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.

Red lights- you may have got it wrong on pricing when putting your Istanbul property up for sale

One of the most difficult yet necessary tasks of an Istanbul estate agent is to moderate the sometimes exaggerated values owners have of their own Istanbul properties. To further compound the sensitivity in this is the constant state of flux that exists normally for real estate markets, as well as imprecision in assigning a value to a particular piece of istanbul real estate.

I can tell you, over the years, I have certainly seen both ends of it. I have seen property in Istanbul sell for much more than I would have imagined, but more frequently, I have seen properties sit idly for sale for eons due to incorrect asking prices.

Though far from exhaustive, the below list should give you some idea of whether or not your expectations are in line with market reality.

  • You have assessed the property as objectively as possibly in the context of the broader market.
    do it...

    do it…

    It is important that you have not just gone on the internet and done a superficial search on asking prices. Be aware of neighborhood transactions and compare to your property.

 

 

 

  • You have had two separate real estate agents in Istanbul provide valuations. You may want to consider paying a small sum to them, as this might let them know you are serious about getting an accurate, well-thought out assessment.
  • Has your property been on the market for 6 months? This is a sufficiently long enough time to gauge market feedback and also long enough if some temporary blips (political uncertainty, etc) might skew price trends.
    too long

    too long

    If your property has been on the market for a year or more, ask yourself the question if you are really serious about selling your property.

 

 

  • Have you been following your estate agent’s client flow? If they are averaging less than one viewing per week, it may suggest a problem. Of course, for higher end, more rare real estate types, this may be overly-ambitious. However, for your average property within the majority of buyers’ reach, you should be hitting this number, with one view every two weeks being the absolute low.
  • Do some clients seem offended when you show them the property? Although this is a pretty extreme situation, it does happen. I rarely will agree to take on a property that is offensively overvalued, as it immediately destroys credibility and wastes time. Some clients will be very forthright and comment on an absurd asking price. If you hear such comments, do not just brush them aside. These people are not doing this as a negotiation tactic. They will not be making an offer on the property.
  • Very basic, but are offers coming in? Are some clients coming for a second viewing. If you are not getting any second viewings at all, that is a huge red flag.
    deals to be done

    deals to be done

    I always sense when selling a property is imminent and one of the big cues for this is several clients making repeat visits to the property.

  • Yield, yield, yield. Assuming your property is not a Norse Castle somewhere north of Stavanger, most clients will be interested in how much rental income a property could achieve. Just about everybody has some idea about rents in local neighborhoods; it seems to be wired into our survival DNA, so it should not be hard to figure this out.
  • And one of my personal little favorites. If you are using general listing sites that count the number of hits you have and they have an “add to favorites” function and you are not getting more than one “add to favorites” out of one hundred, it is a signal that even in the impersonal online theater, buyers are not even tentatively showing an interest! My hot properties usually get 3-10 “add to favorites” in one hundred. Try it some time, it is a lot of fun.

 

So, in short, in the rough and tumble world of real estate, a little self-monitoring can be a valuable tool!

 

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

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

10 things that keep me coming back for more: 10 years in Istanbul, a short retrospective.

I guess it is natural that after 10 years I have been giving some thought to what keeps me in Turkiye ( I really prefer the native name, obviously ), and Istanbul in particular apart from the property business. My views have certainly changed, yet some things that appealed to me from day one have remained. Amidst the cacophony of the real estate construction and the back to school traffic madness, I thought I would do well to remind myself of some of the things that provide consistent enjoyment. As it is a top ten Letterman list, there doesn’t seem to be much need for more pre-amble.

Girls Istanbul

so very chic

1-Well, yes, the PEOPLE. They certainly share the hot and cold aspects associated with the Mediterranean personality. I suppose, I have come to look on the Istanbulite the way you might a family member; there is plenty of haggling, negotiating, hugging, etc., at the end of which you develop a modus vivendi, yet certainly not in any way resembling the Swiss model. I suppose that is fine. It is quite ironic that Family Law is based on the Swiss Code. Food for thought, that one. Fine to have a legal code adapted from foreign lands…but implementation?

Also, as more and more foreigners arrive in the city daily, the Turks’ attitudes have also changed, and part of that is positive. I seemed to get asked less for impromptu tutorials in English, which suits me fine.

Istanbul food

all great fresh stuff at a good price

2- The food. This was almost an easier choice than number one. Come on, I eat out every single day and for 5-7 USD I can get great, nutritious (for the most part) meals. I am a diehard fan of the Ayran drink, love my baclava, olives, and am well-known for putting away large portions of icli kofte (decidedly, stubbornly non- nutritious).

The only paradox here is that international cuisines are under-represented outside of all but the trendiest areas, not to mention pricey when you do find them. It is hard to get a curry in Istanbul, but I guess I can live with that.

istanbul metrobus

This photo needs no explanation

3-The metrobus which connects you very efficiently with areas far and beyond the airport. With its own separate lane, and hence no traffic, nobody using it can again provide traffic as the excuse for being late.

