4 ways to buy or sell a property

Investing in Bali, or in Indonesia in general, can be scary and stressful due to the language barrier, the difficulty of navigating the local regulation system, or the fear of being screwed by untrustworthy people.

It is important to understand how the local real estate market is structured and who are the best interlocutors for you. Please, always do some research and due diligence before signing any agreement or transferring money to someone. It sounds logical, but Bali has many stories about people losing their investments because they trusted the wrong person. Some of the factors to consider:

  • Reputation: word of mouth, track record, background, referral…
  • Good understanding of the local regulation
  • Committed to finding the right property for you
  • Patience
  • Financial literacy
  • Allowed to work in Indonesia

1- Real estate agencies

There are many real estate agencies in Bali. They usually specialize in a certain area of the Island, so be clear where you want to invest before contacting one. Most agencies have exclusive rights on the properties they are listing so you might need to contact a few of them to have a full understanding of what is available in the market.


  • Many options: you can “shop” easily on their website.
  • A team of professionals that are (in theory) at your service.
  • They can offer additional services such as a lawyer, due diligence, notary services… So you don’t have to worry too much about the legal aspects of the purchase/sale. Some also offer to build your property and manage it.
  • If the agency is legit, you know that you have someone to talk to if something goes wrong.
  • You don’t need to negotiate directly with the owner, a process that can be quite painful if you don’t speak Bahasa Indonesia and don’t live in Indonesia.


  • They take 5% commission: usually included in the price, and paid by the seller.
  • The level of service varies from one agency to another.
  • They might not have access to the best available deals.

2- Independent agents

Rather than working for an agency, these persons work alone and use their network to find deals that might not be available in traditional agencies. You usually meet these professionals through word of mouth or referral.

Be careful about whom you are working with though! Many locals and foreigners call themselves “agents” without any license or work permits. That can put your investment at risk and if something goes wrong, they quickly disappear. So be careful and do your research!


  • Commission can be flexible: a % on the sale or a fixed amount negotiated upfront
  • They might be able to find unique deals thanks to their local network of intermediaries and owners who do not work with traditional agencies.


  • You will have to take care of the legal aspect of the deal yourself: be very careful when doing your due diligence on the land and the building.
  • There is always a risk that the agent will make a deal with the owner to “inflate” the price of the property so they can share the benefit
  • If something goes wrong, you don’t have a safety net. The agent can disappear quickly.

3- Developers

Developers are companies acquiring land to build and sell properties. They often have their own team of contractors, architects, interior designers, notaries… to take care of an entire project.

A growing trend in Bali is the development of off-plan projects. Developers will sell properties based on architectural renderings, not built yet. Buyers are involved at the beginning of the project and the developers reduce the amount of money they have to spend upfront.


  • Newly built products
  • You often receive guarantees on the construction and the property
  • Some developers offer additional services such as personalized construction and design, property management, deferred payment…


  • Limited choice: of products, of location…
  • If off-plan, you may face the risk of delay, the bankruptcy of the developer…

4- Direct to owner

Although it can be difficult to reach land or property owners, especially if you don’t live in Bali, it can be a great way to find unique investment opportunities.


  • No agent – no commissions
  • Direct negotiation might lead to cheaper prices than the actual market
  • Products that are often not listed by traditional real estate agencies


  • You will have to take care of the legal aspect of the deal yourself
  • If you don’t speak Bahasa Indonesia, it can be very difficult
  • Time-consuming to find the properties: in most cases, you have to take your car or scooter and drive around to find “To sell” signage with the owner number.

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