Invest in Bodrum but be careful, say real estate experts

Turkey’s Aegean and Mediterranean shores are very popular among foreign property investors for their low prices and ideal climates, say real estate experts. The first thing someone who want to buy property in Turkey should do is to consult with a lawyer expert on Turkish laws, instead of going online to make his own search, warns a real estate dealer

Turkey still has a lot to offer to foreigners who want to invest in the property market, say experts, while cautioning that potential buyers must get legal counseling before purchasing real estate.
Ömer Yetgin, chairman of the Bodrum Real Estate Dealers Association, said Bodrum was very popular among foreigners due to its natural and historical riches, although the real estate sector in Bodrum has been hit by the global economic crisis.
“The demand was much higher. We had foreigners who called from abroad to buy 15 to 20 villas,” said Yetgin. “But recently, the foreign demand for properties in Bodrum is almost nothing. What we have been told is that these clients have started to prefer other countries.”
David Walker, managing director of one of London’s leading Turkish property agents, Spot Blue Overseas Property, said Turkey’s Aegean and Mediterranean shores have been very popular among British property investors for their low prices and ideal climates.
“When British people decide to buy property in Turkey, the first thing they mostly do is to go online and search,” said Walker, noting that this is where the problems start as “most people usually believe what they see on the Internet, while it is difficult to say which information is genuine.”
The potential buyers have difficulty in deciding which real estate dealer should handle the process, said Walker, adding that the first advice he give to customers who want to buy property in Turkey is to consult with a Turkish lawyer who lives in London.
Walker said the potential buyers travel to Turkey after soliciting legal advice and are offered many choices through registered real estate agents.
Not every agent should be trusted, warned Walker. “For example, some dealers do not charge the prices on their Web sites and our customers complain that our prices are high. But in fact, the others do not tell the real price,” he said.
According to Yetgin, the real problem in the case of Bodrum is foreigners who work as real estate dealers without registration. “The foreigners come here on holiday, have fun at clubs each night and become real estate dealers during the day,” he said. “They do this through construction companies that are registered with the Bodrum Chamber of Commerce. In fact, we have trained a few foreign citizens who worked the same way and made them members of our association. Luckily, most of these ‘pirate dealers’ have gone back to their countries since the real estate sector in Bodrum suffers stagnation.”
The Bodrum Real Estate Dealers Association has been putting up a tough fight against unregistered agents, added Yetgin.
Foreigners who wish to buy a house in Bodrum should start with thorough research, said the association chairman. “They shouldn’t make down payments to every person who says he is a real estate dealer. People might have had troubles in their deals, but Bodrum is a safe town for property investments – as long as the buyers are careful about whether the dealer is officially registered.”
Walker also warned investors and criticized those who pay real estate dealers or property developers without legal guarantees. “For many buyers, the process is this: they get on a plane, have a holiday in Turkey, see the house, talk to the real estate developer, the developer insists, the customers pay and the developer disappears. Or the customers give the money to a real estate dealer, who is never to be seen again.”
The government should take more precautions to stop unregistered real estate dealers, who also damage the country’s image abroad, said Walker. “Of course, such problems are not unique to Turkey. Spain had similar problems about 10 years ago, but strict measures worked and now the problem there is at a minimum,” added Walker.
Turkish-British Chamber of Commerce and Industry, or TBCCI, General Manager Yavuz Sökmen said the TBCCI had received some questions and complaints regarding foreign property transactions in Turkey, noting that every country and every sector might face such problems.
Sökmen said the TBCCI forwards the questions and complaints to lawyers, real estate agents or the Turkish Embassy in London, based on the situation.
In some cases, the TBCCI does not get involved since the cases “involve legal conflicts,” said Sökmen, adding that prospective property investors should seek professional advice and guidance from lawyers and real estate firms. It will be helpful if such firms have references from the chamber of commerce, United Kingdom Trade & Investment, or UKTI, or the Turkish Embassy, he noted.
The Consulate General for Turkey in London also warns foreigners to be careful when they decide to buy property in Turkey on its official Web site: http://www.turkishconsulate.org.uk.
“Before a real estate sale contract is drawn up, an inquiry should be made at the relevant Land Title Registry Office as to whether such property is subject to restricted real rights, mortgaged, or any other situation exists which prohibits its sale,” reads a note on the Web site.
Foreign nationals who wish to buy real estate in Turkey are also advised “not to sign legally binding sales contracts or make any payments before obtaining information at the correct Land Title Registry Office about the immovable involved” and “not to initiate procedures before investigating the sales persons or agencies involved, and to refrain from conducting business with persons or agencies who are not able to provide sufficient proof of their credibility.”

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