 

 

 

istanbul hills

up down up down

4- I have no need for a stairmaster. The hills can be punishing, steep and endless, but when you see a bloke twice your age slogging up one of them with a santa claus like sack doubling him over, it kind of keeps you in check, not to mention being a decent calorie burn. To be avoided in summer, though. Unless you are on the way home to take a cold shower.

Istanbul ist Europaeische Kulturhauptstadt 2010 ( Istanbul is European Captial of Culture in 2010 )

The local youth club!

5-Loud music at all public events. No, wait a minute, I don’t like that at all. Gotta keep up the standards. With a demographic composed mostly of 20 year olds, I guess this makes sense. I wonder if the music will be as loud in twenty years time?

6- Being at the so-called “crossroads” of continents, the world, etc. When I haul up my googlemaps, I feel pretty connected. Nowhere seems out of reach…well, except maybe Canada. And naturally, Hawaii. But I could almost throw my jacket as far as such strange places as Tblisi, Yerevan, and Tabriz, home to famous Persian rugs.

istanbul snow

postcard anyone?

7-The first snowfall of the season in Istanbul. Silence, after all. Even the most broken-faced and jaded istanbulites’ jaws drop, as they gaze naively into the night sky. Cars return to their natural state as enemies of the seven hills topography of the ancient city, and the sweet hot sahlep drink returns to the streets.

8- Cihangir Cami/ the Bosphorous. This mosque might have the world’s best view. It is an ideal place to recharge on a late Fall day.

Marmaray_project

The boring image. But what a tunnel

9- The new Marmaray project that connects two continents underwater. Very high cool quotient for that. Also, pretty convenient and time saving.

10- The rush from the subway doors to the escalator at Taksim metro stop. Though not a Dakar motoring marathon, this requires dexterity, sometimes brute force, and wit, of course. A favorite anecdote, this is almost a rite of passage for any newcomer. As the subway door opens, see if you can be the first to get to the escalator. Just a hint, you had better be running and watch out for the covered 60 year old ladies. They are good with the elbows and abound with that free-for-all spirit that pretty much sums it all up; these faces in the crowd, sprinters on a fast, slick track.

If you fancy a little bit of all of the above, take a look at our collection of properties – click here

 

Cihangir with a sea view and more…

In this week”s blog, I would like to turn my attention to a property in central Istanbul that has caught my eye recently. It is always nice to discover a new bit quality of real estate for sale and especially one located on one of Cihangir’s quietest streets, and with a view to match.

Quite neighbourhood

Quite neighbourhood

The property is on Batarya Street, which is very close to the famous Firuzaga Tea Garden and and the Firuzaga Mosque. In addition, there are dozens of cafes, boutiques and restaurants within less than 200 meters. For those of you who like a morning stroll, you can catch a wonderful sunrise at the park just down the hill fifty meters. So, obviously the location in the midst of Cihangir, yet in a serene side street with little traffic is much to be desired.

Firuzaga

Firuzaga

Sea view properties are always at a different level than their peers, often commanding easily 50% more than comparable properties without the view. Although the view on the Batarya property is not panormaic, it is certainly quite wide, and from the living room and the extensive 12 meter balcony, it offers a very beautiful shot of the Bosphorous and the historical peninsula, and even Galata Tower to the east.

What a view

A view to die for…happily!

 

The building itself is about 40 years old and is in quite decent shape, with the property being an easy one flight walk up. There is also an elevator in the building.
The expansive 55 sqm living room could be enhanced by opening up the kitchen which is currently being separated by a non-structural wall. This would allow for an open kitchen plan where you could take in the view while preparing the evenings repast.

In my experience, this is the ideal property for refurbishment, as the work involved is mostly cosmetic and does not involve heavy construction and could be completed in two months or less. As the apartment has not undergone an extensive refurbishment in the past 20 years, it is probably due for this treatment. Of course, many buyers enjoy this process because it gives them the opportunity to select the materials and the finish according to their tastes.

The property asking price is 1.4 million TL or approximately 700,000 USD. Given that it is 150 sqm (3 bedrooms), this puts the price per square meter at under 5000 USD, which is very much in line with properties with this view and location. The owners are keen to sell so will entertain sensible offers.

Put a designal stamp on this and you’ll have one of the best places in Istanbul

The typical buyer of this kind of property would be a young Turkish couple or a foreigner, with some people looking to make it a home and others looking to achieve a decent rental income over the long term (in this case, with a tasteful redecorating, 5-6% is quite realistic).

 

 

If you’re interested follow this link for details -Lilimont Cihangir Topkapi View 

 

The Renting Game

As the end of August approaches, a time when people typically arrive in Istanbul to take up new jobs, the time for apartment hunting begins. A lot of people in Istanbul give up their properties over the summer, so it is a period of turnover and a good time to be looking for a new place. 

On the move

On the move

Prospective tenants should be aware of some basics regarding the rental market in Istanbul. Normally, you will find your property through an real estate agent and the fees for that range from one month’s rent up to 12 percent of the yearly rent. In addition, the standard deposit is one month, but if you are renting a luxury furnished flat  the deposit can  rise to two month’s of the rental.

