Russian, English and other European buyers have ranked as the top foreign customers for property in Turkey over the past year, according to a report by the Environment and Urban Planning Ministry released over the weekend.
Between May 2012 and May 2013, a total of 14,599 foreign buyers purchased 13,495 Turkish properties — joint purchases and time shares accounted for the lopsided numbers — the ministry report revealed. The southern coastal province of Mersin was most popular with foreign buyers, and was followed by the Aegean-side province of İzmir, while Yalova province, located on the Marmara sea, ranked third. The provinces of Bursa, Ankara, Trabzon, Çorum, Sakarya, Tekirdağ and Gaziantep followed respectively, while İstanbul curiously did not make the top 10.
The report said that Russians were the biggest buyers of property over the period, purchasing 2,313 properties. English buyers ranked second with 1,353 separate property purchases, while customers from Germany bought 1,350 properties over the year long period. The countries with the next highest number of buyers were Norway, Sweden, Belgium, the Netherlands, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia, respectively. The predominance of European buyers over Gulf state buyers comes contrary to reports that citizens of Arab nations are becoming Turkey’s biggest property buyers.
Though the ministry didn’t compare the scale of purchases made over the past year with sales in the 2011-2012 season, foreign property sales have grown markedly in Turkey amid an overhaul of laws governing property sales to foreigners. In August 2012, Parliament passed a law that expanded the number of nationalities allowed to purchase property “free of restrictions” in Turkey from 89 to 183. The ban has nevertheless maintained sweeping restrictions on foreigners from neighboring countries. The law bans Greek citizens from buying property in much of western Turkey, though the law exempts Greece’s Turkish population in western Thrace from those limitations. The law also forbids Bulgarians, Iranians, and Syrians from purchasing property in provinces bordering their home country.
Turkey overhauled its property laws earlier this year, with Parliament extending the legal period of residency offered to foreign property owners upon entry to Turkey from three months to one year, though the law also boosted taxes on foreign properties. Ankara has said it expects foreigners to invest as much as $300 billion in Turkish real estate over the next decade.
Turkey’s recent upgrade to investment grade by credit rating agency Moody’s may push property sales towards that ambitious number, Real Estate Investing Partners Association (GYODER) president Aziz Torun told real estate industry news site Emlakta Sondakika over the weekend. Construction group Ağaoğlu’s president Ali Ağaoğlu meanwhile told the site that sales might increase “15 to 20 percent” over the next year as a result of the upgrade.