What is drawing the big names in football to Istanbul?

Tw VPTurkish football and the Süper Lig may not carry the same global prestige as the Premier League, but the profile of Turkish football has been regaining strength in recent years, due in part to a number of high profile names heading for Istanbul.

Tw NaniBut what is it that saw players as high profile as Didier Drogba and Wesley Schneider opt to play at Galatasary a few years back, and more recently lure United team mates Van Persie and Nani to Turkish rivals Fenerbahce for the coming season?

Well despite the reputation of a league, the obvious light that attracts even the largest moths in the game is of course, money. Heavy investment, big sponsorship deals and improvements in grounds and training facilities have allowed teams around the world, to evolve into a more tempting proposition for the big names.

We’ve seen it in China, Russia and probably to the greatest extent the USA. “Soccer” is fast becoming a national past time in the states and the MLS draws vast support despite only being a spritely 22 years old.

Robbie Keane, Steven Gerrard, David Villa, Kaka and most notably David Beckham are amongst the big names to head state side. But the MLS has been branded with the unfavourable title of the Premier League’s retirement home, as players head for warmer climates to see out the twilight years of their careers.

The same however cannot be said for the Turkish league. The rivalry within Istanbul alone between Galatasary and Fenerbahce, and to some extent Besiktas, is arguably one of the fiercest in the game. With Galatasary and Fenerbahce in particular offering a very real chance of excelling in European football, the pace is far from leisurely.

So for those not quite ready for the retirement home, Istanbul offers the competitive football they require but what else? Well with some of the best tax rates outside of Monaco RVP will be keeping the large majority of his £240k weekly wage in his pocket. Not only this but the cost of property in Istanbul is considerably cheaper and, even the high end market offers more for your money than you’ll find elsewhere in the footballing world. The average cost to rent a one bedroom apartment in Istanbul is just £310 a month, a 52% difference to the £650 a month in Manchester. Over 80% cheaper than renting in London at £1,600 a month!

With their £4m+ transfer fees, it is unlikely either Van Persie or Nani will be struggling to afford the cost of living in Istanbul, or that they’ll opt for a one bedroom flat in the city centre. Professional footballers are wrapped in cotton wool these days and their agent organises everything from their hair cut to their living arrangements.

The majority of them end up rubbing shoulders with the Istanbul elite in the high end housing developments, that provide the secure environment needed to keep them away from prying eyes. Developments such as Istinye Park, Listinve, Selenium Twins and the Macka Armani Residence (rumoured to be home to Sneijder’s multi-million pound pad) are all popular options.

Lilimonts Istanbul Partner, Keith Boyle, commented:

“The privacy of these luxury residences with their high quality fitness and wellness areas, 24 hour security looking after the needs of Istanbul’s elite, swimming pools and full concierge services seem to be de rigueur in the choice-making of these wealthy, though often temporary expats.

Many, of course, opt for rentals in the same type of compound. However, others sense that the exorbitant rents make it a wiser choice to purchase a property with the anticipation of price gains.

The size requirements would typically be anywhere from 200 sqm all the way beyond 500 sqm. Mr. Persie, in an elite compound with great Bosphorous views, may expect to pay anywhere from £1.2-5 million on such a great pad.”

Lilimont 1Lilimont Istanbul are listing such apartments in this luxurious development in Florya, situated within eight acres of landscaped grounds. It boasts sea views, a central but private location, its own shopping centre, food, drink and entertainment facilities, a playground and health and fitness facilities including a Turkish bath. These three to seven bedroom apartments start as low as £390,000.

But if this expansive development is a little too open for the camera shy footballer, an apartment in this extremely exclusive Selenium development in Sisli may be more appropriate.

Lilimont 2

Each of the buildings offer every amenity our former Premier League stars might expect from the finest hotels. There is a grand entrance, fitness facilities, the buildings personal security as well as lounge and restaurant space to name just a few.

The development is one of the premier property projects in Turkey at present carrying the prestige associated with a top name in football. An apartment on one of the top floors will set you back just over the £1m mark, with one on the lower floors priced around £700,000. A real steal when you compare the quality and price tag with similar projects around the city.

However for the footballer that likes to think for himself there are other options offering the expensive flash lifestyle, but with a trendy city location that will provide a taste of Istanbul’s culture, not just another private gated community.

Lilimont 3

It doesn’t get flasher than living on your own exclusive island and the Karamanyan Timber Mansion would make the perfect footballing residence! It lies just off mainland Istanbul on the second largest of The Prince’s Islands”.

The prestigious location is a stone’s throw the island’s private beach and beach club and is steeped in history. Standing 60ft tall it is easily the most impressive property on a street whose name translates to “Street of Mansions”.

Lilimont 4Or if Robin or Nani favour a drive to work over a speed boat, this penthouse apartment in Galata ticks all the right boxes.

