Overseas property

Tranio client's first-person account of buying an apartment in Antalya

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Antalya beach
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I should warn you, my deal took place during a time of rapid change, not only in foreign policy and economics, but also in my personal life. Over the past 6 months, I have managed to do the following: decide against buying an apartment in Turkey; change my mind and buy it under the influence of external circumstances; change my plans for this apartment; get a job in another country (not Turkey). Despite the changes, I tried to act in a balanced way at every step, so the investment, in my opinion, was an overall success. But first things first.

Episode 1, in which I did not dare to buy an apartment in Turkey in December 2021

I have been a software developer for 10 years and have been saving money for several years. I placed my savings on foreign currency deposits or invested through the stock market in shares of companies.

In December, against the backdrop of foreign policy and global economic tensions, stock quotes of many companies crept down and uncertainty began to spread in the stock market. Additionally, the dollar and euro’s rates of inflation increased. I began to consider more conservative assets, such as real estate. I already had an apartment in Moscow, so I did not consider it appropriate to invest in another one: the stock market taught me to diversify risks, including country risks.

I did not want to keep all my capital in one country and in one currency. However, I did not have an understanding of foreign real estate markets. And getting a grasp on real estate taxes in a foreign country seemed like a fulltime job in its own right. Turkey got my attention. I learned that on the one hand, real estate there was on the rise: demand was increasing and prices were rising. On the other hand, the Turkish lira was rapidly falling against the US dollar, and theoretically it was possible to gain on this exchange rate instability and buy real estate profitably.

Property for sale in Turkey 4,727 listings on Tranio

At the end of 2021, the growth rate of property prices in Turkey began to accelerate: from a stable 3–5% to 6–9% per month. Since the beginning of 2022, those rates have increased even more — up to 9–14% per month (according to the Central Bank of Turkey). At the same time, the growth rate of real estate prices outpaces the rate of inflation and depreciation of the Turkish lira. The year-on-year prices’ growth in March 2022 was 29% in real terms, adjusted for inflation.

The foreigners’ demand for real estate in Turkey has indeed grown by an average of 50% over Q4 2021 and Q1 2022, but the share of foreigners' deals with Turkish real estate relative to the total number of deals remains stable at 4–5%. This means that the biggest contribution to increased demand is made by local residents. In conditions of high inflation of the national currency, real estate becomes their main asset and a way to protect capital.

I began my independent search for available properties on the Mediterranean coast near the Mahmutlar region beside Alanya. This place was recommended to me by my friends. It turned out that in coastal areas, prices for new real estate were denominated in euro, less often in US dollars, but not in Turkish liras, so I would not be able to profit on the exchange rate difference. And so I put the idea of Turkish real estate on the back burner, believing that the risks in the stock market were not high enough to start a reshuffle.

Episode 2, in which I was protecting capital from risks in March 2022

At the end of February, it became clear that I had a few days at most to manage my capital according to the old market rules as no one had any idea what would happen next. New sanctions and restrictions were being introduced in bundles each day and the rules on foreign exchange transactions were changing. It was because of this uncertainty that the risks increased. It was necessary to act quickly, so I returned to my most thought of scenario — Turkish real estate. Especially since there were no other options besides Dubai and Turkey left. With a budget of about 85,000 US dollars, Dubai was out of the question, so the choice became obvious.

At first I thought about visiting Turkey and searching for suitable properties myself, but I quickly realised that it was dangerous to buy in an unfamiliar country and market. After all, I would have to transfer tens of thousands of dollars, without having time to make sure that I was doing everything right. It seemed safer to contact a Russian company with experience in foreign markets. I had no one to consult with, so I went searching online. I found a lot of companies I knew nothing about. In order to avoid mistakes, I began to look for mentions of these companies in industry articles of reputable business titles such as Kommersant and Vedomosti. Tranio was frequently mentioned, even in old articles from 2014–2016. The logic was simple: if these titles were interested in Tranio's opinion on what was happening on foreign real estate markets, then I could count on getting reliable recommendations as well. And I was right. Sales manager Maria arranged a meeting for me with two trusted Tranio partners in Alanya: a sales office of one of the developers and a real estate agency.

On 5 March I flew to Alanya and went to look at the properties suitable for my request with the developer’s representative Gulnara. We looked not only at the projects of this developer, but also their partners. Finally, I made my pick and chose a project with good prospects: a three-room apartment in a residential complex under construction in the village of Demirtas, between Alanya and Gazipasa Airport. I learned that the village was being actively built up. Gulnara said that 40 large plots of land had been allocated in the village for multi-storey residential development.

