The pulse of the market: Spring 2016 Istanbul

This is shaping up to be quite an unpredictable year for Istanbul property. Those familiar with the Istanbul real estate scene will know that this is not exactly a new phenomenon. One of the biggest surprises so far has been the dramatic crash of the Airbnb and short-term tourist rental market. In the past several years many people made extraordinary returns renting out their property in Istanbul to tourists on a short-term basis. This year, however, it is quite a different picture all together.

It is actually just a classic example of supply and demand  mismatch. There are a few other factors that are adding to it and exacerbating this seriousness of the decline. Unfortunately in the past years they’re just have been so many hotels built as well as so many Istanbul property owners who have looked to short-term rentals as a nice way to increase their overall yield on a property as well as to enable them to use it from time to time.

is this a new dawn for Istanbul property?

is this a new dawn for Istanbul property?

Several years ago I predicted that this was inevitable and I was surprised,in fact , that the good times went on for so long. I knew young people, often students, who were renting out flats for the purpose of sub letting them out to tourists. In fact, it became quite a trend. As the number of tourist rentals exponentially, the demand at the same time actually began to show signs of tapering off. Istanbul is a huge tourist draw and the number of tourists coming here yearly is breathtaking.

where have the Europeans gone?

These guys are taking a break from Istanbul

The issue is that the competition between hotels service Apartments grew while the number of tourists who opted for short term apartments actually decreased. Many tourists come from the Middle East and other regions of the world where the idea of renting somebody’s personal property is not widespread and, in fact, may even be considered  peculiar.

The European tourists are the ones who actually prefer the conveniences and flexibility offered by serviced Apartments. But their numbers have been declining for the past few years for a number of reasons.

I think that this is unlikely to change fundamentally over this short period. It looks like it will be a classic boom-and-bust cycle with the weaker operations getting weeded out and perhaps the stronger ones getting more market share as the others are forced out of the market. This could take a few years to play out. It’s not an overnight thing. The areas I am referring to are in downtown Istanbul so they are likely to rebound when the supply and demand issue works itself through the system.

What interests me more however is how it interacts with Istanbul property prices in the downtown area. The first thing that I noticed almost immediately in the past few months was that so many more properties in Istanbul came back onto the long-term rental market. It was literally a flood. And these are Apartments that have been well decorated, furnished and designed in order to appeal too wide range of tourists. The demand for rental properties in downtown Istanbul is pretty steady and strong. At the moment though this glut means that many properties that would usually be quickly snapped up remain empty for much longer then they would have been in the past.

Many Istanbul property owners are frustrated by this turn of events. Some have to pay mortgages and the lack of income generated no doubt creates stress. For this reason as well as many others it is not a big stretch of the imagination to conclude that quite a high number of those people will decide that it is time to cash in and sell their property in istanbul possibly in search of higher-yielding properties.

Is this all bad news? Not necessarily. The people who ran good short term rental businesses well may actually benefit from this in the future but they will have to be patient of course. The other very positive aspect is that house prices really have become artificially high in the downtown area. Many of the owners do not understand that the prices far exceeded affordability levels. Prices of $4,000 or $5,000 per square meter for properties with no particular outstanding features are just too high given the fact that interest rates are also very high.

This has created an environment where very few transactions are actually occurring. People involved in the market understood this well and were waiting for some event to break the log-jam. The dramatic free-fall being witnessed in the Airbnb scene looks to be exactly that catalyst.

Homeowners in downtown should not fret too much. Many of them have made exceptional returns and should be pleased with the investments they have made. Many also have  lovely properties and will not sell under any circumstances. And this in no way will cause a crash in prices. It will just mean that some people will make the rational decision to cash in on investments and perhaps try something new. This will create buying opportunities.
Over the mid to long-term, Istanbul is an exceptional place to own  property. Owners will just have to get used to the new reality and reduce their rental prices or their asking prices when looking to sell.

There are still enough buyers out there that they can certainly sell their properties to. Conversely, for new buyers it does represent an opportunity indeed. Also for many young people who have effectively been locked out of the market, this may be their moment to get on the ladder and own a home. In short the last few years represented a slow down in investments in the downtown area. What is happening these days may actually spur new investment, as investors see price levels that will be very tempting.

