This chapter discusses what you should do and what you should avoid when searching for a partner and nominee. Once you have chosen a partner, and perhaps one or more experienced people with you whom you can trust, the whole process of buying land gets easier.
5.1 Start Looking Early
Finding a competent, independent and honest partner is the most important, but also the most difficult step. After doing business together for many years, your partner will probably become a close friend. You will entrust your partner and nominee with a substantial amount of money and responsibility for many years in the future. Fortunately your partner and nominee is the only person whose ability to make money by commission depends on your ability to successfully complete a purchase. This makes him/her the only one on Lombok who shares your best interest. All others have split loyalties.
If you are thinking of marrying an Indonesian citizen that currently is your nominee or could become your nominee. It is very important to enter into a pre-nuptial agreement before the marriage; otherwise your spouse may no longer hold Hak Milik land title (legal trap). Mixed-couples that did not register a pre-nuptial agreement are risking loosing their properties in Indonesia. This information cannot be overstated since it is very common that the nominee is also your wife or husband. This is mentioned in the first interview with Rainy Hendriany.
There are many ways to meet a suitable partner. You may already have met a number of locals during one of your visits to Lombok. It is worth remembering that just because someone is friendly and likable does not necessarily qualify him/her to be a good partner. The most important qualities of a partner is to be honest, capable of helping you in the land purchase process and have good communication skills. When you meet someone who you like and seems to care for your best interest, he/she might be the perfect candidate to be your partner to recommend someone.
5.2 Wide Variety of Skills
You must be careful not to disclose too much information in your discussions with local people. Always try to keep the conversation hypothetical or that your “friend” is looking to start a business in Lombok someday and want to meet someone who can guide him/her. The reason for this extra caution is simply that everyone suddenly becomes experts when then can smell big money fast. You must seek someone who is both well respected and well connected within the community. We also recommend that you perform an interview to verify the skills and experience of your potential business partner. Do not mention specifically what kind of business you intend to start; your partner should have a wide array of skills, including negotiator, arbitrator and problem solver. Do not forget that your partner may be in court with you someday, or called upon to settle a property border dispute with a neighbor.
People with a university degree are good candidates for being your partner. It is a good sign if your potential partner also has achieved success in some other occupation than real estate, like for example being an English teacher. For your future relation with your partner, honesty and friendliness are important qualities, but do not only trust your intuition, sometimes it can trick you.
Be careful of being impressed by job titles, nationalities or appearance of success. There are many people in the real estate business on Lombok that seem successful. When you start to investigate how they built their wealth by asking around and taking references, you are likely to find skeletons in the closet. Some well-known real estate characters in south Lombok started their career by selling overpriced parcels or land belonging to LTDC or the Forestry. Land belonging to LTDC (Lombok Tourism Development Corporation) and the Forestry cannot be sold and no certificate can be issued. Paying a deposit for such land is money down the drain. Always check references and ask around! Perhaps it would be a good idea to create some kind of “black list” for well-known scammers, but it is likely we would get problem by doing that so we will make this your responsibility to find out for yourself.
Be cautious with persons insisting that their opinions are the only right answers. Working with a partner who claims to have all the answers can be both frustrating and dangerous. A great partner should listen to your ideas and recognize when your ideas and opinions actually are the best way moving forward.
5.3 Other Trustworthy People
Your may also need trusted local residents in your team. They can give you advice and help you to avoid mistakes and scams that are common in the real estate purchasing process. If your partner is not highly familiar with buying land, you may need a processing agent to process a certificate. It is also good to have someone to exchanges ideas and cost estimates to make land improvements, do some construction work or other projects.
Be careful of making promises, commitments or even holding casual conversation with anyone before you have established their ability to keep business conversations confidential. The communities on Lombok have a deep-rooted gossip chain. Someone who does not mean to intentionally cause you harm might very well do so if unable to keep business conversations confidential. Saying one or two things two much about your conversation can mean that the whole community will know your business the next day. This is also true for other foreigners as well so make sure to always do your homework and make sure that people you talk to can keep private conversation confidential.
5.4 Check if Trustworthy
You can check and verify if people are trustworthy by following three steps.
5.4.1 Request email references
Request three email references of past foreign clients. Anyone who has a good experience working with someone on Lombok will be more than happy to discuss his or her experience in the privacy of an email. Also try to strengthen the verification by asking the references if you can connect on Facebook or Linkedin. If you are talking to a real person, he or she is likely to have either a Facebook and/or Linkedin account. Someone who cannot provide three email references is either inexperienced or performed poorly. Not good for your money.
5.4.2 Search Internet and Forums
There is plenty of information on Internet and in popular expat Forums such as Balipod.com and Lombok Lovers for example. Look for people who are familiar with the area where you are considering buying land. Other expats living in the area often make use of Forums. Nothing is 100% reliable, but the information that you find will help to build your case. When the founders of this web site first came to Lombok we simply Google search the name of our agent. We found information verifying that our agent is a well-respected member of the community, honest and clearly friendly towards foreigners. Our case was a bit special since our agent was involved in helping an American citizen who got into trouble in south Lombok a few years back, but nevertheless very useful source for us to base our decision on.
5.4.3 Seek out credible sources in the community
Seeking out credible sources in the community and ask for their opinions is more difficult than previous steps, but might be the only way of adding sufficient information to your case. Examples of credible sources where you can start are successful business owners and community leaders. Often these people are willing to talk freely and honestly about who has caused problems in the past since they desire to protect their community and improve the reputation.
Be careful of replying on opinions or gossip that you may hear in a casual situation, especially in the area where you want to buy. You are likely to meet local people who are in someway connected with selling property. These people are off course interested in getting commission from the sale of a property and to increase that chance, they often try to cast a doubt about competitors, i.e. your potential agent, partner, etc. Examples of such people are hotel employees and tour guides.
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