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Advices and Pitfalls to Avoid When Buying Property in Turkey

8.2.2013

If you are thinking about buying property in Turkey there are a number of things to consider to make sure you avoid any potential pitfalls in the purchase. Many people have been ignorant of the dangers and ended up paying a heavy price in one way or another, so please consider this advice seriously. If you search for buying a house in turkey advice, it is advised to visit testimonials page of the real estate company.

The most important thing above all else is to make sure you know the company and the people you are dealing with. You would be amazed at how many people come to Turkey and get to know a nice friendly waiter who has a friend that is supposedly selling an apartment at a very reasonable price and before they know it they've been hoodwinked into losing at the very least a large deposit and at the worst their entire life savings.

Although there are more laws in Turkey recently concerning customer rights that are coming into line with European practices, there is still a lot of grey area and buyers are not protected here in the same way as they would be in their home country.

So the first thing to do is to find a reputable Estate Agent that you can trust. When looking online the quality of the website is the first indication of the level of competence of the company. If the site looks professional and doesn't have annoying music or bad links then that's a good start.

At this stage, before you even look at potential purchases you can do a search about the company to see if anyone has anything negative to say about them. Obviously, people can have some misfortune from time to time and that may not have been the companies fault but you will be able to tell by the persons complaint how well the Estate Agent worked to resolve any problems.

After choosing some properties you are interested in, you can then send an email of enquiry to the company. Although you shouldn't necessarily expect an answer the next day, a reply anything more than a working week would suggest that they are not as attentive as they could be and you should proceed with a bit of caution.

Of course, the nature of what they say in the email will give you a greater insight into who you are dealing with. If they seem to desperate to get you to visit Turkey as soon as possible to take you on a viewing trip then you would have to wonder why the sense of urgency.

However, if they are courteous and answer your questions in a forthright manner then you should give them a phone call to get a feel for the people with who you may do business. Most professional real estate agents, especially ones in tourist towns, should have at least one member of staff who can speak English fluently.

After discussing properties you are interested in and getting an idea of the purchasing procedure should you choose to go to Turkey to look for a property, it is a good idea to find at least another one, possibly two other Estate Agents in the same area and checking them out in the same way as above.

At this point, you can go ahead and book your trip and if the company offers you cheap accommodation and a day or two property viewing tour then by all means go ahead with the one that feels most comfortable for you but it is also worthwhile to take some time to meet the other Estate Agents while you are there.

This will not only give you more options for properties but you will get a good comparison between the different companies. In the main, most companies are professional and you would have no problems but it is still good to have a good relationship with people who you feel you can trust and so it is important to choose the company that feels right to you because if things do go wrong you want to be able to communicate well in order to sort out any problems.

Another mistake some people can make is to book up with too many Estate Agents. This just ends up being very confusing for the buyer and most of the time they end up going home with no inroads made at all into their property purchase and they need to come back a second time to start again from scratch almost.

Of course, this isn't necessarily a bad thing as you don't want to make a rushed decision but if you stick to two or three Estate Agents at maximum, you will get a feel for the one you prefer and can start to make more serious enquiries on particular properties.

Some people think they can save money by not going through an Estate Agent and it can end up costing them a lot more. For instance, you as the buyer, have no real way of knowing the true market value of the property as it is not controlled in the same way as it is in the UK, for example. So you could go through your waiter's friend and although the sale goes ok, but you could have paid well over the value of the property.

There are also many more things that can go wrong if you don't use an established Estate Agent but something else you should do is get your own independent lawyer. Remember, the estate agent is acting on behalf of the seller as well as you, so although they can draw up contracts themselves, it is still better to have that extra layer of protection from someone looking after your interests solely.

Again, you should do your research to find a reputable lawyer who you can converse easily with in either your own language or a common language such as English. Do not go with a lawyer who you cannot communicate with at a high level as this can lead to misunderstandings and you want to avoid them at all costs.

Although the Estate Agent has probably checked the "Title Deeds" do actually belong to the person selling the property, it is usually also done by the lawyer as a safety measure on your behalf. They will check the seller is who they say they are, that they own the property outright and that the property is not liable for any outstanding debts. This should be done before any deposit is paid.

At this point you should also be asking how much are the maintenance charges for the property. If it is a simple residential property it should be quite cheap as you only pay for communal stair lighting and perhaps garden cleaning but if it is a property on a site with swimming pool, fitness area, etc then the prices will increase and it is something you should be aware of before purchasing.

Another potentially huge pitfall about buying abroad is buying off-plan properties. You can actually save a lot of money by purchasing off plan but you have to be wary. Some companies do not have the total money required to finish the building and only when each person agrees to buy and invests money does the project continue. In a market where there is many new buildings going up this can be very dangerous. Again, most of the time the properties will get completed but if you are relying on others for your property to be complete it can be an extra worry you could do without.

There are some companies that are fully solvent and they only build when they know they have the money to complete the project. You should get these types of assurances from the company if you choose to buy off-plan and of course have any penalties written into the contract, just in case they fail to deliver on their promises.

Also, when deciding on which property to buy don't choose them solely on the basis of price. Of course, you need to stay within your budget but remember that cheapest doesn't necessarily mean best. Maybe something is cheap because nobody else wants it and so you could be hard pushed if you want to sell it in the future.

After the Title Deed (tapu) of the property has been cleared and you are happy to proceed then you, the lawyer, the Estate Agent and the seller will draft a contract clearly stating all the conditions of the sale. This should be as detailed as possible, with the times of payments clearly stated and any penalties for anyone not complying to the contract written and agreed upon. This is when you should pay your deposit. You should check that the Estate Agent is bonded to hold the deposit and be careful not to pay too much too soon.

Any foreigner purchasing in Turkey has to get military clearance stating that their property is not close to a military base. In the past you had to apply to the headquarters in Ankara to do this and it used to take anything from 3 months up to a year. This meant that when it came time to purchase the property you would pay up to 90% to the seller and then the final 10% when you receive the title deed.

However, there has been a change in the system recently and it is now done locally so the title deed (tapu) comes back usually between 2-4 weeks. This is great news for you and means you can give a lower deposit as the seller doesn't have to wait so long for his final payment. You should use this to your advantage, for peace of mind if nothing else.

One last thing about purchasing property in Turkey as that you want to look into the inheritance rules that are in place as they may not be the same as your home country. It is probably a good idea to draft a will with your lawyer so that in the case of any deaths in the family the property will go to the person to whom you have chosen.

For instance, you could be married to someone who has a daughter neither of you have seen in 20 years for whatever reason. If the partner dies, the total property value may not automatically go to the grieving spouse but 50% of it could be due to go to the daughter. It is just something to bear in mind.

In general, as long as you are cautious in choosing a good estate agent and lawyer and you make sure you are fully aware of every step of the procedure and ask questions as you proceed to clarify any issues then you don't have anything to worry about and you can just concentrate on enjoying your house in the beautiful country of Turkey.

Author: Bayram Tekce

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