Being such a rapid and dramatic occurrence, I am very interested to speak with anyone connected to real estate in downtown, in order to brainstorm with a view to coming up with solutions to combat the adverse effects of this sudden new reality.

www.lilimont-istanbul-realestate.com

Carrefour on my street – Guest blog

I have been coming to Istanbul regularly since 2008 and even in that short period the changes are amazing. I recall being really pleased when the Belediye replaced the paving on our street, but that is nothing compared to some of the major changes that have happened. In less than ten years a metro has been built that can take me from Taksim to the airport and over to the Asian side, with a trip over the Halic on the way.

Metro on the Golden Horn

Metro on the Golden Horn

The infrastructure programmes have been amazing, and when compared with how slowly Crossrail has been built in London it makes me realise just how much has changed in a short period of time. The new crossing to the Asian side came in particularly useful to me when I accidentally booked a ferry ticket to Bursa from Kadikoy instead of Kabatas. The twenty minute journey to Kadikoy wasn’t anywhere near long enough however, for me to come up with a reason why this was my other half’s fault and not mine.

Regeneration comes in many forms, some good and some bad. Where I live in London has had extensive regeneration and I recognise a similar process in Istanbul. It makes buying a property here a slightly daunting prospect, as rapid change can make it difficult to know what will happen in an area, and one must just hope that the changes will be positive. Istanbul is a wonderfully comfortable city to visit, a good friend I love to see again and again. But like a friend who buys too many clothes, you can never be sure what you will see next and if you will like the most recent trend.

One of the biggest changes I have observed is the growth of what could be described as alternative lifestyles, more often than not described derisorily as ‘hipsterism’. Often seen cycling along the streets of Hackney in London, I see similar styles more and more in Istanbul. Turks make particularly fine hipsters as dark hair and high cheekbones really help to carry off the look and Turks are one of the few people who can get away with an ostentatious Ottoman style moustache.

Hairy guy

Hairy guy

At first hipsterism was confined to Cihangar, but soon the abundance of top nots and beards became too much for that small area and it began to spread it’s tentacles across Beyoglu. For a long time however, it seemed unable to get past the natural barrier that is Taralabasi boulevard. Not surprising, as that traffic can be a bit of a nightmare to cross at the best of times, never mind on a fixie. Eventually though the hipster tide broke down even that wall and I started to see hipster cafes everywhere. Well, I think they were cafes, but they might just have been really trendy people sat outside their house having a coffee.

Of course, there is nothing wrong with being a hipster, local organic vegetables and artisanal cheese is great and my male friends love being free of the tyranny of shaving. Istanbul is big enough to contain a wide cross section of people, including hipsters and hijab I teyzes in baggy trousers, this is part of what makes it an amazing city and why many of us want to own a property here.

And then one day, walking down Omer Hayyam, I smelt change in the air. Was it the Belediye fixing the street? Some hope there, Omer Hayyam is still a slippy slope in the slightest bit of wet weather. Maybe it’s those slightly uneven steps and nasty bins under the bridge. Perhaps it was a Starbucks, we all know there is no cap on the number of Starbucks that can exist in any one area. And then I saw it, like a beacon in the night. A Carrefour mini supermarket.

Carrefour on my street

Carrefour on my street

On Omer Hayyam. Just around the corner from my flat. My heart beat faster, could it be true? I peered in the window and there they were, hipsters shopping. And I knew that whatever happened to the area, we would be safe, as there was somewhere locally to buy milk. So thank you hipsters, your top nots might be daft but you’re brought Carrefour a bit closer to me.

Elections and a good Istanbul Property deal.

First of all, it would be hard not to mention the elections just past, which seemed to have fixed the attention of the entire country.

looking serious

looking serious

_83471165_e76a1016-7576-4c83-a0b2-1c5c912447b2

looks pleased with himself

The big surprise was that the AK party lost its majority and may need to form a coalition, something that has not happened in more than a decade.

The next 45 days look as if there will be a fair amount of uncertainty. Nonetheless, if the bickering that was so present during campaigning can be put aside, then there may be a resumption to a new kind of normal. Distant memories of weak and ineffective coalitions haunt the minds of many Turks, yet there is no reason to be sure that history will always repeat itself. Pessimism at this point is premature. As Abullah Gul wisely said, now is the time to focus on making things work. Indeed.

