Istanbul is home to some of the world´s most prestigious real estate, with multi-million dollar property deals being done every day. The sale of a luxury Istanbul mansion is generally par for the course, generating little more than a passing comment.
However, when the property is the Erbilgin Yali, the country's most expensive mansion, and the client is Middle Eastern royalty, people tend to sit up and take notice.
Turkey's priciest home, an Historic Bosporus Yali (waterfront mansion), sold this month for 100 million Euros, a staggering sum even in a city where property prices are some of the most fastest-growing in the world.
So who was the buyer? On paper, the mansion was sold to a real estate company owned by Qatari businessman Abdulhadi Mana Al-Hajri, making Al-Hajri the official owner. But the real buyer behind the transaction is Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad, the current Emir of Qatar and the eighth Emir of the Al-Thani dynasty that has reigned since 1850. Sheikh Tamim is married to Sheikha Anoud bint Mana al-Hajri - the real estate mogul's daughter.
The young monarch
At 34 years old, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad is the world´s youngest ruling monarch, following the abdication of his father in 2013. And with a net worth of $2 billion, he's also one of the wealthiest.
Sheikh Tamim heads the Qatar Investment Authority, which has shares in Barclays Bank, Sainsbury's and Harrods. It also has a stake in London's Shard, currently Europe's tallest building.
Love at first sight
Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad visited Turkey on March 12 with his family. While he met with President Erdogan, his wife and children saw the city sights. It was during this tour that the Sheikh's wife spotted the Erbilginler Yalisi and instantly fell in love. It has been reported that the Sheikh agreed to buy the property as a gift for his 25-year-old wife.
The Erbilginler Yalisi
Located on the banks of the Bosporus Strait in Istanbul's Yenikoy district, the waterfront mansion known as the Erbilginler Yalisi was last year listed by Forbes Magazine as the fourth most expensive residence on the planet.
The 2800 square metre home sits on a 5800 square metre plot, with 64 rooms filled - not unexpectedly - with the most opulently presented interiors imaginable, including crystal chandeliers, gilded moldings and huge windows overlooking the Bosporus and the property´s private quay.
The mansion originally known as Sehzade Burhanettin Efendi Yalisi has had royal owners before. Sultan Abdulhamid II's son, Sehzade Burhanettin Efendi, who gave the property its name, acquired the property in 1911, and later it was sold to the Erbilginler family, who renovated the property and gave the mansion the moniker by which it's known today.
Fast-rising prices and Istanbul’s jewels
Property prices in Turkey rose the second-fastest of any country in the world last year, with an overall increase of 14 percent, according to real estate consultancy Knight Frank.
Ireland, where recovery after dire economic straits is causing a sharp spike in property prices, took the top spot with 15 percent, but Turkey's sales have remained steady throughout the past decade or so, thanks to a consistently high-performing economy. Istanbul is right at the front of the curve, home to the most expensive real estate in the country. This is due in part to foreign investment, particularly by buyers from the Middle East, who are the leading buyers of luxury Istanbul property.
Gulf nations buyers are turning their attentions to luxury homes and lucrative buy-to-lets in the city´s most upmarket areas such as Bebek, Sisli, Maslak, Mecidiyekoy, Arnavutkoy, Istinye and other Bosporus districts. Prices in these Bosporus districts of Istanbul can carry eye-watering price tags in multiples of millions for sea view apartments and luxury penthouses. “Certainly not all buyers have deep enough pockets to afford Istanbul’s jewels” says Cameron Deggin of Property Turkey.
“Far more affordable, yet still not compromising on facilities and luxury, are newly built satellite towns of Istanbul such as Bahcesehir, Beylikduzu and Esenyurt”, says Cameron Deggin. These areas are seeing huge rises in the construction of branded residences - projects that are deeply attractive to Middle Eastern buyers, who are after affordable housing in Istanbul.
As a result of rising interest from Gulf buyers, infrastructure has responded, stepping up flights - there are now 18 flights between Saudi Arabia and Istanbul Ataturk per week, for example - and there are a number of investment expos being held in the city and in Middle Eastern cities.
It's clear that for buyers from the Middle East, Istanbul is not only a place to see and be seen - but a sound investment destination, and home to some of the world's best property.
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