Istanbul's mansions on sale as Turks wrestle debt

Bosphorus Yali Istanbul

Elegant symbols of another relic, Istanbul's yali, or waterfront mansions, have long been stately homes for tourists and residents to admire. Now, many are on sale at bargain prices as their owners struggle to repay debts.

While the worst of Turkey's currency crisis has receded into the past, the echos are still being felt.

Thanks to a still-low lira, wealthy Turks are finding it a struggle to repay loans borrowed in foreign currency, and prices of some of Istanbul's top-tier properties have fallen as owners attempt to free up capital to repay debt.

This includes a number of historic yali, and currently, 52 of the Ottoman-era mansions that line the Bosphorus Strait are up for sale.

Some of the properties date back to the 17th century, when the mansions were known as Sahilhane, and were often holiday homes for the uber-wealthy.

Conversely, the low lira means owning a property in Istanbul is more attainable than ever to those with foreign currency, said Property Turkey director Cameron Deggin.

"Foreign buyers who have been waiting for a chance to dip their toes into the Istanbul real estate market are diving in head first," Deggin said.

While it wasn't often that yalis changed hands, Deggin has seen more interest in the historic properties, especially from Qatari buyers.

Yali Istanbul

While the yali are beautiful properties, the wooden mansions are susceptible to fires, and require frequent maintenance. Any changes made to the properties, even a coat of paint, must first be signed off by the Bosphorus Development Directorate. The red tape and the maintenance often puts buyers off, Deggin says.

"That and the price tag, which is $4m at their lowest," Deggin says.

However, for some buyers, the charm and elegance of a waterfront yali is worth any amount of money, or hassle. 

A high number of yali are currently unlisted for privacy reasons. However, if you'd like to find out more about these historic homes, contact [email protected].


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