The first reaction of the markets seemed to indicate some panic and fear, but it has been far from free fall, suggesting that the sentiment is not as dire as it could have been. And voter turnout? Turkey must have one of the highest voting rates in the world, coming in at over a whopping 80%. That suggests that some parts of the democratic system are working just fine. Now if only the politicians could start being a little more collegial to one another!

As you may have noticed, from time to time we feature a property in the blog. Usually, we select this property in Istanbul carefully. Our criteria are essentially that it be an attractive property in some fashion and also makes for a good Istanbul investment vehicle.

This week, we are putting forth a one bedroom apartment just off Omer Hayam in The Aynali Cesme neighborhood.

pretty istanbul property

pretty istanbul property

This property in Istanbul was renovated from A to Z three years ago and remains in top condition. It is 65 square meters with an open kitchen plan and windows facing lively, colorful and vibrant Tarlabasi. In the evening sun, the view of dilapidated old Istanbul buildings in Tarlabasi is suffused with other-worldly hues. It really is a fantastic and nostalgic view for those appreciating this side of Istanbul life. feature-540x359

The asking price is 115,000 euro and it rents out strongly at 1500-1700 TL. It is also being offered with all furnishings. At a roughly 6-6.5 percent yield, this makes for an investment that provides immediate and steady returns. Being in a historical Istanbul building, the flat has high exposed vaulted ceilings and original wood flooring.

Galatasaray, at the midpoint on Istiklal, is a mere 5 minute walk.

This school has been around since the 15th century

Galatasaray school has been around since the 15th century

The price represents the entry level for properties in the area, so it is ideal for those seeking to take that first step on the Istanbul property ladder.

An optimistic view would look past the immediate political instability as a long term view points to democracy working in Turkey as opposed to a good amount of other countries. The political middle ground will most likely be found relatively soon followed by economic stability and in a relatively short time investments such as the property above could well look like shining stars against a backdrop of over leveraged Western property investments. Warren Buffets quote springs to mind – ‘Be fearful when others are greedy. Be greedy when others are fearful’.

www.lilimont-istanbul-realestate.com

 

Keeping Property in Istanbul in Perspective

It has just been announced that housing prices in Istanbul notched a record rise this year.

Great news, but not without need of caveat.

In my decade plus here in Istanbul I have lived through the following:

  • -Istanbul property prices were originally billions of Turkish Lira.
  • -Or you could buy a piece if istanbul real estate for 100,000 Turkish Lira.
  • -The Turkish Lira was almost on par with the dollar some years back and now it is worth virtually 3 Turkish Lira.


Of course, there is a bit of leger de main at play here, as I am comparing the old Turkish Lira and the new Turkish Lira.

The Mightly green back

The Mightly green back

However, the relationship between the mighty dollar and the Turkish Lira has been a case of decline of the lira over the past 5-7 years. This means that Istanbul house prices have had a harder time keeping pace with the blazing dollar, and has also meant that those holding USD now find the prices very attractive in Istanbul. The record price rises should be viewed within this context, as well as the opportunity that currently is taking shape in Istanbul. In the city center, as opposed to the far-flung suburbs, the Istanbul housing market is robustly marching along in terms of lira prices. The outer areas, however, are about to feel the pinch. As istanbul developers try to pass on their increased costs due to dollar strength, they will likely find that their TL earning consumers will have reached the max in terms of affordability.

In downtown Istanbul, the market is readily propped up by dollar-wealthy foreign investors who have an appetite for anything they deem reasonable value. In a sense, this is not so different from how London operates, though on a less grand scale. During the interminable crisis that has come to shape the perspective of many investors, London became what they term a ‘buy and leave’ destination for investors, who often parked cash in properties that they neither rented out nor lived in. This simply does not happen in the TL dominated World of suburban Istanbul and is why I strongly favour sensible investment in the center. Commentators wryly referred to the London phenomena as being akin to a safe deposit box. Many Middle Eastern (GCC, MENA and countries to the near east of Turkey) now view Istanbul in this light.

