A change in Turkish law means that foreigners buying property in Turkey will automatically receive a residence permit for a year and buyers couldn't be happier.
Previously, foreigners buying property were treated like short term visitors, receiving a three month tourist visa. Many found that this left them scrambling to apply for a residency permit at the end of their tourist stay, an often stressful race against time which saw new residents scrambling to navigate an unfamiliar bureaucratic process.
By making it easier for foreign buyers to settle into their new home, the Turkish government hopes to encourage a boost in Turkish property sales, taking the volume up to as much as USD1 billion each year.
This is the latest action in a series of measures by the government designed to open up Turkey's property market to foreign buyers. Last May obstacles were removed for citizens of a number of Middle Eastern and Central Asian countries, who are now freely able to buy property in Turkey without restriction.
According to the Environment and Urban Planning Ministry, almost 11,000 properties have been bought since last May's law change. In May alone, foreign buyers snapped up USD1.1 billion worth of Turkey real estate, four times the total amount purchased in 2011.
Middle Eastern buyers led the way, purchasing huge numbers of properties as well as a number of hotels all over Turkey's south coast and in Istanbul.
Zeeshan Hussein is one such potential buyer. The Saudi financial consultant tells us he is searching Istanbul for a 'safe investment and home outside of the Eurozone,' and the new residence permit scheme will be a huge help in establishing himself in his new base.
"The opportunities are endless," Hussein says. The 46 year old businessman is planning to divide his time between his family home in Riyadh and an apartment in central Istanbul. "Turkey's become very popular with Saudi buyers," he said, adding that his brother and his cousin have both recently made the move to Turkey. "The culture is similar which is useful but of course a great motivation for moving is to take advantage of the opportunities Istanbul has to offer."
Hussein says Istanbul's "super-economy" spurred him to set up a financial consultancy in the city to cater to the growing numbers of Arabs seeking to invest outside their own countries. "Istanbul is the now the first place Saudis think of when they consider investment. The possibilities are there for the taking."
Place Overseas director Cameron Deggin says the number of enquiries his company has had from Arabic buyers has tripled in the past year. He believes the similarity between Turkish and Arabic cultures goes some way to explaining Turkey's huge appeal to Arab buyers.
"Turkish and Arabic cultures are similar in many ways. Because values are quite similar there is a good understanding between the two parties," the property expert said.
Deggin says that news of the residency permit granted to new home buyers is "really exciting and a huge step."
"It removes a level of bureaucracy that made it slightly difficult to get established in a new country. I think it’s a really positive move and shows just how much Turkey is willing to open itself to the wider world."
Deggin is resoundingly optimistic that the past year's changes in the law has well and truly thrust Turkey into the international market. "No one can deny that Turkey is now a major competitor within the European property market."
Credit ratings agencies seem to agree with Deggin, with Standards & Poors and Moodys both raising their ratings for Turkey.
Although you'll now have nearly a year's grace before you'll need to start thinking about applying for your next residence permit, you might want to bookmark the below guide to obtaining your residence permit for the happy day when you'll need to start the process.
Guide to obtaining a residence permit in Turkey:
Foreign citizens may apply for a five year permit as long as they have a property title deed. If you are renting you may only apply for a three year permit.
You will need:
- parents' full names
- Turkish tax number (you should have a tax number after going through the property buying process)
- address and phone number
- 12 passport photos
- your property title deed or a rental agreement
- translated birth certificates of any children under 18
- a bank statement from either your home country or Turkish bank, showing that you have at least 3000 GBP (for a 5 yar visa).
- photocopies of the page of your passport showing your last entry, and also of your photograph page
- fees (note 1)
What to do:
- head to the main police station in your town
- show the officer your documents and state how long a permit you want. The officer will give you a docket to take to the tax office.
- go to the tax office, pay the fee, and take the receipt back to the police station.
- the officer will go over all the documents, fill in the relevant section, and give you an idea of how long your permit will take to be processed (usually around two weeks).
- when you return you must take your passport with you.
Note 1 - Fees - if this is your first application you'll need 198TL for a residency book and 6.5TL for the money transfer charge of your residence permit book fee. Fees are charged at a monthly rate. Fees for UK citizens are 60 Euros per year. Fees are charged at USD25 for one month and USD5 for every subsequent month. The total sum will be converted to Turkish Lira on the day using the official exchange rate.
If you have any questions, please get in touch and ask one of our consultants for clarification.