With a vast and stunning coastline which gets easier to reach each year, southwest Turkey continues to attract British buyers in their thousands. Don’t jump in without reading our indispensible guide.
Turkey may have arrived rather late to the British overseas property party, but it’s showing no sign of crashing and burning. Its low property prices, helped by being outside the Eurozone, and a huge coastline that has still plenty of potential, have enabled some 35,000 Brits to own a property on the shores of the Mediterranean. In total, we own six million square metres of Turkish land, almost double that owned by the next highest group, the Germans. However since the Turks allowed in buyers from Russia and the Middle East in 2012, investors from these countries have really fuelled the market in areas such as Bodrum and Istanbul.
After prices started booming in Spain, and areas became dominated by tourism, we headed to Turkey as an alternative place for affordable holidays, or something a little more authentic or exotic – with its easygoing version of Islam.
But Turkey is only cheap in the financial sense – it’s a beautiful and well-looked after country, and the popular south-west coast is packed with historical ruins from the great civilizations including Greek, Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman.
Living costs of 50-60 per cent below the UK allow a retired expat to live comfortably on a pension that might see them struggling (and shivering) in the UK. How does council tax of £55 appeal? That’s per year.
Winters are much warmer than the UK – at least in the southern seaside areas where British people usually buy and especially at the Antalya end of this vast coastline. It’s also getting easier to find a direct flight from the UK in the off-season (including new winter flights to Bodrum, for example).
Indeed the number of flights has increased rapidly, with Monarch joining BA, easyJet, Jet2, Turkish and Pegasus Airlines, as well as all the many charter operators.
To all these advantages you can add the genuinely friendly welcome from the Turkish people and a great cuisine.
With a few exceptions – principally Istanbul – British buyers stick to the resorts of Turkey’s southwest coast, south of Izmir, where the Aegean meets the Mediterranean.
From the north, the first buying area is Çesme, out on a peninsula, with some lovely, traditional seaside villages that are popular with weekenders from Izmir, 50km away. Its stone village houses with bright blue shutters give it a distinctly Greek look, but prices are high, around £100,000 for a new-build apartment, a third less for a resale.
Further south literally and financially is Kusadasi, with prices considerably lower than Çesme. Kusadasi is a cheap and cheerful, family-friendly resort based around a port town of 65,000 people.
The ruins of Ephesus nearby bring in the cruise liners and mean that the summertime party atmosphere doesn’t close down entirely in winter. You can buy an apartment from £30,000, a villa with pool for £120,000.
Didim, next to Kusadasi, is a working Turkish town whose traditional income from agriculture is now dwarfed by tourism. It is built on the ruins of ancient Didyma, but that hasn’t saved it from being dubbed the “Blackpool of Turkey” although current investment includes a new marina and town square..
Altinkum, next to Didim, has the Brit-style bars and cafes that many locals believe will appeal to its many UK buyers, but once you’re beyond the seafront it soon feels very Turkish.
Properties can be inexpensive in Altinkum, with apartments from £20,000, but buyers should view such bargains with caution and certainly not skimp on the legal fees. There are also marina and golf course properties, and villas from below £90,000. Akbuk is a relatively green and quiet, but up-and-coming resort, nearby.
Bodrum is the highlight of this stretch of coast, and a luxury hotspot historically popular with rich Turks - it has gained several new five-star hotels in recent years including the Kempinski and Aman Resorts.
An ancient city, Bodrum was once named Halicarnassus and is built on the remnants of one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. The Bodrum peninsula is 25 miles long and mixes classy resorts and marinas such as Turkbuku and Yalikavik with the more affordable Gumbet, and the lively town of Bodrum itself. The airport nearby makes access easy, and the variety of prices goes from two-bedroom flats from £40,000, to villas overlooking the bay at Turkbuku costing £1 million plus.
Bypassing Marmaris, which is a major tourist area but hasn’t become a big market for property buyers, Dalaman is the next major buying area, and beyond that Fethiye; a city and district that, with nearby Calis, Ovacik and Hisaronu, is a great favourite amongst British buyers.
The area is most famous for Olu Deniz, one of the most photographed beaches in the world, and away from this protected stretch, studio apartments can go from £30,000, good quality villas with private pools from £140,000.
Kalkan and Kas are next, more sedate resorts based around bohemian old towns with attractive harbours. Buyers tend to be older, wealthier, and looking for a more authentic Turkish experience. Apartments are more expensive than Fethiye (but still start at just £50,000) while villas can hit a million. Kalkan is a good place for holiday rentals.
Antalya is further east, around a headland, and has the advantage of direct, year-round flights to the UK from its airport and a slightly warmer climate.
Side, further west, is cheaper than Kalkan, starting at £35,000, and villas from £120,000, all based around a town protected by mountains, with adventure sports inland, golf courses near the town.
The last major resort is Alanya, 65 km further east.
Once you have found a suitable property you need to find an independent lawyer. Your lawyer should be shown all the relevant legal paperwork, the TAPU (title deeds) and Iskan (habitation licence) before you proceed any further. He will check the property can be sold to a non-Turkish buyer and discuss the basics of how and when you are going to pay for your property. Usually a holding deposit will be required, which varies according to the area and the seller, but is typically £2,000 to £3,000. A date for a full 10 to 30 per cent deposit will be agreed (less the holding deposit). You will need to get a tax number and open a bank account.
Typically, the buying process can take just eight weeks. BUT during 2013 legal changes are in the pipeline to drastically speed up title deed clearance. Many sellers will accept the balance of the asking price (70 to 90 per cent) once the process has been completed and deeds including Iskan are ready for issue. These terms will vary depending on whether you are buying a re-sale, new build or off-plan property.
Taxes, connection fees and buyer’s tax will also be payable at the deed issue time. The solicitor can then put all the payment items into a contract, with all the relevant legal sections to it including the interested parties’ details, payment plan details and legal references to the delivery of the property.
Once complete, the parties sign all the pages of a Turkish contract, which is translated into English by a licensed translator. Once this is done and the deposit received, your application papers will be sent for military clearance, before the deeds can then be issued into the buyer’s name. At this stage if you decide you are not returning to Turkey to sign for your deeds, you can get to a UK-based notary to appoint the lawyer to sign on your behalf for your deeds.
Buying costs will vary between regions of Turkey, but as a guide, allow for at least £500 for your Turkey-based legal fees. The Notary costs (including Power of Attorney) are from £200.
Property Purchase Tax (like stamp duty) will be 3.3 per cent of the total of the registered purchase price. Military approval costs from £125-500, and the Land Registry cost is £125. Estate agency fees for re-sale property are generally 3 per cent, and utility transfer fees from £150.
Buyers have been known to slip up, especially if they don’t have a truly independent lawyer who can do all the proper checks. Do not use one that is beholden to the developer.
For off-plan purchases, if the property is currently being built, only agree to make payments against actual delivery of the build, not an arbitrary date passing. Check who will be responsible for maintenance once you have purchased the property.