Just buy and leave... simple as long as you have a million quid

London, Just buy and leave… simple as long as you have a million quid

Central Istanbul property shares some similarity with this investment trend. Investors often see the bustling downtown, with a vibrant economy, despite the bumps along the way, as a good position to hold, often taking a long-term view. Be it the ’flight to quality’ or ’safe haven’ or the less prosaic, more humorous ‘buy to leave’, there is the common thread that sees the big money investors in istanbul are staying away from what are viewed as the riskier non-downtown areas of large metropolitan areas. Legendary Irish poet Yeats may have exclaimed that ‘the center cannot hold’ but he certainly was not referring to real estate in the new millenium, but, then again, he lived in a castle.

Another oft-neglected aspect of this flight back to the center is the inevitable rise in transportation, of which the cost of public transportation is the most sensitive. In Istanbul, sudden price rises of 30% or more for single-line transport have been known to happen. Once a bargain, the costs of daily commutes are starting to add up, with consumers constantly making calculations taking into account lost time travelling and the monthly AKBİL total (like an Oyster card). In addition, as metro lines expand, so do the number of people using them, often making it more crowded and less comfortable (I can attest to the fact that after the Levent line was expanded to Yenikapi, I now always have to stand, regardless of the time of day).

In spite of all the possible outcomes over the next half-year or so, it seems that the most likely is that central ıstanbul will retain its primacy and will be less adversely affected by the spasms of an EM currency.

www.lilimont-istanbul-realestate.com

Istanbul Property Assessment and Valuations

Lately, I have been getting quite a few requests to give valuations on Istanbul properties from foreigners who have bought property in Istanbul over past years and who are considering cashing in. In all cases, the goal is to give as clear a picture as possible on the current fair market value on the property in Istanbul. This is often easier said than done.

take time collating the info

take time collating the info

We must consider that the fluctuations in the TL can add additional complexity for the owner. What was worth 200 thousand dollars six months ago may not equal that today, given the currency has depreciated over ten percent. Naturally, foriegn owners looking to sell up their real estate in istanbul are interested in what they will take away in terms of dollars, euros, and so on. However, when doing a valuation, it is crucial to do it in TL terms, as it is in the end an asset in Turkey, and issues such as affordability and rental incomes on properties are gauged in TL. Once we have a TL valuation we can then convert to the owners desired currency but this should not influence the valuation.

What is the thought process and what are the main points when giving a valuation?

1-The first step must be to identify comparable properties which have been sold in the same area in the past six months. Finding a perfect comparable is not always possible, as the property types are so variable, as well as street by street differences. Additionally it is exceptional difficult to assess concrete property sales data in Turkey, cadastral records (land registry) can also be consulted, but are not usually so accurate.. However, if we can find properties that can be said to be reasonably equal, this is a strong basis for getting a working figure for a valuation.

2-Once property comparables have been found, then a differentiation process can begin. Which property has a better view, more light, is in better condition generally, has a higher rental income, is located on a street where the nearby properties are maintained better? For example, if property A was sold at 500,000 TL six months ago, but it has a better view, though not in such good nick internally, what is the value relation of these multiple factors. It is not an exact science, for sure, but having intimate knowledge of neighborhoods, street by street, is essentail in coming up with an as accurate as possible assessment and dealing with what are sometimes fuzzy distinctions.  Of course, this does not apply with large compounds where you have maybe hundreds of almost identical properties. These types of valuations are simpler, as the variation decreases and the comparative data is usually much greater.

prevailing price trend

prevailing price trend

3- General market trends. This often can also be a good starting point, particularly if the owner divulges the price they purchased the property for. For example, if the owner says they bought for 200,000 TL three years ago, and the data signifies that the particular neighborhood has been appreciating at 10% yearly during that period,   İt will be up to the assessor to disprove a similar trajectory for the property in question, and to provide rationale for the exception.

4- Always involve the owner. Home owners often are keenly aware of neighborhood developments and often know quite well the price that Mr. Jones, the neighbor, sold their property for last year. It is important to ask the owner what their expectations are for the price and also why they feel that way. They may be reluctant to tell you, but if there is trust, they should and often will. If it is unrealistic, reasons must be given.

5- Allow for ten percent error either way. It is best to give the valuation with the caveat that there is an error factor of ten percent either way, which can largely be attributed to market factors that change rapidly. Also, without feedback from live, breathing clients, it is impossible to get ultimate precision.