In 5 years this place will become lively and there is a great potential for price growth. At the moment, it was quiet there, which was an advantage for me: I was going to live in my apartment from time to time and work remotely. I also planned to invite friends and relatives to live there for a small fee to recoup the maintenance costs, so that the apartment would not stay empty for long periods of time. The residential complex was located two kilometres from the sea and greatly resembled a hotel in terms of available services. It had a fenced area, outdoor and indoor swimming pools, a sauna and other delights for living and relaxing. The only difference was the lack of a breakfast service. 3 of the 5 buildings in the complex were occupied 3 years ago, in the other two, finishing was being completed. I made sure that there were actual people living in the residential complex, and that the entire infrastructure worked fine.

Apartments for sale in Alanya 1,124 listings on Tranio

Aleksey's expectations regarding the investment prospects of his purchase and the development of the area are justified. The province of Antalya is currently being built up at a record pace. This is evident from the building permits’ statistics: 1,278 building permits were issued in Antalya in Q1 2022, which is only 2.2 times less than in the province of Istanbul, although Istanbul is 6 times larger in population than Antalya.

Property prices in Antalya are rising significantly faster than the national average, and rental rates are rising faster than anywhere else in Turkey, climbing to 278% per annum, while the average is 120% (in Turkish liras; according to ENDEKSA’s data for April 2022).

The management company of the complex assured me that the maintenance of my apartment would cost no more than 2,000 Turkish liras per month (approx. 800–1,000 euro per year), including utility bills and aidat (a monthly payment to the management company for the maintenance of common facilities and services).

I took this photo in March.

Later, I learned that there were properties on the coast, intended exclusively for short-term rentals through a management company with an offer to receive a yield of up to 7% per annum in euro. Although interesting from an investment point of view, I would not buy such an object: firstly, I wanted to come to my apartment myself and invite friends and relatives, and secondly, there was no time to gain insight on guarantees of profitability.

The deal was made quickly: only 2 weeks passed from the moment of the first application to the payment of the deposit.

Maria Alkhazova Maria Alkhazova Tranio’s manager

Episode 3, in which not all banks were agreeing to transfer a payment in March

During my first visit in early March, I paid for the booking and signed the sales contract. I was issued an invoice and returned to Moscow to prepare money to pay the entire cost of the apartment — 74,500 euro. At that time, no one had an unambiguous understanding of how to pay, including banks, although there were no formal restrictions on transfers to Turkey in order to pay for real estate. Until the very end, I was afraid that this opportunity would be closed. We had to act blindly. Maria helped a lot: she shared the experience of her other clients who bought property in Turkey at the same time as me. That’s how I met Sergey. Together we looked for ways to pay. Sergey issued a power of attorney for a lawyer through the consulate and was not afraid to close the deal completely remotely, perhaps because he is a tax lawyer by profession.

Although there were no legal restrictions on bank transfers to pay for property in Turkey, in practice, each transaction had to be acted upon empirically: some banks refused to make transfers for their own internal reasons, others were simply disconnected from SWIFT.

Therefore, the payment was one of the most difficult steps for the clients. We tried to consolidate the experience of our clients to determine the best options.

Maria Alkhazova Maria Alkhazova Tranio’s manager

Some banks had maximum transfer limits, coincidentally the same ones where I had brokerage accounts. Other banks, mostly European ones, were wary of making transfers due to tight internal compliance as well as the new and still unsettled exchange control rules. I spent two weeks transferring money from bank to bank. Finally, at the end of March, Tinkoff Bank accepted the payment via SWIFT for processing, and 4 days later additionally requested a sales contract. 3 hours after I sent them the contract, the payment finally went through.

I transferred money in dollars, and the receiving party converted them first into liras, according to Turkish law about foreigners' transactions with Turkish real estate, and then into euro, since the cost of an apartment was denominated in euro. I lost about 500 euro on this conversion.

