Turkey has been hit by a slew of terrorist attacks lately. The U.S. State Department has issued an advisory to its citizens against travelling to Turkey because of the growing threat from ISIS. Should you sell your property in Turkey, keeping this in mind?
First, let’s understand why Turkey is such a popular overseas property destination. Turkey is one of the most visited countries in the world and receives millions of tourists each year, including 22.5 million last year. Istanbul, the capital of Turkey is one of the oldest cities in the world, with a rich history and culture, and attracted 12.5 million tourists in 2015. Turkey’s tourism industry is worth $30 billion a year.
Turkey is also very popular as an overseas property destination. Foreign buyers purchased over 20,000 properties in Turkey in 2015. The fact the Turkish government is generally encouraging of foreign investment and has freed up the real estate sector in the country has certainly helped.
Russian buyers are among the biggest buyers of property here. Over 3 million Russians visit Turkey each year, mostly as tourists. Tens of thousands have bought homes here. Most Russians come to Turkey for the purpose of spending a vacation, but are attracted by the warm Mediterranean climate, the friendly people and the vast coastline.
The Russian expat community in Turkey is large and growing. Many earn a sizeable rental income from their properties in Turkey during the off season, when they are back home in Russia. With property prices in Istanbul increasing by 10% every year, there’s potentially a lot of money to be made.
Britons and Germans are also big buyers in Turkey. There’s a plenty of interest coming from Sweden, Norway, Belgium, Holland and France as well.
Wealthy Arabs have emerged as major investors in the country. Turkey is very popular in the Middle East, largely because of the similarities in culture and religion. Turkey is a secular Islamic country and has a free society. There are no restrictions on women in Turkey as there are in some countries in the Middle East such as Saudi Arabia. So a lot of Arabs have shown interest in relocating to Turkey or at least spending a part of the year there.
There’s interest from China as well. Over 300,000 Chinese visit Turkey as tourists each year and are very curious about the country. They appreciate the fact that Turkey is a largely stable country, economically and politically. Many Chinese have bought properties in Turkey. This is something we expect to see more of in the near-term future.
However, there’s a risk factor involved in buying properties in Turkey. There has been a spate of terrorist attacks on innocent civilians in Turkey. There was a suicide attack in a shopping district in Istanbul in March, 2016, which killed 35 people. This follows a series of bombings carried out since July, 2015, which have left hundreds dead and scores injured.
There’s a fear that the terrorists are deliberately targeting foreign nationals. Last week, the US embassy in Istanbul said that there was a credible threat to tourist areas in Istanbul and in Antalya. They sent an emergency message to all Americans tourists currently in Turkey as follows: "The US Mission in Turkey would like to inform US citizens that there are credible threats to tourist areas, in particular to public squares and docks in Istanbul and Antalya.”
Al Jazeera's Istanbul-based reporter Harry Fawcett, said that the terrorist attacks have kept the people in Turkey in a state of high alert: "There is heightened security, as there has been for many weeks now. There is a real sense of concern. There is no panic, people are still going about their daily lives, but the amount of foot traffic in places that would normally be much more congested is down. People are thinking twice about plans in terms of socialising, where to go and whether it makes sense to take certain risks."
Turkey faces multiple security threats, not just from ISIS terrorists that it’s fighting in Syria and Iraq as a part of the coalition led by the U.S., but it’s battling Kurdish fighters in the southeast, who want independence.