Would-be investors of property in Turkey often run into problems when they begin their due diligence. While there's lots of information to wade through, conversely, there is often limited information in English. So how do you know which way to go?
Property Turkey director Cameron Deggin empathises with new investors. "There's certainly a lot to learn," he says. However, there are a few things you can do to ensure you find the right investment - and the right agent.
Be clear on what you want
"We've been in the market since 2001; we've had many years of meeting and assisting hundreds or thousands of clients," Deggin says.
"The most successful clients, who end up achieving what they set out to achieve, are planners." To do that, they need to make a decision as to where they want to invest, he says.
"Turkey is an 82m population country, as a landmass it's probably five times the size of the UK, we're talking about a very large country. Within this country there are micro-cultures: there are huge differences between areas socially and geographically.
"We do get some potential buyers who call us and say, 'I want to come to Istanbul, spend two days there, spend two days in Antalya, then spend a day in Bodrum, then decide. In 20 years I don't think I've seen a single individual who has done that and managed to buy anything."
Investors need to be completely clear on what they want.
"Where do you start? Istanbul, a 20m metropole; or do you invest in a place like Bodrum, which is a lovely elegant seaside resort? Or Fethiye, quite a local traditional seaside resort, or do you go to Antalya which is in between a town and city, with its 1.1m pop."
"This is controversial," Deggin says. "A lot of consultants will hate me saying this, but if you're doing your research on areas, the last place to do this research is websites or real estate companies." That's because the vast majority of real estate agents in Turkey are regional, he explains.
"They sell either in Istanbul, or Fethiye, or Bodrum, although on their website you may see a combination of areas, but these are just there for search engines."
Deggin suggests looking at an array of resources from tour operator websites, to accounts of people's experiences in different areas. "There is so much information out there that will give you different ideas about Turkey."
Know your budget
Without knowing your cash budget, you won't get too far in your planning, Deggin says. "There's no point in looking at websites unless you know what you can and can't afford. That's your cash budget: how much you have to put down, as well as what you can afford in monthly instalments."
How to find the right real estate agent?
"That's a tough one," Deggin says.
"When you search for 'property for sale in Turkey', you'll come up with pages and pages of information. Hundreds of companies that offer properties in Turkey. As many as 90% will not be good agents - so how do you know who to approach?"
Deggin has a few tips:
- Read the testimonials: "OK, there are fakes, but still read them. Look out for the dates of the testimonials, look how far back they go. How established they are."
- Check for media coverage: "type the name of the company and the directors into Google and look to see if they feature in news media, like Financial Times, New York Times, or the Telegraph. They are clues as to how reputable and well established a company is."
- Visit their offices, if possible: "See who they are, do your due diligence."
Transparency is key
"Being open and honest with clients is key," Deggin says. It is no secret his company is in business to make profits, he said. To do this, they charge a client fee, although the bulk of earnings comes from sellers and developers, he says.
For clients to accept handing over their hard-earned money, Property Turkey worked to add value. "That's good service: getting the best price and terms, and the best value for money for our clients; that's our job and our target. I'm happy when we achieve that with our clients."
Many buyers don't realise that in Turkey, where there is no sole agency model.
"A good agent that has been around for a long while, they will have everything in their portfolio," he says.
Potential buyers should not make the mistake of setting up appointments with several agents, a move that sets them up for failure. Building a client-agent rapport is all important, he emphasises. "A good agent can give you good advice and guidance but needs to build a bond with you. As a buyer, go for rapport building rather than quantity of agents.
"By seeing many agents, you're not going to have access to a better portfolio, you are cutting into that rapport building. The longer time you spend with one agent, the right agent, the better rapport you build.
"At the end of the day, we're all human beings. For us, friendship and trust are important. When we feel we have a close rapport we are going to go the extra mile to help them.
"If we only see a potential buyer for a half day, that's just a number for us.
"My number one advice is, do not sacrifice a good rapport for quantity of agencies."
Read more: How to invest in Turkey
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