On the lighter side. After one particulary vehement objection to a property assessment I once gave years back on a 140 square meter apartment in the depths of Tarlabasi, I was bold enough to ask the owner the grounds for so vigorously disagreeing with my assessment. After brushing aside the methodology I explained I had used, he waved his arms in frustration and exclaimed that he had to buy new apartments in Umraniye (a new suburb on the Asian Side) for his three brothers who all jointly held a share in the current property, as that was the condition for agreeing to sell this apartment. Now, thats’s the job for an alchemist, I thought.

Six months later, he called me back and agreed that I had, indeed, given an accurate valuation.

www.lilimont-istanbul-realestate.com

Ferikoy: bargain hunter’s kill zone

Ferikoy is surely a neighborhood that will experience very good capital growth. It is very central in Sisli, and only about a 10-15 minute walk to Osmanbey, the nearest metro stop. In many ways, Ferikoy has not had its day in the sun due to the impressive surge in popularity of adjacent Bomonti, which is truly booming and has the crown jewel of the sparkling new Hilton.

Once quite ethnically mixed neighborhood composed of Armenians, Greeks and a Jewish community, it now is home to working class Turks. However, a change is discernible, with many local business owners becoming wealthier, their appetites for more appealing housing has become evident with the many new constructions sprouting up.

Pretty smart

Pretty smart

Furthermore, many Turkish people, revolted by the commutes to outlying suburbs are scouring these once forgotten neighborhoods, undoubtedly seeing that the calculations tips into Ferikoy’s favour when travel costs and ever-important time is taken into account. Add to the fact that Ferikoy actually has a neighborhood feel and a sense of vibrancy, it is no surprise that it is starting to get much-deserved attention.

An exceptional Antiques market

An exceptional Antiques market

As prices in nearby Bomonti seeme destined to break the 3000 USD/ square meter mark and Nisantasi, a brisk ten minute walk, considerably well beyond that mark already, it makes sense that prices in Ferikoy, which start at 1500 USD/sqm, are at attractive levels for investors as well as those locals desperately trying to avoid coughing up a large portion of their monthly income to generally rising rents.

The only thing that stops nearly every single property in this area from getting snapped up is the stringency of the banks and their common approach of rarely exceeding loaning more than sixty percent of the true market value of these properties, thus making it difficult for budget (i.e. Low-mid income buyers) to come up with what still amounts to a sizable downpayment. Further keeping a lid on matters are the high loan rates that drive up monthly payments to the point where the loan terms are mostly not much more than five years, with borrowers eagerly closing them before the full term, if at all possible. Here’s a great deal  - Lilimont Ferikoy

Rental properties in the area start from 600 USD for a one bedroom and up to 1000 USD for a two bedroom, with rental contracts usually agreed in TL.

If nearby neighborhoods provide any example, it seems likely that these will steadily increase in the next few years, possibly as much as 40-50%, making the future yield look very strong.

With Bomonti starting to look more and more like one of Istanbul’s most successful urban regeneration zones, it does not tax the imagination to feel that where Bomonti goes, so will Ferikoy.

Flats in need of tasteful renovation abound and are ready for the enterprising investor who, mind you, should look for a realistic return, perhaps 20 percent for a project.

www.lilimont-istanbul-realestate.com

 

Buy to let Istanbul Property

Naturally, many if not most Istanbul real estate investors are seeking to gain rental income from properties that they purchase. for_rentApart from those who are buying to live in a property, the vast majority are quite keen to know how much a prospective Istanbul property would fetch on the rental market and often base decisions on whether or not to purchase based on such projections.
Unless you are intimately familiar with the rental market, you will probably just be guessing and your figures will be well off. Below are some tips to provide more precision for your calculations:

  • -ask the realtor directly what the income is. Obtain proof by way of a rental contract or monthly bank deposits, if possible.
  • -scan the internet for properties with similar character, size and location. Try to get five, and then average them, finally subtracting ten percent for assumed negotiated final prices.
  • -use common sense. If the figure being given just seems too high, it probably is. Better to err on the side of caution.
  • -find an online index giving rental values in particular neighborhoods, try this or this. Look a few years back to add some historical perspective, as well as give you insight if rents are trending higher.

