Turkey used to treat its property market rather like a playground squabble.
The law stated that if Turks were not allowed to buy
property in another country, that particular country's citizens were not
allowed to buy property in Turkey.
This made it almost impossible for some foreigners to buy property
and difficult for Turkey to attract foreign direct investment from the Gulf.
Because of this so-called reciprocity law, citizens of
most Arab countries, including the UAE, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Oman, Iraq and
Kuwait, were not allowed to buy property in Turkey.
That was until a few weeks ago, when the reciprocity law
was abolished, and estate agents in Turkey say they are now receiving floods of
inquiries from Arab nationals keen to buy in the country.
"We have got more than 2,000 inquiries [so far] this
year and we are expecting to have at least 10,000 inquiries this [full]
year," said Arda Obuz, the managing director of Turesta, a property sales,
management and consulting firm in Istanbul.
"[Arab nationals] love Istanbul, and Turkey is a
Muslim secular country, secure and democratic. Istanbul is a European city with
Muslim motifs, and they feel very comfortable in Istanbul," he said.
Mr Obuz said the process of buying a property in Turkey
was "remarkably straightforward" and that the transaction could be
completed within hours for domestic residents and two weeks for foreign buyers.
Turesta is looking to hire Arabic-speaking staff to manage
the number of inquiries from Arab nationals. Previously, foreigners would need
to seek special permission to buy more than 2.5 hectares, but this
limit has been increased to 30
"People are ready to buy all different properties,
especially by the seaside," said Sedat Gönüllüoglu, the Turkish tourism
and culture office's attaché in the UAE. "We are trying to organise work
permits and resident permits for people who buy properties."
Agents say Arab nationals are looking at properties for a
number of reasons, including buying holiday homes on the coast or as buy-to-let
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