«Don’t always believe a realtor who offers you to buy an apartment by the sea.» An expert on the situation in the Turkish real estate market and some life hacks not to fall into the hands of fraudsters 2022
«Don’t always believe a realtor who offers you to buy an apartment by the sea.» An expert on the situation in the Turkish real estate market and some life hacks not to fall into the hands of fraudsters 2022

«Don’t always believe a realtor who offers you to buy an apartment by the sea.» An expert on the situation in the Turkish real estate market and some life hacks not to fall into the hands of fraudsters

The Turkish real estate market is booming, prices for apartments are rising, people continue to visit the country, attracting more and more investments. But how can a simple customer who just wants to buy an apartment avoid getting lost this chaotic stream? How not to fall into the hands of fraudsters? Today, together with the expert on the Turkish real estate market and founder and co-owner of the largest group of Russian-speaking people in Turkey «Russians in AntalyaRA», Alexey Valentinovich, we will discuss the purchase of housing on the southern Mediterranean coast (which includes most resort cities: Antalya, Alanya, Kemer and Mersin). 

«Nobody knows how much more housing prices will increase in Turkey, but there is no reason for them to fall»

— Alexey Valentinovich, please tell us how and why the Turkish real estate market has changed recently?

— I have been living in Turkey for about 10 years, and the first thing that demands our attention is the amount of people — it is growing exponentially! In the shops, on the streets, on the beaches and in the restaurants, there are more and more visitors. And these aren’t just tourists who come to Turkey during the holiday season — I meet people who came here to live more and more often. In my opinion, this process became quite active in early 2021, but, since the beginning of 2022, the process of resettling in Turkey (who knows for how long) has been called a trend. At the same time, I don’t think I’ll surprise you if I say that Turkey is particularly popular among the Russian-speaking population. 

As a result, there is simply no housing left in popular cities. The cost of renting in resort cities has increased 2-3 times over the past six to twelve months (and in some cases 4 times). For example, in September 2021, it was possible to rent a 2+1 apartment (two bedrooms + 1 living room/kitchen) in a resort city for 400-500 euros per month, while now the same apartment costs from 1000-1500 euros per month. Thus tenants are willing to pay rent for six months forward because now owners of apartments choose to whom they want to hand over their real estate. Really good apartments even get an auction among potential tenants. The situation is similar in the selling market. In recent months, the cost of a square meter in euros has increased by about 20-60%. 

Now everyone predicts a second and third wave of emigration, which means that the housing market will continue to grow. How much prices will grow, nobody knows, but we should add the seasonal factor to migration trends: before the summer, the tourist flow will grow, and, therefore, demand for housing will also increase. In addition, another important factor is the increase in the cost of construction materials. Almost all construction materials in Turkey are imported, which means that the increase in their cost directly affects housing prices. In general, there is no reason why prices for apartments and houses in Turkey will fall — only growth awaits us. 

According to the Turkish analytical platform, the number of foreign buyers of real estate in Turkey in January 2022 increased by 59% compared to the same period last year. 

The highest annual increase in the cost of a square meter of housing for the last 30 years in January 2022 was recorded in Aydin, Istanbul, and Antalya. The annual increase in the value of a square in Antalya amounted to 124% in the national currency; the average selling price of a square meter of housing is 5,455 Turkish lira (340 euros), the average housing price is 670,965 Turkish lira (about 42,000 euros).

— This increase in the cost of housing in Antalya does not surprise me. It should not be forgotten that Antalya is a resort city that lives by its own laws. Its infrastructure is developing much faster, roads, shopping and entertainment centers are being built, promenades are being restored and restaurants are being opened. Particular attention is paid to safety. As a result, we get a luxurious life on a completely different budget level (compared to Europe). 

Property prices in Antalya have been rising for 12 years and have accelerated over the past year. There has been no drop in prices during this time. If previously a 1+1 apartment in a regular area could be bought for an average of 60,000 euros, now this amount should be multiplied by two. 

In this city practically there are no free land — everything is built up. In addition, we should not forget about the delayed demand, which is now being implemented at the expense of open borders. After all, Turkey was closed to buyers from many countries for a long time due to the pandemic, and now they have the opportunity to invest in an actively growing market. Such purchases do not necessarily imply moving to Turkey — this is a «just in case» housing purchase, which at the same time provides the opportunity to receive passive income.

Real estate in Turkey

«You shouldn’t trust anyone. Nobody has a history abroad»

— But still, why Turkey? Why not Cyprus or the United Arab Emirates?

— Turkey has become a «quiet haven» for buyers, where you can come and not expect a bait-and-switch with any significant restrictions. It is now possible to fly from Istanbul to anywhere in the world — this is really important in the current situation. 

In Turkey, if you rented an apartment for a year, having paid a deposit for two months in advance, then you immediately have the opportunity to get a residence permit and live absolutely legally in this country for at least a year. A repeated residence permit may provide the possibility of legal residence for two years. I think that in other countries that would be simply impossible.

In addition, you can get Turkish citizenship if you have invested $250,000 in the real estate market. It does not matter whether it is a single property or several — only the total amount of investments is important (you can read more about obtaining Turkish citizenship for investments (and apply) here

This country has become more understandable for Russian-speaking people, here the level of service has significantly increased and all the necessary infrastructure has been polished up. We see that a large number of schools, universities, and hospitals have appeared in large cities; there are playgrounds in almost every yard, and large shopping centers in every district. The number of cultural events is growing, the structure of catering is also developing. There are even factories and plants that make products aimed at the Russian-speaking population: sausages, black bread, croutons, kvas, etc. What to say, even pig breeding farms have begun to appear in Turkey.

