The British pound has held fairly firm in the face of the Turkish currency, the lira, and so property in Turkey remains cheap – relatively speaking – for Britons seeking a property abroad. 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 ripping off Britons was sport, and those who triumphed and actually managed to secure a quality home for their hard earned cash were the lucky few!
In this report we’re not going to beat about the bush of political correctness, 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. Note, we’re not suggesting that ripping off property hunters is an exclusive sport of the Turks, it goes on everywhere – even under our noses onshore in the UK. So, this is not a racist rant, it’s a tirade against those who seek to destroy the dreams of people who simply want to find their place in the sun.
The reason why we’re writing this article today is because we have just received yet another email asking for our help in getting money back that has been invested in an invisible property in Turkey. We call these ‘the emperor’s new properties’ because they are sold off plan to unsuspecting individuals who have no idea that their deposit, and even their stage payments if they’re unlucky, will disappear into the back pocket of a fat, hairy conman leaving them with absolutely nothing but a gaping hole where both their savings and their dreams used to be.
In the case in question the buyer – we should say ‘victim’ really as they have bought nothing – was about to fly back out to Turkey to try one more time to pin their developer down and get their lawyer to help them sort out the sorry mess they have found themselves in. We are not holding out any hope for them because the developer has no finished projects under his belt, the lawyer is the developer’s cousin and is refusing to take calls or answer emails from the buyer, and everyone everywhere seems to be asking them for more money before they will progress either their complaint or the build of the invisible property.
It’s desperate – but theirs is not a one off situation. All across Turkey there are those who are happy to fleece unsuspecting buyers because more often than not, these buyers don’t quite know the lay of the land when it comes to the purchase process in Turkey and so they are vulnerable. By the way, it’s not only locals who are in on the sport, there are British and Irish agents who are facing prosecution for allegedly ripping off their fellow countrymen in Turkey. Now then, 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 ripped off, and ideally you secure the property of your dreams.
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 lies and 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 in Turkey. Think about accessibility to an airport and major road links, think about accessibility to amenities, facilities, attractions and essential services, and make sure your location choice ticks all the boxes you identify as being important based on the reason you’re buying the property for. 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.
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. In this day and age there is no need to buy off plan 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 a 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. In Turkey you’re likely to be introduced to a lawyer by your agent, developer or vendor – but you need an independent lawyer who is reputable, 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 it – 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’s time – what can your lawyer tell you?
And so in conclusion and summary, you absolutely have to have the very best legal representation if you’re going to buy a property in Turkey without being ripped off. Accept nothing other than this as your truth!