Episode 4, in which I became the owner and received a residence permit

For my next visit in mid-April, my agent and the developer's lawyers prepared a package of documents for registering the ownership of the apartment in the cadastral office. A few days later I received TAPU and became the full owner. While my apartment is being renovated and furnished, I have been living in the tourist area of Alanya for the second month, waiting for the 60-day visa-free stay to expire. With TAPU in hand, I applied for a residence permit in Turkey and after 3 weeks I received an ikamet card. This document is my identity card in Turkey for the entire duration of the residence permit. Now I can stay in Turkey without restrictions. The entire service associated with the choice, purchase, paperwork and even assistance in obtaining a residence permit was included in the cost of my purchase. I did not pay anything on top of that, except for the fee for the documents’ translation and notary services. Now the agency is helping me open accounts in resource-supplying organisations to pay utility bills.

According to Turkish law, real estate transactions must be carried out in the presence of a licensed real estate agent, whose activities and rates are regulated by the Cadastral Office.

The brokerage commission in Turkey — unlike most European countries — is paid by the seller, not the buyer.

Maria Alkhazova Maria Alkhazova Tranio’s manager

If I chose to rent out my apartment, I would need a Turkish bank account. Not all banks opened accounts for Russians without a residence permit back then. From what I managed to find out, in April this was possible at Deniz Bank.

This required a Turkish tax number (issued online using the international passport number), a deposit of 10,000 Turkish liras, which cannot be spent within a month, a commission of 700–800 Turkish liras, and a copy of the registration page from the Russian internal passport. By the way, you can link your Internet banking to a Russian phone number. With a Turkish residence permit, you can open an account with any bank in Turkey.

At the moment, no Turkish bank opens accounts for Russians without residence permits.

In Alanya I use the MIR card of a Russian bank. In shops and gas stations with terminals of the popular banks, such as Ziraat, Turkye Bankasi and Isbank, you can pay with this card. But one cannot do without cash here as not all banks work with the MIR system. You can withdraw money from ATMs of these banks without any problems though. The Russian rouble exchange rate is now greatly strengthened in Turkey. In May, the Turkish lira cost about 3.7 Russian roubles; it was possible to withdraw at the rate of about 4. In comparison, in mid-March, ATMs issued the lira for 10–13 roubles. It all depends on the US dollar’s exchange rate. The Turkish lira sank during this time, while the Russian rouble, on the contrary, strengthened.

Episode 5, in which I reevaluate my purchase after purchasing it

The irony of my situation is that during this short period of time my plans have changed dramatically. I will soon move to a permanent place of work in Bulgaria. It turns out that I don't really need a Turkish residence permit anymore and I will not be able to visit my new apartment often. However, it is still nice to have a safety cushion of a Turkish residence permit, according to which you can live almost on an equal footing with citizens of the country and even open a business. If I had to choose a property with my new circumstances in mind, I would still choose Turkey. Except that I would look for properties for short-term rental with a guaranteed yield.

Nevertheless, I am satisfied with my investment: there is no such uncertainty anymore, and I have become calmer. In the foreign policy context, I consider Turkey a stable country due to its dependence on international tourism, which employs millions of people. It is beneficial for Turkey to keep its balance in foreign policy waters and maintain good relations with other countries. Turkey's favourable geographic location makes the country a link between Europe and Asia with extensive trade and international maritime and land logistics. I think it is unlikely that relations between Turkey and Russia will deteriorate.

As of July 2022, the Turkish Ministry of Culture and Tourism reported a 53% increase in tourist flow compared to the same period in 2021.

Russia is one of the top 5 countries with the largest number of tourists in Turkey along with Germany, Bulgaria, Netherlands and the UK. Turkey has received more than 23 million tourists by the end of July, double the amount of the previous year.

At the same time, I understand that markets develop in cycles. Now real estate in Turkey is becoming more expensive, the demand is high, in particular among Russians. Gulnara said that she alone sold 6 apartments to Russians in Alanya and its surrounding area in one month, and there are many agents there.

In July 2022, Russians bought 1,028 residential properties in Turkey, this is 2.8 times more than in the same period last year. According to the Turkish Statistical Institute (TUIK), Russians rank first among foreign buyers of Turkish property with a share of almost 26% of the total number of transactions.

Graph - Deals in Turkey

I think that in 1.5–2 years the situation may change in the opposite direction: there will be either stagnation or a recession, and then I will have to wait another 10 years until the next rise so that I can sell profitably. I don’t know yet when I will sell, I will focus on the state of the market, there is nowhere to rush.

What I could do, I did: I chose a promising object in a promising area. Perhaps I will rent out this apartment on a long-term basis to local residents through the management company of the residential complex.

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