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November 20, 2011, Sunday

Draft bill will enable citizens of Gulf countries to buy real estate in Turkey

Good news is afoot for Arab and Russian investors who want to buy property in Turkey. A bill for a new law which will allow citizens of countries previously banned from such transactions to purchase real estate in Turkey is almost finalized, and is expected to be submitted to Parliament very soon.

How much real estate in Turkey belongs to foreign owners, and who are they? According to the information from the Anatolia news agency, a total of 123,000 foreigners own 113,687 immovable properties in Turkey. Most foreigners with immovable property prefer Turkey's resort cities, such as Antalya, Muğla and Aydın, as well as the cities of İstanbul and Bursa, according to data obtained by the Land Registry Directorate General. This real estate covers an area of 86.1 million square meters. Antalya is the most popular city for foreigners buying real estate in Turkey. A total of 41,184 foreigners own 32,057 properties in Antalya. British, German and Greek citizens own the most real estate in Turkey. A total of 35,656 British citizens own 25,177 immovable properties, followed by 28,306 Germans with 37,233, and 10,859 Greeks with 9,989 immovable properties. Here I am talking about private, individual property owners; I'm excluding corporate investments made by foreign companies, which is a different matter.

Nationals of 89 countries do not have the right to own property in Turkey because Turkish citizens are not entitled to a similar right in their countries. These include Russia, the Gulf States and the Turkic states of Central Asia. Therefore, Gulf Arabs, Russians and the citizens of former Soviet countries such as Azerbaijan do not own property in Turkey, unless they bought it before the ban was put in place. If the new law is passed, it will especially help citizens of Middle Eastern countries, who are willing to buy land in Turkey but have previously been unable to do so due to the lack of reciprocal agreements.

Many people from these countries apply to my firm with queries about how to buy property in Turkey, expecting to face problems when buying a retirement home or relocating from a Gulf country to İstanbul or another Turkish city. Real estate professionals say that property prices are expected to increase around 20-25 percent when the ban is lifted. It might be a good idea to begin looking for a property and make a pre-purchase agreement before the prices go up. One well-established Kuwait-based real estate company operating in Turkey has already prepared for the change in the law by creating a database of available property.

I do not intend to give any business advice here, but apparently the market will react very quickly to the change in the law. For those who want to be proactive and start working on this kind of investment before the new law is passed and prices increase, there are ways in which they can secure their investment. Please note that it would be a good idea to make a written agreement securing the transaction prior to the purchase, in which you agree to pay only a certain amount, not to exceed a stated limit, or more than you want to risk.

NOTE: Berk Çektir is a licensed attorney at law and is available to answer questions on the legal aspects of living and doing business in Turkey. Please send inquiries to [email protected]. If a sender's letter is published, names may be disclosed unless anonymity is expressly requested by the sender.

DISCLAIMER: The information provided here is intended to give basic legal information and is not for professional use. Please do not rely solely on the information in this column, and remember that you should seek legal assistance from a lawyer when conducting legal transactions in Turkey.

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