Turkey has a rich, ancient and wonderful history. It also has an impressive cultural heritage. As if this wasn’t enough, international buyers and property investors love the gorgeous weather, exquisite beaches and crystal-blue waters. At the same time, for many Western property buyers the Turkish property purchase process is a huge unknown. In this article we’ll cover some of the key points that international buyers should be aware of.
How and where can I buy property in Turkey?
It is much easier to buy a home in Turkey than in many other European countries. In general, the Turkish government is very supportive of international real estate investment. The conveyancing process is also reasonably straightforward with a quick turnaround, which makes it attractive to investors. Title deeds are delivered in 4-6 weeks, which compared to other countries is remarkably quick.
Another key factor Turkey’s global real estate success is the fact that the government allows citizenship by property investment. Property buyers must invest at least $250,000 in property, and keep it for at least three years. Then they can apply for Turkish citizenship.
Property Purchase Procedure
Stage 1 – Find a Property
For international property investors, particularly those from the Middle East, Istanbul is hugely sought-after. British buyers tend to buy in Turkey as a lifestyle choice. Brits focus on coastal resorts along the Aegean and Mediterranean such as Fethiye, Dalyan, Antalya and Kalkan.
Typically, the majority of property purchased in Turkey are relatively modern or new-build. Contemporary, open-plan apartment and villas, with communal or private outdoor areas and swimming pools are common across many parts of Turkey.
Stage 2 – Initial Sales Documentation
When you have found your dream holiday home or investment property, your agent or developer will draw up the initial sales documentation. This really starts the Turkish property purchase process.
This documentation will include key details about the purchase, including the amount of your holding deposit, and dates by which the full deposit and balance to pay. Typically the government’s notary offices are able to provide a translator.
Stage 3 – Identity Checks
The legal translator will take the buyer’s passports to the Notary for translation. It is possible to get them translated and Notarised in advance, but some Notaries or Solicitors may not accept. It is necessary for security and property checks, after which passports are given back to the buyer.
Stage 4 – Activate the Solicitor
Usually the agent or developer will take the sales contract to a local solicitor.
In Turkey, the solicitor is responsible for handling the conveyancing of the property. This will include overseeing the TAPU (title deeds) and Iskan (habitation licence) as well as preparing and executing the contracts.
The Iskan is a technical document which contains all the information about the property including number of floors, floor area, indoor infrastructure etc.
The TAPU are the title deeds which will show your official ownership of the property, as well as any previous owners. It is critical to make sure that the names of the owners on the TAPU match the names of your sellers! The TAPU will include the owner’s photograph and an official stamp.
Don’t worry, you won’t have to do this verification – that is what your solicitor will do. He or she will also do standard due diligence as part of the Turkish property purchase process and ensure there are no debts on the property.
The buyers and the sellers will then sign the contract, and then the solicitor and translator will witness the contract
Stage 5 – Holding Deposit
So, the contract is signed. What next?
Now it is time to hand over some money, known as a holding deposit. The amount is at the agent’s discretion and can be proportionate to the price of the property, but in any even the minimum deposit is usually around £1000 or equivalent.
A date will then be set for payment of the full deposit, which is usually 1-2% of the net purchase price.
Stage 6 – Title Searches and Checks
As with most countries, in order to acquire the title for a property, an application is submitted to the local Land Registry. After the solicitor has completed the searches and checks on the Turkish property, the actual transfer of title is done by the Land Registry office.
In Turkey is it compulsory for both parties to the sale to be present at the final signing.
Stage 7 – Taxes and Charges
At this time some more funds need to be transferred. All taxes and charges need to be paid. If you have bought a property through an agency you will need to pay their fees which are typically 2% to 3% of the net purchase price. The buyer will also need to pay stamp duty/purchase tax which amounts to 3% of the formal assessed value (which will be 60% of the purchase price).
Stage 8 – Final Stage
Congratulations – you now own a property in Turkey!
Once the process is complete you will receive your title deed (TAPU).
You’ll have to register with the local tax office and also open a Turkish bank account in order that your taxes, utilities etc can be set up from that account.
Opening a bank account is relatively straightforward. You will need the original of your passport plus another form of id with your home address on in the country where you live. This could be a utilities bill, council tax bill or driving licence.
You’ll be given your tax reference number. Armed with all of this new information you will need to contact the local municipality and register the fact you now own property in their jurisdiction.