Turkey also has the Mediterranean Sea, 300 sunny days a year and a local population that is tolerant towards all nationalities. All nationalities have the opportunity to gather in communities and communicate comfortably within the diaspora. For example, I am the founder and owner of the largest Russian-speaking community in the world — Russians in Antalya RA, where more than 107,000 people are now registered. 

It is in this community that a Russian-speaking person can ask any question regarding the purchase of housing, real estate agencies or real estate agents, the organization of life in the city or the placement of a child in a kindergarten or school. Here you can also find out which areas of a city should be considered for buying an apartment, for example.

— That is, in the city, there are areas where it is better for a foreign buyer not to buy housing?

— Yes, and there are several types of such areas. The first type consists of absolutely normal neighborhoods where only locals live. There are a number of features that an outsider will not understand. It will be very difficult for a foreigner to settle in there. You see, in Antalya there were orange groves growing 25 years ago, and there were pastures for sheep everywhere. There are still areas where just the local population lives, and these people are absolutely not adapted to tourists. It is a local society with its own features. For example, here on the balconies you can fry meat/fish and sit to socialize all night long or watch TV. Imagine that you live next door to people like that and constantly hear these conversations and smell fried food. At the same time, the quality of construction in such neighborhoods leaves much to be desired — Turks like large apartments, but absolutely do not bother with soundproofing. So you’re just going to live as one big, close-knit family. 

The second type are openly criminal areas. They exist in every major city in the world. In such areas, there are drugs, prostitution is extended, and it is very dangerous to be there. But housing in these areas is cheaper, yes.

— How can you protect yourself from swindlers or unscrupulous realtors?

— In Turkey, as nowhere else, the principle of recommendations works. Before you start working with a realtor or agency, you need to make inquiries about it. And you can ask your questions in our Internet community. Here, people will share their own experiences of purchasing an apartment, tell you who they contacted, and what realtor they worked with. Believe me, you shouldn’t trust any person who has presented as a realtor and tells you «it is profitable to buy an apartment by the sea». It is important to understand that, abroad, nobody has a history: you don’t know who came from where, who they are and what they did before.

But even if you checked the realtor and received recommendations, you shouldn’t relax. Any real estate market (not just the Turkish one) is full of fraudsters and con artists who make a lot of money from gullible buyers. That is why the main rule of the market is not to rush or listen to anyone. And it is very important not to give in to emotions. Turkey is a very beautiful country with stunning landscapes and incredible views. Many inexperienced investors buy apartments here in the first week of their stay in the country. They make purchases recklessly, focusing only on their emotions, and that is when they are caught by scammers who sell either problematic or illiquid real estate. 

— What kind of real estate can be called problematic? 

— Problematic real estate are, for example, houses without an iskan (technical passport). There are a lot in Turkey there are a lot, they are in every region. The iskan is a document confirming the commissioning of the house. To receive it, the developer needs to pass all commissions for compliance with all standards and pay off all creditors. The nuance is that even without an iskan, a developer has the right to sell apartments in a building. But utility payments in the house will be calculated at commercial prices (several times higher than usual), and there is also a risk that this house may be demolished as an illegal structure. There have only been a few cases of demolition of such buildings in Turkey, but such a chance should not be ruled out.

Another common mistake is buying land in an unfavorable location. People think that they can build a house on a plot, and then it turns out that you can’t build real estate on the land you bought. More precisely, you can’t build something with a foundation — only something like a hut on chicken legs. This happens when it comes to protected areas, for example. 

In fact, there are many «traps» and most often those who succumb to emotions fall into them.

Buying an apartment in Turkey

«There is no work for foreigners here. None»

— Can I buy an apartment in Turkey on my own, without the help of a realtor?

— Until recently, we could walk around the city and see signs on the balconies with the phone numbers of the owners of the apartment who want to sell it. It’s rare to see that now. You will not be able to buy an apartment in Turkey without a realtor. Moreover, there is a specific realtor working here in each particular area. They usually know all the real estate sellers in the area and communicates with all the potential buyers. In Turkey, it will not be possible to find the full amount of information on the Internet — the human factor is very important here. 

To find a really good apartment, you need to contact several realtors at once. Some of their ads will be the same, but some will be unique because the owner entrusted their real estate to them in particular.

— Is it difficult for those who came to live in Turkey for a long period of time to go through the process of socialization?

— If the person really wants to be socialized, he will join a community of other immigrants and find friends, a circle of communication and learn all necessary information. Seek, and you shall find.

The local population is perfectly attuned to those who come and give them money. They are fundamentally very financially oriented. It is important for them that foreigners buy apartments, go to restaurants, pay taxes. Except for one point: there is no work for foreigners here. None. No one will let a foreigner enter the market of local companies. At the moment, everything is tough. Exceptions are only illegal beauty services at home — but there are many such specialists in any country (by the way, this can lead to huge fines, up to deportation). You can only live in Turkey if you have a remote job that fully meets all your needs, or passive income. Because, if you live in Turkey, it is better to earn on the basis of freelance work or passive income in euros or dollars, and to spend in lira.

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