Don’t invest in Turkey before you read this
Since the turn of the century Turkey’s economy has grown substantially. Gross National Product has doubled, while GDP has also grown. The significant youth population is driving the economy - but they are also the ones behind the country’s recent unrest.
In this analysis we unpick the facts and uncover the good, the bad and the downright ugly when it comes to investing in Turkey.
PRO: The economy
This is the biggest factor for any would-be investor. Turkey’s economy is stable with a good outlook and a growth forecast of 3.4% for 2014. While many economies floundered during the global financial recession, the Turkish economy expanded by an impressive 9.2% in 2010 and 8.2% in 2011, becoming the fastest growing economy in Europe and one of the fastest growing in the world. The average household income has almost tripled in a decade, while during the same period the budget deficit decreased from more than 10% to less than 3%. Turkey’s income derives from a diverse range of sectors, including agriculture, finance, energy and tourism, which has contributed to its success. On a local level, the resort towns which are not solely reliant on tourism are the most successful - ergo, the best centres for investment. Antalya is at the forefront of the investment curve, with property prices in Antalya rising rapidly due to its strong local economy.
CON: Border trouble
ISIS fighting in Kobani brought warfare alarmingly close to Turkey’s Syrian border. Unrest has been quelled in Kobani, however, the situation in Syria remains precarious. Turkey is a vast country that borders eight countries in Europe and the Middle East, and it’s worth noting that the distance from the border nearest Kobani and Antalya, the closest Turkish tourist resort, is around 1000 kilometres - about the same distance as London to John O’Groats, the northernmost point of the United Kingdom.
Turkey’s location, sandwiched between Europe and the Middle East, has over centuries solidified its position as a crucial trading partner. In modern years the economic success that has risen from Turkey’s unique position has been encapsulated in its largest city, Istanbul, a centre for business and property development that shows no signs of slowing.
In the south of the country Turkey’s incredible Aegean and Mediterranean coastlines are attracting visitors from all over the world, making Turkey the third most popular holiday destination worldwide. Turkey’s unique coastal geography is becoming popular with sailors keen to explore the country’s 8000 kilometres of coastline.
PRO: Turkey’s young population
Turkey’s youthful population is educated and politically motivated. They’re the ones fuelling the economy and driving Turkey into a future where their country is globally recognised and prosperous. The proportion of young people to older is much higher than in most parts of Europe, which typically results in greater economic prosperity.
CON: Turkey’s young population
The same youth force that is propelling Turkey’s economy onto brighter and better things is also demanding change. Change from tyrannical laws exacted by Erdogan, and the same rights for their population as found in developed nations around the world. The 2013 protests that began in Istanbul and spilled out into other Turkish centres captivated the world and certainly made an impact that could not be said to be all positive. However, like young people world round this demographic is driving change, and we can only hope that their action will result in a better Turkey.
PRO: Away from the risky Eurozone
European Union countries are still wrestling with stagnation, with no growth at all over the last eight years. This year there are finally some green shoots and the economy of the European bloc is forecast to grow 1.7%. But it’s a long road ahead, and Turkey’s stronger economy is proving more attractive for investors at the present time, with a predicted growth of 3.4% for the year. Turkey’s economy is stable. So stable, in fact, that the global financial turmoil barely touched the country, which reported steady growth during the same period that Europe declined.
CON: Turkey’s EU membership
Turkey’s application to the European Union was made in 1987. Since then, the application has been blighted with problems, both domestic and external. The major stumbling block has been Cyprus - the long documented dispute between Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots over the annexion of the island. Talks have continually failed and the issue has proved to be a thorny one for Turkey. The past year has seen a renewed push towards accession, with the introduction of a “Positive agenda” designed to focus on common EU-Turkey interests and keep the accession process alive. The past few years have shown that entry to the EU carries with it a significant downside, so while Turks have been historically keen for their country to join Europe, numbers in favour have declined over the past decade.
PRO: Reasonable prices
Unlike other parts of the Mediterranean, it’s still possible to buy a large family home near the sea for a favourable price. In Fethiye, a three or four bedroom villa near Oludeniz Beach can be found for £120,000 - a far cry from comparable areas in France or Spain where properties are two or even three times as much. Prices have risen steadily over the past decade, which has paved the way to a healthy resale market, not to mention some very healthy capital gains for buyers past and present who recognise the value of investing early.
CON: Flight times
Investing in and travelling to Turkey takes a certain commitment. While you can fly from London to Nice or Magala in around three hours, a flight to Antalya, Bodrum or Fethiye is about five hours. For some, it’s a little far. For others, it’s not an issue. One positive, however, is that there are now more flights to Turkey than ever before, even during the off peak months of December and January.
CON: The language barrier
We English speakers are notoriously poor at learning the lingo of the countries we visit, and the Turkish language is not the easiest to learn. In the main centres most people you will need to deal with - bank tellers, stallholders, hoteliers, waiters - are perfectly adept in English. But once you head to the more remote villages and away from the coast you’ll find it difficult to communicate unless you know a few words of Turkish - or are particularly adept at using gestures.
CON: Conservative agenda?
While the 2013 protests were sparked by a development in Taksim Square, most of the protest anger was directed at President Erdogan’s increasingly conservative agenda. Erdogan’s opponents feel he has moved too far from his original vision, which was to make Turkey an economic powerhouse that was also in step with the Western world. Commentators are predicting a swing to the left for Turkey in a post-Erdogan era. But until then, Erdogan’s policies are not likely to affect the average investor in Turkey as he continues to take the country forward economically.
PRO: Healthy rental market
A number of investors are finding a way to supplement their investment by renting out their holiday homes. The summer season is a long one in Turkey, and with careful marketing the average holiday home will be in high demand. The “home away from home” phenomenon that is seeing holidaymakers eschew hotels in favour of more comfortable self catering accommodation has taken Turkey by storm. High spec, unique homes are especially in demand. In Antalya City, the rental market is slightly different. Investors often buy apartments that they then rent out to the many young professionals moving to the prosperous city for work each year. These investors earn a steady, reliable income independent of the season.
Investment always carries a certain risk, and therefore should be entered into on a case-by-case basis. Turkish property is no exception. If you’d like to know more about investing in Turkey please contact Cameron Deggin on + 44 (0) 20 8371 0059.