Is It Safe To Buy Property In Turkey?
Over the course of the past 10 years Turkey has become a place where more and more foreigners are choosing to purchase property. Initially the rush to buy here was due to the incredibly cheap prices compared to most European. There are still many good offers to be found and of course the weather and lifestyle here is a big attraction also.
During this time, especially in the early years of the boom, there were quite a few horror stories of people buying here and either not getting what they thought they were buying, or discovering that the owner had sold the property to more than one buyer, or even people just getting ripped off completely and not being able to get anything back at all from their so called ‘investment'.
Although the vast majority of purchases went through smoothly and most people have been very happy with their investment, these rare cases where things didn't go to plan are highlighted in social forums etc and can lead to a bad reputation for Estate Agents and purchasing property in Turkey in general.
Fortunately, with the increased investment from foreigners the government has helped to put stricter controls and punishments in place that deter potential rip off merchants and over time these problems have more or less been eradicated.
However, that doesn't mean to say that you should take everything for granted and get blasé about purchasing here. Provided you do things the right way then it is very safe to buy property in Turkey.
Safe Way to Buy Property
The first thing you should do is find a reputable Lawyer. Some people say that you don't need one to buy here and you can just use the Estate Agent to do the necessary paperwork but having the extra cover from an independent solicitor provides peace of mind to the buyer which is important when buying a house abroad.
The Estate Agent can work with the lawyer to draft the contracts and the buyer knows they have someone acting solely on their behalf and not other parties. The Estate Agent offers other services which are also invaluable as a foreigner settling into a new country, such as helping you get a tax number, bank account, residence permit applications, water and electricity connections, insurance and even furniture if required.
Although the Estate Agent should have checked the Title Deeds before advertising the property, to make sure the person who is claiming they own the property actually does own it, the lawyer will do the necessary checks on the Title Deeds on your behalf just to make sure that they do. They should also check to see if the deeds have been offered for collateral for any loans or if the owner has any outstanding debts which you could be liable for if you purchase the property.
When a Turkish person wants to buy a house here in Turkey they can have the Title Deeds within a day or two but foreigners require permission from the Military. The reason for this is because foreigners are not allowed to buy close to any military bases. In the past this used to take anything from 3 months up to a year by applying to Ankara but in 2012 there was a big re-organization of the set up and things are now done at a more local level, which means it takes about 4 weeks.
Normally, you would pay some money up front and the balance when you receive the title deed (tapu in Turkish). In the past due to the length of time the buyer would have to wait for their money if they waited on TAPU coming through, you would pay 90% but now they may be prepared to accept less of a down payment, which again provides you with a bit more peace of mind. Again, this should be discussed with you and the Estate Agent and Lawyer and written into the contract.
Also, you may be wondering about the standard of buildings in Turkey. Well, since the large earthquake in Istanbul every new building has to meet certain standards and these checks are taken very seriously. Builders can go to prison for up to 5 years if they do not comply and again, because of the increase in purchases by foreigners, companies are raising their standards in order to satisfy their customers concerns.
Do NOT buy property from waiter, jewellery seller, etc
So providing you do your research on your Estate Agent to make sure they are reputable. How long have they been in business, do you know anyone who purchased through them and have you seen their office? Do not buy from a waiter or someone who knows someone.
And also, you should find a local independent lawyer who can speak your language well, or at least one whom you can communicate well with, if you share English as a second language for instance. This is important as you don't want any miscommunication.
If you do these things then it is as safe to buy property in Turkey as it would be in any country that has good professional standards.
Author: Bayram Tekce
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