A few points to be aware of:

  • -if you are considering a property in Istanbul with an in-situ tenant, find out how long the tenant is staying. Sometimes, they may be on a shorter contract (3-6 months) and hence will likely be paying a higher rent than those who have been living in a property for years. This may artifically inflate the yield.
  • -again for in-situ tenants, understand the current contract. Some tenants prefer to get a contract with utilities included, as often their companies pay a lump sum monthly. In this case, they are often overpaying for the convenience of not having to worry about utilities. That can be fine, but just be aware that the yield may decrease when you get a new tenant in and they just want to pay the basic rent.
  • -be aware of any tenant that has a close connection to the owner, be it a relative or close friend. Understanding the nature of their agreement is not always easy and you cannot be sure what you are getting into. Better to start fresh with your own tenant in this case, unless you feel good about the tenant.

What are some other points to consider when aiming to maximize your investment and minimize fuss?
Sometimes in our efforts to sign on with tenants, owners can be too kean and overlook diligence in properly screening the tenant.

This guy?

This guy?

In my experience, avoid tenants in Istanbul who do not have steady work, as the temptation is too great for them not to pay when the going gets tough, and favorable tenancy laws make this easier. It is better to review the tenant properly before signing, as this will save headaches later on.
Another good idea is to immediately set aside ten percent of the rental income for repairs.

or this guy?

or this guy?

In my experience, this is usually more than enough, and it can be viewed as an acceptable amount for painting, etc. However, if you have not set the funds aside systematically, it can lead you to negative thoughts on your rental, where there should be none.
Istanbul is a good city to be a property owner. The rents are high and demand or to in most areas is pretty brisk. Small apartments in Aynali Cesme or Talabasi should always have good income potential, take a look at the potentials – Aynalicesme and Tarlabasi.

Time is money!

Time is money!

If your property is remaining empty for several months, you should be honest with yourself and ask if it is really properly priced and if it is in acceptable rentable standard, these being the two roadblocks in successfully renting out your property.
Finally, it should be noted that some properties outperform others on the rental market, but may not achieve the same capital growth. This should be considered prior to any purchase. There are often good reasons for this, yet they may not be obvious on first glance (for example, a student rental property may get higher yields as many people may share the space. Yet it may nor appreciate so well if the property gets more wear and tear).

www.lilimont-istanbul-realestate.com

How’s Istanbul property faring with the new year?

With balmy spring-like weather for most of January, the Istanbul real estate scene for 2015 is off to a zippy start. Lilimont has been keeping busy with a handful of transactions, as well as a few renovation projects and our proffessional services for foreigners (these will both be discussed in future blogs).

As global currencies seem to be flying all over the place, often unpredictably due to strong intervention by central banks, it often means great buying opportunities for investors, with property in Istanbul coming at discount prices.

Perhaps another driver has been the absence of bad news. It is a curious thing that often this is enough to float markets higher. You often do not always need really good news to push real estate in Istanbul forward and bring life to the market.

So, in short, it has been a good start to the year, but we will continue to keep the pulse and offer regular updates to followers. Of course activity also means that new sellers often enter the market, sensing that it is the right time to sell.

We have several new properties, but I would like to focus on two in particular, owned by the same couple, who are moving on to what is often termed Istanbul’s sister city, Berlin. Anyone familiar with the art scene here will know that there are deep and growing connections between the artistic communities in both cities and it has become de rigeur for young local artists to do a stint in Berlin, and many are opting for longer stays due to the lower cost of living.

The first property is located just 50 meters from the Osmanbey Metro, making it incredibly convenient and central. It is on a quiet side street in a very well- maintained building.

Great pad in Osmanbey

Great pad in Osmanbey

A two bedroom, 120 square meter in immaculate condition, ideal as a rental property. The list price is 300,000 euro, and with the dip in the currency, the price has really come into its own. The renovation style is universally appealing, a perfect blend of the contemporary and the classic.

 

Cool investment in Aynali cesme

Cool investment in Aynali cesme

The second property is located on a quiet side street in flourishing Aynali Cesme. This first floor flat has all of the classic features; high ceilings, wood floors, exposed brick, and hand made Turkish tiles, all at the tempting price of 200,000 euro. It is also in a building that is well taken care of and organized, and in an increasingly prime location.

Perhaps the enterprising individual could obtain both of these properties, providing an excellent foothold in the Istanbul market. Contact Lilimont for viewings!