The two bedroom apartment offers panoramic views of the Golden Horn and Bosphorous are spectacular, further brought to life by the property’s oversized living room window. The 40sqm terrace provides outstanding views, overlooking a gothic church that remains from the Crimean War.

So if RVP or Nani are still in the market for a property, they should visit us at Lilimont Istanbul, and we can help them find something a bit more unique than an apartment in a closed community.

Lilimont Istanbul Real Estate: http://www.lilimont-istanbul-realestate.com/

Istanbul & Its Street Art Culture

Mural 3The attraction of living in a foreign city for most, is the opportunity to experience a new culture and way of life. Istanbul offers this in abundance, due for the large part, to its straddling of two continents and its historic, strategic importance for the Romans, Byzantine and Ottoman Empires.

 

But culture comes in many shapes and forms and isn’t necessarily confined to food, religion or nationality. Art has long been a strong influence within culture whether it be music, poetry or painting, but as times change, culture changes with it and this artistic expression manifests itself in different ways.

Wall paintings date back some 40,000 years in both Europe and Asia, but the modern day graffiti artist is often thought of as a blight on society. Without the consent of the owner, as is often the case, graffiti is a criminal offence and punishable by law. However it provides the less privileged in particular, with a vehicle to express underlying social and political angst.

Particularly in recent years, street artists such as Banksy, have seen graffiti and street paintings become a legitimate form of art, with his work now fetching a high price. Major cities around the world have become a blank canvass and Istanbul is one of those leading an artistic revolution.

Mural 2

Since 2012 Istanbul has held the Mural-Ist Festival, organised by the Kadıköy Municipality in the Anatolian side of the city, it celebrates street art through the creation of enormous wall paintings.

 

 

The aim is to brighten up some of the city’s more subdued areas, filling blank walls with vast amounts of colour, each narrating their own story. Once again the festival will bring as many as 10 mural artists from around the world, keen to make Istanbul their blank canvass, with each artists taking around 10 days to complete each masterpiece.

One such mural painted by Polish artist M-City at last year’s festival, was considered one of the best of its kind worldwide.

Not only are these works of art becoming a thread in the fabric of Istanbul, but it demonstrates the city’s open minded approach and acceptance of new forms of expression. This makes it a desirable location of many, not just the artistically inclined and should serve Istanbul well in the future.

If you want a first-hand experience of Istanbul’s street art, Lilimont have a number of properties within the vicinity of some of these artworks and the expertise to help you secure one.

Take Galata for example.

We’re listing this spectacular penthouse flat with panoramic views of the Golden Horn. This fifth floor, two bedroom apartment is one of a kind and packed with historical character.

We’re also listing this sleek penthouse flat, again in Galata, for 350,000 Euro. Offering a mix of regal, historic architecture with a sleek, contemporary design.

Both properties aren’t to be missed and both lie a stone’s throw away from one of our favourite Istanbul street murals!

Panda mural

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.

 

A tale of two cities: real estate prices in central Istanbul and Budapest

Over the summer, I had the opportunity to explore the real estate scene in Budapest. To be frank, I was quite surprised at how cheap it was (now don’t drop reading and rush off to Budapest just yet…or at least not without calling me first!!!). It really got me thinking. I was looking at quality, un-renovated historical properties in reasonably good locations that were going for under 1000 euro per sqm. I have been in a lot of European capitals over the years, yet I have not found prices like that anywhere, even in raunchy Bucharest or relative backwater places such as Sofia.
The prices are less than half that of equivalent properties in Istanbul, which is not even part of Europe, a.k.a ‘the bubble belt’.
I reflected on this at length and I came up with a few pseudo-theories that I think stack up.
Apart from the obvious economic facts which any economist could rap off in their sleep… such as Istanbul’s being one of the fastest growing dynamic mega-cities  or its geopolitical importance in the 21st century, bridging Europe and Asia, etc…are the other, less tangible reasons why I feel real estate prices are higher in Istanbul and will likely surge higher. Much like Moscow, New York, and the undisputed king, London.

In Istanbul, you can buy anything and at ANY TIME. It defines the insomniac modern city. And everybody is selling something. It is deeply immersed in the culture, so much so that I am appalled at how concerned I have become about the price of trivial items, of one kind or another, I have been indoctrinated. When my friend buys a new pair of socks, I cant resist…’how much?’ In Istanbul, dinner parties often deteriorate into a game of monopoly, where people call out street names and prices of property. In Budapest, I suspect doing so at a dinner party would be met with, ‘go directly to jail. Do not pass go.’ a major social faux pas.
By contrast, In Budapest, nothing is open on Sundays and it felt perpetually as if it were a Sunday afternoon, even on Friday night. It lacked bustle, not to mention hustle. Lovely for relaxing, not so great if you want to make real estate skyrocket (not that I do).

