How To Buy Property In Turkey – Foreign Buyers’ Guide

Buying a property in Turkey - dos and don'ts and how to do it safely.

You don’t have to be a millionaire to enjoy a Mediterranean lifestyle – there are plenty of affordable houses and apartments in Turkey. Property in Turkey remains cheap – relatively speaking – for foreign buyers.

In this guide, we will be looking at how to buy property in Turkey and avoid possible pitfalls.

Peculiarities of the Turkish property market

Pushing up the appeal of Turkish property, even more, is the fact that the nation is driving ahead with the promotion and extension of its tourism sector, making parts of the country very popular with property investors and speculators.

However, the Turkish property industry is often compared with the Spanish industry 20 – 25 years ago when foreigners buying a property were left unprotected by laws and exposed to all kinds of scams. Those foreign buyers who triumphed and actually managed to secure a quality home for their hard-earned cash were the lucky few.

In this report, we’re going to get right to the heart of the matter and discuss how you can buy property in Turkey without being ripped off. 

Be careful when buying a property off-plan

Turkey’s off-plan property sales were peaking in 2002 – 2007. Foreign buyers were convinced buying off-plan was the best way to make money. They were often convinced that it was the last chance to buy in the location of choice and that by the time the property was completed the price would have gone up already.

Quite a few of those early buyers did make money on their purchases. However, there were also many tragic stories where developers went bust. Others disappeared with all the deposits and payments that had been made to them and no actual properties to show for it.

Sometimes such ‘emperor’s new properties’ were sold off-plan to unsuspecting individuals who had no idea that their deposit, and even their stage payments if they’re unlucky, would disappear into the back pocket of a conman leaving them with absolutely nothing but a gaping hole where both their savings and their dreams used to be.

People were left in situations where the developer had no finished projects under his belt, the lawyer was the developer’s cousin and was refusing to take calls or answer emails from the buyer, and everyone everywhere seemed to be asking them for more money before they would progress either their complaint or the build of the invisible property.

If buyers don’t quite know the lay of the land when it comes to the purchase process in Turkey, they are vulnerable. So, if you do want to buy off-plan, make sure you understand your risk.

There are no specific financial guarantees to people buying off-plan property in Turkey, so you won’t have any protection if your builder goes bust.

Start with locations

If you want to look seriously at a property purchase in Turkey, here’s how you should approach the market and the sale so that you hopefully avoid being scammed.

Yes, property in Turkey can make an exceptionally good investment purchase – however, not all property in Turkey is good value – and this is where you need to start. 

You have to work out which locations are worth investing in, which developers are worth trusting and which specific property is worth your hard-earned cash. 

Despite what all agents and developers will tell you, the market is not so buoyant in Turkey at the moment that you have to make quick decisions and act in haste.  The tourism economy contracted over the last year because of the global recession – and this has had a direct impact on the real estate market. 

Yes, things will very likely rebound in Turkey as it has all the elements in its favour such as stunning scenery, a fantastic climate, investment into infrastructure, a growing economy, increased accessibility and an overwhelming desire to progress – but you’re buying in today’s market, and today’s market is subdued.

This is a point in your favour, it means you can take the time you need to do the research and it means you’re in a strong negotiating position.  Approach your purchase from a business-like frame of mind, however, so that you remain firm in the face of pressure from developers and agents.

Working out where to buy will be a personal choice.  Your choice may be dictated and directed by whether you’re buying a holiday home for yourself abroad, an investment property to rent to the tourism market or a home for you to move to live in Turkey. 

Think about accessibility to an airport, major road links, amenities, facilities, attractions, and essential services. Make sure your location choice ticks all the boxes you identify as important based on the reason you’re buying the property. 

For example, if the property is to be let to tourists it needs to be within reach of an international airport, it needs to be close to amenities such as swimming pools and restaurants, it needs to be near the sea or places of interest.

Or, if you are after a long-term let, look at the most popular places to live in Turkey for expats.

Decide what property type you want to invest in

Next, you need to think about the property type – apartments are popular choices for those looking for a lock-up and leave holiday home as well as for those seeking an investment property that they can rent out easily. 

Villas with pools are attractive for people thinking of moving to live in Turkey, and then village properties and more traditional homes make good long-term projects for those who want to perhaps renovate, add value and resell.

Having selected the location and the property type, it’s time to begin your hunt.  There is no need to buy off-plan in this day and age if you don’t feel secure in doing so. 

There are many developments that are completed and that have empty, brand new units for sale – what’s more, there are plenty of resale properties on the market.  For anyone who wants to be sure their money is going into bricks and mortar, a completed property makes a lot of sense.

Alternatively, you may be won over by the thought of having some influence on the final finish of property and still decide to buy off-plan.  Whichever property type you decide upon, you absolutely have to have fantastic legal backing before you progress any further – and this is where things can get exceptionally tricky. 

Working with property agents and lawyers

In Turkey you’re likely to be introduced to a lawyer by your agent, developer or vendor – but you need a reputable, independent lawyer, who is a property specialist, who knows the area you’re buying in and who will look after your interests. 

You need to investigate their qualifications, you need to ask for testimonials, you need to know from the lawyer why you should trust them to help you, and then finally – when you have chosen your lawyer, you need to know in advance what they are going to do for you.

They have to check your right to purchase and be given the title deeds to the property you’re interested in. 

So, the property must not be built on disputed land, it must not be close to military land, it cannot be held in the names of multiple people if there is seemingly only one vendor.

There must be no outstanding mortgages on the property – or if there are, you have to have a watertight contract that sees the money you pay the vendor going to pay off the debt on the property so that you do not inherit it. 

The lawyer has to ensure you’re buying what you think you’re buying, they need to look into the background of the developer if you’re buying off-plan and advise you about their reputation ideally.  Will the developer be in business in a year – what can your lawyer tell you?

Paperwork and bureaucracy

It’s faster for locals to buy a property in Turkey as in terms of paperwork involved. They can obtain the Title Deeds within a few days.

As a foreigner, you will have to go through the process of obtaining permission from the Military first. Foreign citizens are not allowed to purchase property too close to military bases.

The applications are proceeded at a local level, however, the wait time can take up to 4 weeks.

Buying a property in Turkey – summary

It’s important to research the market and what’s available first. Know the area, get recommendations from fellow expats.

A reputable estate agent is a must. Don’t buy a property from a friendly local whom you have met in a shop or a cafe. To protect yourself you absolutely have to have the very best legal representation if you want to buy a property in Turkey safely.

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