Letter : Lombok — Mission impossible
Kuta Beach, Lombok has been touted as a hot new tourist development area for a number of years now. Having been based in Indonesia for 20-odd years, I thought it might be a nice idea to buy some property at this new haven and retire together with my Indonesian wife of 10 years. I had hesitated for several years due to the strange stories we kept hearing about other expats being cheated out of their money, and other unhappy buyers who just couldn’t get their deeds processed.
Finally, in April 2011, my wife and I traveled to Kuta Beach on a holiday and after checking with the local lawyers and realtors, we bought a couple of empty lots after being assured that the old days of “bad deals” and long deed processing times were gone, and a new era of faster processing was the new standard. A reputable notary in Praya agreed to handle our purchase and assured us all would be well. They did advise us that in a worst-case scenario it could take up to six months to process our deed, but that three months was a more normal time frame to expect all the documents to be completed.
So here we are 14 months later, still waiting for our deed. For the past eight months, my notary has informed me that the paperwork is already completely processed at the land-titles office in Praya, and that all it requires is one final signature from the head of the land-titles office. First, we heard the excuse that this person was in Jakarta and could not sign the paper, but after some time that story got worn out. Next, the excuse was that he was too busy to sign it, but after eight months this excuse is also worn out.
In discussing this with other property buyers in Kuta, I now find others who are told the same thing, and they bought property even earlier than I did. Now, I’m beginning to wonder how many years it will take to get one signature on a piece of paper. Are they that badly under understaffed at the land-titles office that they can’t manage one final signature? If the head of land titles is so busy (or absent), are they not making enough fees to be able to afford an assistant who can sign a simple piece of paper to reduce the waiting time? A one- to two-year waiting time sounds quite ridiculous, doesn’t it?
I also wonder if the Indonesian government is even serious about this development at all. Property buyers don’t see much happening. In short, the whole thing looks like another botched-up mess. Those of us who were willing to start building our houses aren’t going to get started until we get a deed in our hands. You never know if you’ve been the victim of a scam land deal, so construction will not begin on my property until I’m sure the property is really mine.