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“I’ve been working for 16 years now and, to have a house, it seems difficult and impossible with my current situation,” said Bunga, 37, who lives in Lenteng Agung, South Jakarta.

Bunga Pertiwi Adek Puteri

 

As an office worker with one daughter, Kiandra Anaia, 5, Bunga admitted that the increasing house prices in Jakarta were the primary reason why she decided to put her dream of having a house on hold – perhaps forever. Bunga described herself as part of the “sandwich generation” who became the backbone of her family – at least five people depend on her. Neither of her parents have retirement funds, so Bunga needs to take care of them. Her younger sister also has a 6-year-old daughter who is about to enter elementary school. They all live in Bunga’s mother’s house.

“My salary is divided between the six of us […] so what I’m doing right now is focusing on the current needs and the education of the kids,” said Bunga, who also has a small business selling lemonade. Bunga recently separated from her husband and did not receive alimony – a situation that further exacerbated any plans to purchase her own house.

For Bunga, even saving money for a down payment to buy either a house or an apartment is difficult – especially if the property in question is in Jakarta. In 2019, the World Bank published a report that cited evidence suggesting that house price-to-income ratios in Jakarta were higher than in New York.

The report quoted calculations made by Statistics Indonesia (BPS) that showed Jakarta’s house price-to-income ratio to be 10.3, while those of Denpasar, Bali and Bandung, West Java were 12.1 and 11.9 respectively. Data from Demographia and Nomura showed that those numbers were double the house price-to-income ratios in New York and Singapore.

“[But] if I buy a [cheaper] house outside Jakarta, it will cost me more in the future – from transportation to my parents’ needs,” she said. “So purchasing a house can wait until later. Right now, the most important thing is daily needs, having life insurance and saving up for the kids’ education,” said Bunga, adding that she could rely on her office for health insurance. Bunga said she viewed other Indonesians who were not part of the “sandwich generation” as luckier because they could just focus on themselves or perhaps their children.

Ria, 29, who lives in Yogyakarta, is single with no children and probably not part of the “sandwich generation” that Bunga mentioned. However, having a house does not cross Ria’s mind at the moment.

“Perhaps, I will think about it when I’m 33,” said Ria, who works at an international organization. As a single woman, Ria finds it a little awkward when looking for a property in Indonesia. She recalled her experience with a property agent and the first question from his mouth was whether she was married or not. “Instead of asking me where I’m working,” she quipped.

As a result, Ria decided to spoil herself a little bit by traveling or buying assets such as gold or stocks, where her marital status would never be a problem.

Home Financing & Mortagage

Marine Novita, the CEO of Rumah.com, a website that offers houses for sale or rent, admitted that based on her company’s survey of 1,000 people including millennials, the mortgage process was still complicated.

“The paperwork tends to be complicated. We at Rumah.com can assist until the process to the bank. We also work together with one of the banks in the hope that this will ease the process of applying for a mortgage. But, of course, the bank needs to be reminded so they can respond quickly. Sometimes a customer applies today, but the response comes a few days later,” she said.

Andra Matin, an architect, acknowledged that while he already worked hard to provide budget housing with an emphasis on aesthetics, he still saw many millennials struggled to purchase a house.

Complicated & Unpleasant Home Buying Experience

Erik Sofiatry, 35, a lecturer and a researcher, got his house in Sumbawa, West Nusa Tenggara in October 2020 for Rp 240 million ($16,484). He said the nitty-gritty of the administrative work in purchasing a house would turn off many millennials.

“I got the house because my developer was smart in seeking a way to fulfill the document that is impossible for me to provide,” said Erik.

Erik described the administrative requirements of purchasing a house as “too complicated.” He highlighted the lack of using a single data source, like E-KTP, as the problem. He recalled that he was required to provide several letters from his subdistrict stating that he was, indeed, a resident of that subdistrict.

 “I thought the point of having an E-KTP [integrated data] is to be able to be mobile without that administrative “border” within my country,” said Erik.

In addition, Erik said that both the down payment and later installments in purchasing a house were too expensive for commercial housing.

“The mortgage requires you to have multiple guarantees from work, approval from your supervisors, etc. What if you are not working long-term with the company? They would not approve it. I think it also requires a letter of approval from your spouse. If you are single and marriage is not on your map, then you are done!” he said.

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