Buying property in Turkey? Before parting with any money it is important that some straightforward steps are taken.
1. Select an independent lawyer
Select an independent lawyer who is registered with the Turkish Bar Association and ideally with a European Consulate, this will mean that they have been vetted and will have indemnity insurance. It should not be necessary to make a payment to your lawyer until his/her works are completed and the title deed is transferred into your names.
2. Check that the Title Deed is in an area where foreign nationals can buy.
Before paying a deposit, your Lawyer will check that the Title Deed is in an area where foreign nationals can buy and not restricted to Turkish nationals. Presuming this is okay then he/she will check the deed has no debts against it and that importantly it has a certificate of habitation, in Turkish (ISKAN), this is very important as this is the final document to confirm that the property was built in full compliance with the building permit granted. It is not enough to buy a property with just a deed you also need the habitation certificate. You could buy the property without it technically but a good lawyer would advise you against this, in fact a bank would not offer a buyer a mortgage on a property without an ISKAN and, whilst you might be a cash buyer one day, you may want to sell in the future and unless your property has an ISKAN, this will reduce your options and the value of the property.
3. Keep the Deposit as low as possible
Once all checks are complete and you and your lawyer are satisfied and you have achieved the price you are happy to pay, then usually a deposit is paid and a purchase agreement drafted. It is obviously sensible to try to keep the deposit as low as possible whilst the process is being followed.
4. Not all purchases require an approval by the Authorities
As a foreign national it is necessary to make an application to the authorities to take permission to buy, the authorities will be checking that the property is not in a restricted area and, through our earlier due diligence, we know that the said property is in an area available to foreign nationals. However, the Turkish authorities still need to approve it prior to completion. This process takes approximately 4 to 5 weeks to complete and then the buyer is free to transfer the deed into their names. There is an exception to this rule if on the same plot number, or in the same housing complex, another foreign national has had an application approved after May 2011, then there is no need for an application to be made and the buyer can go ahead straight away.
5. Provide your appointed lawyer with a POA (Power of Attorney)
It would be a good idea when in Turkey to at the local Notary office, this will enable your lawyer to act on your behalf in making the application to the authorities and to transfer the deed in to your name(s) and assist with the connection of utilities etc. The process of issuing the POA in Turkey is very straightforward, to do this individuals must have a tax number (ID number), this can be obtained immediately in the local tax office on presentation of a passport and in the presence of a sworn translator. The Notary can then prepare a straightforward POA giving your lawyer certain and restricted rights to act on your behalf. You can also send a POA from overseas but the procedure, time and expense make it very worthwhile doing whilst in Turkey.
6. Make the payment simultaneously with Deed transfer.
The final part of the process is to transfer ownership. This should be carried out simultaneously with the payment only being made as the deed is transferred in to your name(s). Our preferred method is that clients open their own bank account in Turkey and transfer enough funds for the purchase into their account. On the day of completion the buyer’s bank drafts a bankers cheque for the amount of the purchase/balance, this cheque is then handed over at the time of legal transfer by either the buyer in person (if they are here for the completion) under the lawyers guidance, or by the lawyer himself using his POA.
7. Work with your agent closely
Often a good agent can assist in the process, obviously from finding a suitable property in the first place, but also in terms of negotiating the price and the amount of deposit and highlighting any included items in addition to the property, or any agreed modifications and ensuring a smooth handover.
8. Ask questions.. lots of them!
In summary proceed at your own speed, ask lots of questions and feel satisfied throughout each step!