Turkey Pulse

Turkish home sales to foreigners on the rise

Foreigners bought 1,774 homes in Turkey in August, a twofold increase from the same period last year, with Britons, Russians and Germans topping the list of buyers.

Turkey’s sun and seas continue to lure foreigners from colder climates. At the peak of the summer season in August, foreigners bought 1,774 homes in Turkey, a twofold increase from the 840 purchased the same month in the previous year.

The largest number of those homes, 591, was in the Mediterranean province of Antalya, Turkey’s tourist hub and a favorite destination of Russians, followed by Istanbul with 511 homes, Mugla with 133, Bursa with 96, Aydin with 92, Mersin with 70, Yalova with 64, Ankara with 38, Sakarya with 29 and Trabzon with 28. The remaining 121 homes are in other provinces.

In the first eight months of the year, foreigners bought a total of 11,754 homes, compared to 7,238 for the same period in 2013. Antalya again topped the list, with 4,284 homes, followed by Istanbul with 3,444, Aydin with 753 and Mugla, with such popular resorts as Bodrum and Marmaris, with 688.

Top 10 buyers and favored locations

According to statistics obtained from the Environment and Urban Affairs Ministry, foreigners owned a total of 111,579 homes in Turkey as of August 2014, with Britons topping the list with 34,355. Russians have climbed to second place with 11,770 homes, overtaking Germans who were third with 10,144.

The other buyers in the top 10 are from Norway (7,681 homes), Ireland (5,532), Denmark (5,118), the Netherlands (4,811), Sweden (3,326), Iraq (1,650) and the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (1,262). The top 10 account for 85,649 of the foreign-owned homes. The remaining properties are owned either by nationals of countries outside the Top 10 or that are not disclosed for various reasons.

Figures show that nationals from countries with cooler climates — such as Russia, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, the Netherlands and Ireland — are those who prefer Turkey’s warmer regions. Many of the foreigners owning homes on the coast appear to use their properties not only as summer homes, but throughout the year.

According to the figures provided to Al-Monitor by the Environment and Urban Affairs Ministry, Antalya tops the list of provinces where foreigners own summer homes. In Antalya’s Alanya, Belek, Kas, Kemer and Side districts, Russians own 9,396 homes, followed by Norwegians with 6,985, Germans with 5,828, Britons with 5,481, Danes with 4,527, Dutch with 3,222 and Swedes with 2,587.

The resort towns in the Aegean provinces of Mugla and Aydin are the favorite of the British. In Mugla’s Bodrum, Marmaris, Fethiye, Milas, Gocek, Dalyan, Oludeniz and Dalaman districts, Britons own 14,852 homes, in addition to 12,892 homes in the Aydin districts of Didim and Kusadasi. Meanwhile In Istanbul, German nationals own 834 homes.

Until recently, foreigners buyers could only purchase homes in Turkey based on the principle of reciprocity, meaning they held the same rights that their governments granted to Turkish nationals. Turkey abolished reciprocity in August 2012, and nationals of 183 countries got the right to acquire homes in the country. Certain restrictions were applied to nationals of neighboring countries with respect to purchases in border regions.

Amendment of the reciprocity law has considerably boosted foreign purchases. Some foreigners are reported to have sold old properties and bought new ones, while others were merely selling existing homes to take advantage of the rising prices. Hence, the total number of foreign-owned homes has not changed much despite the notable uptick in activity. When the reciprocity law was amended, foreigners owned slightly more than 100,000 homes in Turkey, while the current figure stands at 111,579.

Also at that time, 10,832 Greek nationals owned homes in Turkey. In the latest statistics, Greeks do not figure in the top 10 and are “hidden” among the “other countries” category. A similar blackout appears to have been applied to Israelis, with officials reluctant to disclose the number of purchases by them.

In response to a query from Al-Monitor regarding the full data on sales to foreign buyers, the Ministry of Urbanization said they only had numbers for the top 10 buyer countries. Could this be the government’s way to avoid potential criticism that it keeps bashing Israel but still encourages Israelis to buy homes in Turkey?

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Found in: turkey, mediterranean sea, housing market, foreign investments

Mehmet Cetingulec is a Turkish journalist with 34 years professional experience, including 23 years with the Sabah media group during which he held posts as a correspondent covering the prime minister’s and presidential offices, economy news chief and parliamentary bureau chief. For nine years, he headed the Ankara bureau of the daily Takvim, where he also wrote a regular column. He has published two books.

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