How to Purchase an Apartment in Turkey

Below we discuss some important details that you should pay heed to when buying an apartment in Turkey.

To begin with, you should expect the prices to be quoted in US dollars especially if the sale is aimed at foreigners seeking citizenship of Turkey by investment. At the same time, all the payments associated with registering the property rights have to be made in Turkish liras.

How to find an apartment in Turkey

There are specialized websites that can give you a general overview of the real estate market in Turkey. However, you can hardly use the information to buy an apartment on your own: you have to hire a realtor in Turkey.

When choosing the apartment, you should bear in mind certain specific details.

The size of the apartment is not indicated in square meters in Turkey. Rather, they indicate the number of bedrooms. Turks measure the size of the apartment by the outer perimeter of the house. Thus, the staircase may be included in the total area of the apartment, which makes measurement in square meters irrelevant.

They indicate the size of the apartment as follows: 1 + 1, 2 + 1, 3 + 1, and so on. The first figure indicates the number of bedrooms. Apartments are seldom tiny in Turkey: a 1-bedroom apartment will normally have 50 m² and a 2-bedroom apartment will have 80 m² or more.

Turks are used to living in large families and this is the reason why they live in spacious apartments. Newer high-rise buildings meant for foreign buyers can have smaller apartments, however.

They calculate the floors in the British manner: ground floor, first floor, and so on. The ground floor often contains shops and offices. If the ground floor has apartments, they will have separate entrances.

An apartment on the ground floor can have a small garden attached to it where you could plant flowers. This looks exciting at first sight but the prices for apartments on the ground floor are a bit lower. The matter is that ants and other insects are going to be frequent visitors if you buy an apartment on the ground floor.

All the utilities will be disconnected when you buy an apartment in Turkey. You will have to make agreements with the local water and electricity suppliers as well as Internet providers when you buy an apartment in Turkey. Even if the apartment has been lived in before, the previous owner will have notified the utility companies of the sale and they will have stopped providing services.

Ethnic groups concentrate in certain city districts. There are neighborhoods where conservative Turkish families live and neighborhoods popular with expats. The European part of Istanbul, for example, is popular with retirees from Europe. In Antalya, there is a district where Turks born and raised in Germany live. They speak German and their contacts with native Turks are limited.

Make sure that the property documents are in order. The Turkish administrative machine is far from perfect and you have to be aware of that. The building has to be properly registered with the authorities: you won’t be able to get electricity and water supply otherwise. Please request to see the ‘passport’ of the building that is officially called the yapı kullanma izin belgesi in the Turkish language.

How to deal with Turkish realtors

You could buy an apartment in Turkey without anybody’s assistance, in theory. However, it is going to be problematic if you don’t speak Turkish. As a rule, foreigners buying property in Turkey hire real estate agents.

A realtor has to have a license in Turkey and you’d better ascertain your realtor does hold a license at the very beginning. Some Turkish realtors speak good English but not all of them.

The realtor’s tasks include checking the prospective deal for legality, drawing up the purchase agreement, and negotiating the price with the seller. Normally, Turkish realtors drive customers around in their cars to show the pieces of property for sale.

Communication skills are highly important in Turkey. If the real estate agent likes talking with you, you may get some bonuses. For instance, if the apartment wants repairs, you can buy the construction materials and the real estate agency will monitor the builders who do the repairs. You can go back home while the repairs are underway and the realtor will be sending you photos demonstrating the work progress.

Please note that the seller can also act via a realtor. Whoever hires the realtor pays him/ her 2% of the contract price (in a standard case). You can sign an agreement with the realtor but relationships are often based on trust in Turkey and agreements are made orally.

Good realtors are highly valued in Turkey and people exchange their contacts with each other.

Reasons for buying an apartment in Turkey 

Depending on the reason why you are buying an apartment in Turkey, your realtor is going to make different offers to you. Here are the 4 main reasons why foreigners purchase apartments in Turkey:

  1. To live there on a permanent basis. In this case, the realtor will want to know how many children you have and what age they are. He/ she will offer apartments that have playgrounds nearby and schools/ kindergartens in the vicinity.
  2. To let the apartment on a long-term lease. In this case, the realtor will point out the neighborhoods popular with guests of the country. They are going to offer universal apartments that could be of interest for many groups or renters.  
  3. To let the apartment on a short-term lease. In this case, the realtor will most often show you apartments in condominiums under the supervision of management companies.
  4. To resell the apartment later at a higher price. In this case, the realtor is going to offer you off-plan property or property located in a rapidly developing region of the country. One of such regions is the city of Mersin, for example. Property prices are lower in Mersin than they are in Antalya.

We have to note that the realtor is going to offer you apartments that would allow him/ her to make better money and not the apartments that would let you live a better life or the apartments with the best price/ quality ratio. Currently, this is the seller’s market as demand notably exceeds supply. This is why you have to consider pieces of property that the realtor draws your attention to. There is nothing you could do about it, unfortunately.

We also recommend that you set the price limit for the realtor in an honest way. If you quote a lower price than you would be prepared to pay in reality, you might miss some attractive opportunities. The matter is that an apartment that costs US$ 170,000 can be much better than an apartment that costs US$ 150,000 in Turkey.

We will conclude with a strange fact. While Turks love bargaining in the marketplace, they don’t usually bargain when it comes to selling property. Even if you can get a discount, it is going to be very small.

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