The Target Istanbul Property Project

In the last blog piece we looked at some strategies for making, or rather maximizing profits, under possibly challenging conditions and identified five points for investors to follow. Now, we will apply those principles to an Istanbul investment property that is actually on the market.

To begin with, it should be said that it is believed this investment has the potential to achieve a 20-30 percent return in a year or so, a very good result if accomplished.

Just a few details on this project before we start - 

  • two apartments that can be joined to form a 3-4 Bedroom duplex property with a total internal area of 200 sqm, and an additional 15 sqm of balcony space, or about 7.5 sqm on each floor.
  • fantastic, open Bosphorous view.
  • interior in need of complete renovation.
  • exterior works also need to be undertaken.
  • 5th and 6th floors.
  • there is a functioning lift that also needs to modernized.
  • building entrance and stairwell also need painting and decorating.
  • the property is the ultimate in central location, looking out over Taksim Square on the street side and Bosphorous facing on the other. Siraselviler Street, on the way to Cihangir from Taksim.
  • asking price is 950,000 USD.
one of the best views in istanbul

one of the best views in Istanbul

At first sight, this is a property that many may overlook due to the poor internal appearance of the flats. However, those with an eye for real estate development may see beneath these cosmetic issues and focus on the excellent location, superb views and the fact that there is a lift.Let us do the numbers and see how they come out.

and the other.....

and from the other side…..!

Assuming a final price of 925,000 USD with all costs in (see last blog, POINT 1…buying at the right price) and a generous renovations budget of 125,000 USD, the total investment equals 1.05 million USD, so a re-sale in the vicinity of 1.3 million USD would achieve the desired return.Is this possible? It certainly is and here are a few reasons why:

  • full sea view properties are at the absolute high end of the market in Beyoglu. 10,000 USD/sqm prices have been recorded. However, these would be reserved for buildings with amazing character and prestige, check this out as a prime example of one of the best. Making a discount in this regard, the well-finished product that we would expect after injecting 125,000 USD into building and flat renovations, should get a price in the 6-7K/sqm range, which is well on target.
  • the size of the property puts it in the luxury category. Finding a flat in excess of 200 sqm in the area is quite a challenge, with average sizes much closer to 120 sqm.
  • the lift is a huge factor. Wealthy individuals (the end buyer) may not brook climbing up five floors (the younger legs may, however).
  • the prime location will be attractive to all, particularly foreigners. It also could be used as luxury office space (see POINT 2 in last blog…”the type of property should have a fairly wide appeal).

Now we come to POINT 3 from the last blog:  Be the catalyst for change in the building, and as you are on a schedule to complete your project and achieve your return, possibly take the high ground and put more cash into the building improvements than is your share.

Looks a bit dated and tired

Looks a bit dated and tired

In this case, there are 8 flats in the building, 6 not including the duplex, meaning your share is 25%. Perhaps instead of going the long path with lengthy owner’s meetings etc, cut it short and offer to pay for half of the improvements to the building.  After all, you are looking to close the investment within a year and lengthy discussions on building works are clearly not in your interest.

a scub and TLC and its this!

a scub and TLC and its this!

Again, let us go back to the figures -

The total budget is 120 K USD. 100 K USD should be suficient in completely renewing and redecorating the flats (wholly new electric, water, natural gas, plastering, flooring, re-inforcement of balconies, fully modernized and stylish washrooms and kitchen). This number could obvously go up, depending on the degree of luxury you seek. It could also be brought down lower, but for the purposes of the investment, that would seem to be detrimental. The quality of finish is highly important. Istanbul has become somewhat of a hub for high end design and contemporary chic, so many people are now putting finishes that are on par with those in Manhattan, London, or Paris. Money spent on these flash flats usually gives a good return on the investment. When you are going to sell a high end property, it is better to go a little over the top rather than doing something just acceptable.

-this leaves 25,000 USD for building works, plus an additional 25,000 USd collected from the owners.
With this, you can re-work, clean and repair the clad facade for an estimated 20 K (replacing a new facade won’t cost much more) . The entrance, stairwell and elevator, on estimate, could be repaired, replastered and redecorated for an additional 20 K with ease. This would leave 10 K for contingency. This dated 60′s building could be become a stand out cool property such as The Sanderson in London… without the help of Philipe Starck!

These works could be completed within 6 months or earlier, if you are super-organized and have good luck. That leaves 6 months to sell the property.

