With its spectacular history, culture, nature and climate, Turkey has always been a desirable destination for many an expat to while away the years. These characteristics for leading a healthy and happy life are now more important than ever in this era of safely navigating through a global pandemic. However, it can be daunting to make the big move to another country and especially if you don’t know the language or where you are going to live. Luckily, I am here to give you some guidelines to get started on, if like me, what may be your lifelong dream.
How to find a home
The website sahibinden.com, which translates into English as “from the owner,” serves as an excellent resource to not only learn about what’s available and what the going rate of homes are in a particular area, but it also can remotely connect you with real estate agents specializing in certain zones. You can search for rentals as well as properties for sale by either typing in the province and district where you are looking, or you can utilize the nifty map function in which you can zoom in and out to get a helpful general glance at availability and prices to help you decide.
While the name of the website infers that the properties are listed by owners, keep in mind that in many cases it is actually real estate agents that are posting, but you can still use that to your advantage. First and foremost research the agents thoroughly to ensure they are reputable and certified as there have been cases of nonlicensed agents attempting to sell homes to foreigners. Once you can verify their legitimacy and have checked up on the agent through peer reviews, their website and office address, then make contact to describe your price point and requirements as they may have more listings on hand than they actually post. Keep in mind that the real estate agent’s commission rate, which is generally paid out by both the buyer and seller, generally ranges from 2 to 4% percent, but is negotiable and should be discussed with the agent during deliberations. Newspapers, such as Sabah’s Sarı Sayfalar, which means “Yellow Pages” also contain advertisements for properties up for sale.
Whether you are looking for a permanent residence or a holiday home, Turkey is a great place to invest for foreigners. (iStock Photo)
What makes a house a home
Homes in Turkey have three requirements: first, there must be a “tapu,” which is a title deed, “imar,” which is a building license and “iskan,” which is a habitation certificate. You do not actually want to dish out any money if you are unable to verify that the property contains all of the above. It is highly advisable to check with the Land Registry Office, Tapu Dairesi in Turkish, to make sure the property you are checking out is legal for purchase and that the deed does not have any outstanding fines or debts connected to it, such as an “ipotek,” which is a lien on the property that you would be liable for if purchased. In new builds, make sure the name of the title deed has been transferred to the contractor versus the landowner if that is who you are purchasing from and do not relinquish any funds and only pay for the property in full after the deed has officially been issued in your name. There are methods available by banks in Turkey to ensure funds are secure for both parties during the transaction process.
Having an “iskan,” which is a habitation certificate, proves that the home is habitable and has been built according to the required standards and earthquake regulations. This will make getting loans or setting up a mortgage on the property possible and is decipherable by the deed having a check in the box for “kat mülkiyeti,” which means property ownership vs. the “kat irtifakı,” which denotes ownership of a building that is not yet habitable.
Title deeds in Turkey come with either blue or red borders. Those with blue borders denote land or land including a detached home, while deeds with red borders refer to units in an apartment or housing complex, the latter of which is referred to as “site.” An important point to keep in mind when purchasing homes with red-bordered deeds is that in most cases there is a common monthly maintenance fee required to be paid by homeowners.
From village houses and villas to apartments, foreigners can buy any property they want in Turkey within legal restrictions. (iStock Photo)
What you will need to buy
There are a number of requirements for foreigners and otherwise to buy property in Turkey. First off and as of this year, it is compulsory to have an Energy Performance Certificate (in Turkish Enerji Kimlik Belgesi) which classifies said building’s energy efficiency. This is a new requirement that went into effect at the start of the year for house sales and purchases. You will also need to enroll for compulsory earthquake insurance (abbreviated DASK in Turkish) in order to receive necessities such as electricity and water.
If you plan to sell your property within five years of purchase, keep in mind that you will be subject to pay a capital gains tax, which is a low percentage calculated on the profit incurred. Those wanting to sell their homes will also need to have their property valued by a private company and will be subject to paying out 4% of the real value in taxes, thus putting an end to fibbing on the actual price paid for a property to avoid paying excessive taxes. If foreigners are purchasing the property on their own they will need a foreign identification number (yabancı kimlik numarası) as well as a translator and notarized translations of their passports, but it is also possible to give power of attorney, which would bypass the first two requirements. There is also the rare situation that a military clearance, which could take up to a month, might be necessary based on proximity to military bases or strategic locations. Foreigners intending to purchase land are also restricted to 30 hectares, and keep in mind there are strict regulations on being able to build on land here in Turkey and in July of this year, it was became prohibited to build a “hobby home” on agricultural land. Meanwhile, with the purchase of real estate amounting to the equivalent of $250,000 as of September 19, 2018, comes the ability to become a Turkish citizen so long as you do not sell said property for a duration of three years.
Last but certainly not least is that Your Key Turkey is a wonderfully informative website prepared by Turkey’s Ministry of Environment and Urban Planning General Directorate of Land Registry and Cadastre for foreign property buyers. The website is available in six different languages, namely English, German, Arabic, French, Russian and Spanish, and contains all of the necessary information and finer details on property purchasing in Turkey by foreigners. Check it out at www.yourkeyturkey.gov.tr.