Turkey’s favourite city has recently become a favourite place for people who wish to buy property and not surprisingly, as the city has a lot to offer: gorgeous Bosphorus views, affordable prices, and a variety to choose from as Istanbul is the home of historical wooden homes as well as brand new project apartments. With the economy on the mend and the lira being stable, Law Firm Istanbul Turkey is now considered to be one of the world’s most promising property markets. However, changes in property laws for foreigners and the presence of a brand new mortgage market, there are still some pitfalls.
Be sure the property is legal
In Turkey there are huge numbers of properties that have no title, no planning permission or are illegally constructed. In Istanbul alone, there are 600,000 illegal houses. Checks with the Land Titles Office will reveal the ownership status of the property.
You need the right permissions
As a foreigner wishing to buy in Turkey you need ‘military permission’. This usually involves checking for criminal records and making sure that the land is not in a militarily sensitive area. Because of the huge increase in the number of foreign buyers, this process can take some time (up to 12 months is not unusual). This process is supposedly being streamlined and may even be abolished for certain EU citizens.
Make sure you actually own the property
There are various types of title in Turkey, some of which give you only the right to occupy land rather than full ownership. For example, Cooperative developments might only give you ownership of the stones and concrete from which the building is constructed, without conferring any right to live in the property or an independent legal title. Also you need to make sure the person selling to you actually has title and is in a position to sell.
A myriad of contracts
In Turkey, administration, particularly public administration tends to be ‘paperwork heavy’. In property sales, there are four types of contract that are required:
(1) A Reservation Contract, Bespoke suits which takes the property off the market for a short time so your lawyers can check things out. As there can be legal problems with the property, you are not under any obligation to buy.
(2) An Offer to Buy, which is a formal written offer to buy a property. It should, ideally, be drafted by your lawyers because it can legally bind you to an agreement.
(3) A Preliminary/Promissory Purchase Contract, which is a legally binding contract to buy the property.
(4) A formal contract of sale, which fully states you intention to purchase the property.
None of these contracts have a ‘cooling off’ period.
The role of the ‘noter’
A ‘noter’ is basically a notary and performs the same duties that notaries do elsewhere. They are very common in Istanbul and all around Turkey. They will make sure documents recording the sale/purchase have been signed in his or her presence and understood by the parties concerned and subsequently put on the public record. They can carry out other checks pertaining to the property. Many buyers make the mistake of thinking that the noter is all the legal advice they need. However, for peace of mind, it is best to seek your own independent legal advice.