In small groups of two or three, people are strolling along Yenikoy's wide promenade. The long walkway that skirts the wide sweep of the Bosphorus Strait has a front-row view to Istanbul's dramatic skyline, and some of the elegant Ottoman yalis that line this part of the waterfront.
Sariyer, a large district in Istanbul's north, has always been popular, explains Cameron Deggin. With its proximity to the shoreline, distance from the crowded central city, and leisure opportunities, it's generally targeted by families looking for space and fresh air, and young professionals with lifestyle on their minds.
But now, the district, which includes Emirgan, Resitpasa, Istinye, Yenikoy and Buyukdere, has seen a rise in the popularity of Istanbul seaside property, Deggin explains.
A covid seachange
"This year has seen people reassess their lives," Deggin says. "They're thinking hard about what's important, and for many people that means taking a step back from the churn of everyday life.
"Everybody that ever wanted to change their lives is doing it now. There has always been something holding them back, but now they've found the excuse to do it. If they wanted to move out of their country and look for new horizons, they’re doing it. If they always wanted to get away from the city, they’re doing it.”
In a time of quarantine, Deggin was hearing from his clients that getting outdoors was more critical than ever. "People are saying that during lockdown and when curfews were in place, being outside and getting exercise outside is essential for their health and well being. When you live in a crowded city this can be challenging."
A case in point: this year, when summer came to a close, many Istanbul residents chose to stay in their holiday homes. Summer resorts like Bodrum are experiencing a swell of winter guests, with shopkeepers and service workers benefitting from the money these overstayers are pumping into the local economy.
It's another indication of our need for breathing room, Deggin believes.
"This year has taught us the value of our own space. With social distancing becoming a new norm, we don't want to be in close proximity with others."
Affordable luxuryBodrum, Kalkan and Fethiye. But in Istanbul, where real estate prices are high, a private, detached villa is out of reach for most. But the alternative, affordable luxury property, is a valid - and increasingly popular - option for anyone needing some distance, he says.
Affordable luxury is a relatively new construction trend in Istanbul, Deggin explains. These are high-spec complexes with built-in lifestyle facilities like shopping malls, parks, hotels and proximity to transport. They're especially popular with young professionals entering the market: buyers who want top spec for an affordable price.
"Being close to everything you need is a must-have for buyers right now," he says. "When you have everything you need nearby: shops, cafes and parks, for example, you can eliminate the need to mix in large crowds."
Living close to the waterfront also meant opportunities for socially-distanced leisure activities. Running, walking, sailing or cycling are all popular activities for Bosphorus and shore-dwellers, Deggin says.
"The move to work from home has allowed people to cut ties with the central city," he explains. "With everyone on Zoom, there's no need to live near the office, or commute every day. It's giving people freedom of choice that hasn't existed until now."
But this means people are expecting more from their homes, a factor which is helping fuel the demand for affordable luxury for buyers in Istanbul.
"People want a decent office space, not just a squeezed corner of the room. They want design that's pleasant on the eye -- after all, if you're going to be spending time in your bubble, you want that bubble to feel like a happy and comfortable space to relax in."
What does this mean for property investors?
For a while, Deggin's number one piece of advice for would-be investors has been "think like a Turk". With Turks driving 95% of property sales, it's likely that when you come to sell your home, you'll be selling to someone from within the domestic market.
"Interest rates are low and home ownership is very attractive for young, professional Turks," Deggin says. "During covid, the demand to own a home grew: a home is seen as one of the few places where you can feel safe and secure. People who were previously happy living in rentals are taking advantage of the interest rates and borrowing conditions to make a move."
Nailing your exit strategy can be one of the hardest things to get right, Deggin says. "You have to be canny. Turkish buyers are selective, and their motivations might not be the same as yours.
"So if Turks are starting to look outside the box, buyers should do the same."
For more information about real estate trends in Turkey, contact Property Turkey.
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