That brings us to POINT 5: Price the property appropriately. Remember that the magic number is 30 percent, so do not put an asking price of 1.75 million USD. Instead, a good starting point may be 1.5 million USD. This leaves you room to negotiate and still hit the target.

So, what are you waiting for? Imagine a 200 sqm plus luxury duplex in the absolute heart of a prime area in Istanbul.

Lilimont will offer services from A-Z to assist you in achieving your investment goal in Istanbul. www.lilimont-istanbul-realestate.com

 

 

Developing Property in Istanbul

Buying a property for redevelopment and with an eye for a quick turn around for profit has become much more challenging in most real estate markets, if not worldwide, over the past few years.

But one must believe that opportunities do indeed exist, though perhaps scratching further beneath the surface is required. When real estate markets are on a gradual rather than steep incline, it has to be accepted that value has to be added to the property through renovation works. And these works have to be carried out with a view to whether or not they will provide or enhance the return to be achieved. Take a look at this link for a cracking example of a good re-development 

Most small developers in Istanbul property target somewhere from 20-30 percent return on a project. Those who hold out for more will often be disappointed as a result of their too-high expectations. My feeling is that any project where you feel there is a reasonable prospect of a 20 percent return, with say a ceiling of 30 percent, should be seriously considered. Keep in mind that small projects, such as an istanbul apartment or townhouse renovation, can be completed well within six months. This property was sold a few weeks ago and there’s a great refurbishment planned!

So, what are some of the keys to a successful development project?

1- you must buy at the right price. This may sound too obvious to mention, but if you can pick up a property in Istanbul at market, or even ten percent below, you are well on your way.

Do not hang about!

Do not hang about!

Conversely, you will be stopped in your tracks if you initially over pay. Hunting is required to find such opportunities, and when you have found one, it is best to move quickly, as there are always those seeking properties to flip.

2- the type of property you buy should have a fairly wide appeal. Properties that have a very limited audience will take much longer to liquidate.

Brutalism is great for 0.0001%.

Brutalism is great for 0.0001%.

So, before any purchase is undertaken, you must take into account who will be the end buyer and are there enough end buyers to justify a purchase. It is best to avoid anything too marginal, such as basement properties or properties without sufficient light. Buyers usually shy away from these no matter how tasteful the renovation.

3- If you have bought a property at below market price, there is a good chance that the common areas in the building will be scruffy. It can take 6 months or more to organize painting of stairwells etc, if you are dealing with all individual owners. You will have to organize meetings and collect payments. If you are looking to move your property within six months, this may not be practical. It might be advisable to take on an additional burden, say anywhere up to 50 percent of the costs of painting stairwell, facade, and some other cosmetic works. If you inject 10,000 tl into the works and collect 10,000 tl more from the rest of the owners, you will have plenty of money to make some very positive change in a slightly run-down property. Although it may not seem fair, you have to consider that you are pushing the works in this time frame, and that you are doing it with a profit motive.

For every dollar you put into a building, it seems that you get two in return. It is a very worthwhile thing to consider. Obviously, larger projects, such as installing a lift or structural works should be undertaken with more unanimity amongst the owners.

4- pre-marketing during the renovation stage can be quite useful. This is controversial with some developers who like to have complete control and only fix the pricing after the works are completed. But if you are dispassionate and are just focussing on your target, why not entertain such sales? Amongst the benefits of this are that it may give the buyer an opportunity to customize the finish, it can significantly reduce the time in which your funds are tied up (meaning a higher return), in addition to the fact that buyers often get excited by works in progress, letting thier imagination run with things a bit.

5- It is best not to over price the final product. If you are very confident in your product, and you believe it can achieve that magical number of 30 percent return, then just add a little bit on to the asking price, recognizing that you will have to at least negotiate somewhat.

Also, if you get offers that give you a decent profit, weigh the benefits of holding out for a higher offer. Will a higher offer come through? How long will you have to wait?

Don't hold out too long

Don’t hold out too long

Might it not be better to move on to another project, having achieved success on the current project and having gained experience to help you on your next project?

In the next blog piece, Istanbul real estate with redevelopment potential will be introduced.

But if you cannot wait that long, feel free to email me!!!

www.lilimont-istanbul-realestate.com