rupiah (1 rupiah = $0.00007)

Annual property taxes, which typically amount to about 0.5 percent of the estimated land value, are negligible on this property, Mr. Hirte said.

Marc Hirte, Bali Real Estate Consultants, 011-62-877-613-119-41, balirealestateconsultants.com

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