About one third of foreign clientelle choose to live in one of the many attractive neighborhoods in Beyoglu, such as Galata, Cihangir, and Aynali Cesme. The rest are spread out all over the city depending on work locations, with an small cluster also forming around the Levent-Maslak area close to the Istanbul business district and newer developments. 

The contracts that you will be asked to sign are fairly standard, but they are written in Turkish (you may well want this translated, but good to understand that only the Turkish is legally binding). It is important to check the apartment and the utilities to see if they are in any obvious need of repair, as it is often easier to get these sorted prior to moving in. Again, this depends on the type of landlord that you have.

You can trust him

You can trust him

As a general rule of thumb, it is a good idea to rent from a landlord that you have a good feeling about, as well as to work with an agent you feel likewise about. In the event of any problems down the road this can become very important.

There are a few peculiarities about the rental market in Istanbul that are worth mentioning. In some neighborhoods, the owners may not to want to rent to single men. It seems like a strange restriction, but dont take it to heart, it is cultural. No need to get offended as this probably would not be the suitable place for you anyway. Also, some couples that are not married, may be refused a contract. Again, no big deal, as there are many places in which this will not be an issue.

In general, families seem to prefer living in the compounds, which offer swimming pools, security and a built in community. Expect to pay a fair bit more for these, and expect the monthly management fees to be steep, anywhere from 200 -500 USD monthly on top of the rent. Always ask what the management fees are so you do not get a surprise later at contract signing time.

When you are searching for a property, the most productive time to start is at most one month prior to your intended move in date, and probably two weeks is better. The reason for this is that the landlords typically will not hold the property for you for several months, so in effect if you start too early and find something you really like, you could well just be wasting your time.

Don't search too early... save your precious time

Don’t false start… save your precious time

The most successful searches start about two weeks prior, at which time if you put in an intensive few days, you should have a good view of the market and be in the position to make an informed and good choice. 

 

The rents are charged in Euro, TL, and USD. You would do well to consider any currency repercussions prior to signing. It is not considered inappropriate to negotiate the price of the rental and to ask such questions as how long has it been empty and why did the last tenant leave. It is also common to negotiate the rent by offering to pay anywhere from 3 months to 6 months in cash. The wise Turkish landlord will recognize the value of a stable and reliable tenant.

Take a look at our great rental offers - www.lilimont-istanbul-realestate.com/rentals

 

The Aftermath

It is hard to write about events, particularly when they are still fresh and the outcomes remain unclear, as is certainly the case with the spasms that ripped through Turkey and specifically central Istanbul as a result of the Gezi Park protests.

I have seen a number of protests in my life, many here in Istanbul and a few others elsewhere, including one in Halifax, Nova Scotia after the Toronto Blue Jays won the World Series sometime back in the nineties. That was the first riot I witnessed, involving not more than a few hundred people and lasting perhaps an hour. The intent of the rioters was completely unclear…jubilation, revulsion, inebriation all seeming likely causes.

Riots and protests seem to have become much more a part of the landscape than they were back in those days. We have had protests and riots as part of anti-capitalist movements, anti-war protests, as well as all of the events of the Arab Spring.

So, as unexpected and wide reaching as the Gezi Park event was, taken in a larger global context, it should not be such a shocking event. Brazil is currently undergoing an almost parallel version, though it is playing out differently due to the views and actions of the authorities.

The scale of Gezi was certainly massive and this was perhaps what is most worthy of commenting on. It involved millions of people.

But make no mistake about it, Turkey is a functioning democracy, and though this was a regrettable episode in this long path, one cannot count out or disregard Turkey just on the events and responses to this particular mini-crisis. Many mistakes were made and various people have stepped forward to attempt to soften the at times harsh rhetoric.

The stock markets went predictably manic, the currency plunged and it felt like something really horrible was happening. However, as the dust over the battle field clears, the picture also gets sharper. There was an ideological clash that occurred, but as many will agree, this was something that was already in the air. Now, it is a little more out in the open. This could be a positive if it is used to bridge the ideological divide. Is this likely to occur? I believe, in many ways, that it will and my reasons for believing so are as follows;

- Turkey has managed for centuries with the same or at least similar divides.

-Turkey has a lot of support from surrounding countries, which surely would also like to see a stable and strong Turkey.

-Turkey itself has gone through a period of unprecedented growth and it would seem unlikely that it will merely implode as a result of what were mostly peaceful protests.

-elections are not that far off and I think everybody will see that protests are fine, but if you want to influence events in a democracy, the best way to do it is still at the voting booth.

-the mayor of Istanbul has taken on a conciliatory tone and let’s face it, what goes for Istanbul, mostly goes for the rest of Turkey.

Chill out he's just trying to do the right thing

Chill out, he’s not a bad guy

To some extent Istanbul has been having periodic spasms for the past decades due to the rapid change and re orientation of this city. With leadership and dialogue, there is little doubt that Istanbul can continue on an impressive arc, though the expectations are dimmed in this Spike Lee beginning to a hot summer. I hope the Radio Raheem’s are safe and we can enjoy gentle evening breezes on the shores of the Bosphorous for the rest of the summer of 2013.