Indonesia is one of Asia’s current property jewels. Despite foreign nationals being prohibited from purchasing freehold property outright, Jakarta is booming on the back of increased industry and economics that are underpinned by the growing middle class, and sunny holiday locations like powerhouse Bali. Thailand and Indonesia have similar ownership structures, but the maturity of Thailand’s property market make Bali outstanding value in comparison.
But Bali is Indonesia’s star, and when compared to neighbouring Lombok, it’s outrageous. So for the last three years, James Kibble and his partners have been working to realise Selong Selo, a unique development on the emerging southwest side of Lombok. Located about 25 kilometres from Bali just across the strait, low-traffic Lombok is shaping up to be a destination in itself — the next Bali if you will. “Many people have called Lombok the next Bali. I rather just call [it] Lombok,” begins Kibble by way of explanation of the location’s distinct personality. “Sure both Lombok and Bali share similar weather and that beautiful tropical feel to them but that is pretty much it. Lombok’s south coast is way bigger and in this chain of islands ‘south coast’ translates to … beautiful bays framed by rolling hills and turquoise waters over white sand beaches while south Bali is pretty much a platform of limestone that leads to a few small rocky beaches.” The two are culturally and religiously independent of each other, and Bali has twice the people on similarly sized islands. It also has some of the least known yet spectacular surfing, diving and hiking anywhere in the world.
Lombok has been the recent target of some massive government infrastructure projects, and though it’s gaining fast Bali still has a 30-year head start in its tourist industry, which means the pristine environment and relative dearth of screaming children are not likely to change any time soon. Things are set to grow in the near future though: a new airport opened in 2011 that sits 20 minutes from Selong Selo and new direct air routes are anticipated. As it stands, there was a 17 percent rise in tourist arrivals in December 2012 over the previous year.
So that makes Selong Selo a nearly ideal investment — early entry into an utterly beautiful developing market. Kind of like Vietnam, Cambodia and Burma. Kibble agrees at least on the beauty. “The first thought that came to mind here is beauty. Thailand and Vietnam have got their own but when I first saw Selong Belanak Bay I knew I had come across something special.” Other emerging locations are investing in infrastructure too, but in addition to the airport, Lombok has expanded its power grid, secondary roads and water supply — and it’s done it all within the last three years. Vietnam, Cambodia and Burma, which has political obstacles to overcome as well, have yet to put their money where their mouths are.
Banking on the Future
Most notably, Selong Selo is not a traditional development. Yes, it complies with and meets international development standards but Selong Selo’s strength for buyers is that they’ve done all the heavy lifting: the developer has figured out all the tax and buying structures, added its own infrastructure, can provide warranties of clear title and there is a deferred settlement to ease Indonesia’s lack of financing options. Oh, and there’s no villa or flat.
At least not unless investors want one. Selong Selo is selling land. It can provide recommended contractors, architects, engineers and labour to build a private villa or choose from one of its prefab homes. The idea is to offer the kind of flexibility in structure type buyers don’t often get. The available plots are nestled in the hills overlooking the bay and range in size from 11 to nearly 15 acres, or approximately 12,000 to 15,000 square feet, priced between US$55,000 and $130,000 (HK$430,000 to $1 million). Selong Selo can also provide landscaping, management and rental services, and each plot will have certainty of boundary, access road, electricity and water connected to the site. The purchase can also be used for land banking.
“We have seen land appreciate 30 percent per annum since we bought three years ago, so land banking has been a successful option for many,” explains Kibble. “There are no restrictions for a purchaser to ‘land bank’ but we envisage that most of our buyers will want to build and then get a yield on their investment by renting the villa out,” he says. Lombok already has a thriving village about 20 minutes to the east, and resort development at Selong Selo down the road isn’t out of the question.
The idea behind Selong Selo’s scattered hill homes is ultimately to capture what inspired Kibble to launch the project in the first place: a genuine affection for the spectacular environment. If Kibble has it his way, Selong Selo isn’t going to turn into a behemoth and an eyesore. “Well we see ourselves in Lombok for the long term … We want to see the area grow in the right fashion and are passionate to work with others to ensure this happens, while protecting local community values, livelihood and the environment.”