Brexit uncertainty drives Turkey citizenship queries
A week of turmoil for UK politics has had an unexpected side effect in Turkey, with Brits making queries about gaining a Turkish passport. Property Turkey director Cameron Deggin said he’d received a “higher than usual” number of queries from British citizens asking about Turkish citizenship and how to invest in Turkey this week.
Last week, Theresa May’s Brexit deal was roundly rejected by MPs, who voted by 432 votes to 202 to reject the deal, which May had worked on for two years. The Conservative Party is now bitterly divided, and Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has now tabled a no confidence vote in the government, which could lead to a general election.
Deggin said although this isn’t the first wave of interest in Turkey following 2016’s referendum, when Brits voted to leave the EU. However, the enquiries now had a different focus. “This time round, everyone’s asking the same question: how can I get a Turkish passport?”
Last year, the Turkish government lowered the minimum investment threshold required for gaining Turkish citizenship from US$1m to $250,000. Deggin said the move precipitated a flurry of property enquiries from people all over the planet wanting to know more. “When you couple that interest with the dissatisfaction many people feel about Brexit, a move to Turkey, or at least the chance to gain a second home, it’s not surprising to see more interest.”
UK property investment falling
As price growth slows in former property hotspots like London, the British housing market is no longer the enticing prospect it was before 2016. Buy-to-let investors are stymied by new taxes and regulations, while mortgage affordability remains low.
A few months ago, Bank of England’s governor warned that house prices could drop by a third following a no-deal Brexit in March. So it’s little surprise that there’s been a drop in foreign investment as investors, both from the UK and abroad, are looking for alternative destinations in which to channel capital. In contrast, interest in Turkish property is higher than ever.
According to the Turkish Statistical Institute, almost 40,000 foreign investors bought Turkish property last year, the highest number on record and almost double that of 2017. A large proportion of these were bought in the last quarter, after the change to the citizenship threshold.
Deggin predicts 2019 will be a bumper year. “We’re experiencing a healthy start to the year, with enquiries from all over the world,” he said.
As well as prospective UK buyers, he’s fielding calls from investors from all over the Middle East, Russia, Northern Europe, as well as new markets like China and the US.
A place in the sun endures
While most investors channel their capital into Istanbul, Turkey’s largest and fastest-moving real estate market, Deggin points out that there’s been a resurgence in interest in Turkey’s south coast amongst lifestyle buyers. Now, these buyers have the added chance to get a passport along with their summer home for sale in Turkey.
“Bodrum, Fethiye, Kalkan - these are all traditional favourites with British and European buyers. We saw greater numbers buying there last year thanks to the devaluation of the lira, which gave buyers with pounds or euros in their pocket a hefty discount on a place in the sun. This year, with the added bonus of citizenship, we're expecting a rise in the number of buyers who want a more permanent commitment to a seasonal home.”
Deggin estimated that properties in these Mediterranean hotspots were still around 25 percent what they were this time last year. “But this opportunity is dwindling,” he said. “The lira prices are creeping up, and the currency itself will recover."