Estate agents looked at me with suspicion, whereas in Istanbul they salivate; often sleeping, drinking and chatting in their offices until all hours. In Europe, the baseline for all commercial activity seems to peak at about 35 hours a week. That would be a good weekend for our unshaven, slightly dishevelled Istanbul hack property agent.
On a more technical note, the big difference in city center prices between the two capitals is the transportation reality.
In Budapest, an area that takes 15 minutes to get to by public transportation is considered a bit out of the way, and by no means central.
15 minutes in Istanbul can be chewed up just walking to the nearest metro stop, or getting through a set or two of lights while on the bus.
Obviously, if you work downtown in Istanbul, you lose an enormous amount of time if you live outside the city center. Throw in high gas prices and it becomes  a bit more apparent the factors that drive up prices in central areas. It can be a false economy to rent or buy on the outskirts of the city.

Budapest street scene

Population is a big factor, though so obvious as hardly worth mentioning. Istanbul belongs with Asian giants at an estimated 20 million.

Istanbul street scene

On a psychological level, our Magyar (Hungarian) brothers, seem to have a bit of a grudge, as if history had been unkind to them, which it often, indeed, was.
Contrast that with the Turks, who are walking with more of a swagger these days and harking back to their Imperial past and Ottoman glory. How does this reflect real estate prices, you ask?  Perhaps the sense of belonging at the top of the heap gives a bit of confidence, dare I say arrogance, to its possessors.

One of the final points I would like to make concerns the demand and supply side.
Istanbul, though a large and sprawling city, has an undersupply of well-established and beautiful neighborhoods, so the ones that fit this bill, command very high prices. Most of the neighborhoods and building stock are pretty drab and unattractive. Therefore, areas like Bebek, Nisantisi, and parts of Beyoglu are in demand due to their attracive old buildings or sea views.

In Budapest, lovely old historical buildings are a dime a dozen. The architecture is cohesive and the neighborhoods often blend imperceptibly into one another.  People will pay more to live in the popular second district than they will to live in the grittier eighth district, but the divide is not as great as that between Nisantisi (4000 euro per sqm)and some barrio on the Asian Side of Istanbul (400 euro).

And comparing the Bosphorous with the Danube? Like comparing Pele and Ronaldhino, my friend…

Bosphorous

Danube

In my entry next week, I would like to continue with some future predictions on real estate prices for both cities. I hope you will be interested in what I have to say on this. By the way, it hit 30 degrees today, the middle of October. Add that to your reasons to come to Istanbul!!!

Renting in this big beautiful City

People who are familiar with the Istanbul real estate scene know that the rents in the city center are pretty high and the market is reasonably dynamic, producing a good yield if the property is purchased at the right price.

Not all of our clients are purchasers of Istanbul property, however.  Many come to us seeking long term rental properties in Istanbul city center, normally because they have been relocated by their company or a new job beckons. Luckily, we have lots of expertise in this area and we do our best to help clients find the best value, whether it be for a budget studio or a glamorous penthouse apartment in a luxurious compound.

High end luxury in a signature development

with a view to die for

It is hard to nail down per sqm prices in the neighborhoods because they really vary greatly from street to street and can also be based on the quality of the building.

In general, however, a furnished 1 bedroom apartment in a decent neighborhood with quality construction, starts from around 1800 TL or approx. 1000 USD and 2 bedroom apartments are on average about 20% more. Naturally, the price jumps up significantly with a sea view.

Great value with a superb terrace

http://www.lilimont-istanbul-realestate.com/rent/ 

Contracts are typically one year. If you plan to stay longer than a year, make sure you are aware of any rental increases prior to signing a contract. If you are not familiar with the language, have somebody along to help you with the contract process who is familiar. Mostly, the contracts are standard, but they should be read and understood prior to signing.

A note on the landlords. Unfortunately, in Turkey, the landlords are quite hands off, except when it comes time to collect the rent! You are assumed to take care of small items that need repair by yourself. Larger issues should be brought to their attention and should be handled by them. In our experience, if you pay the rent on time and keep the place in reasonable condition, the tenant/landlord relationship should be amicable.

Have a look at a few of our stunning rental offers this season…. http://www.lilimont-istanbul-realestate.com/rent/ . If there’s nothing to your fancy on my site then give me your needs, we’ll put the feelers out and I’ll don my detective mac…. our team enjoy a task and a city search.

Life, business and sport during Ramadan in Istanbul

Most foreigners who have not lived in a Muslim country will probably be surprised to hear that the holy month of Ramadan is not just about abstinence and self-restraint. Undoubtedly, for the devout, from dusk til dawn it is exactly that, with no food or even water being allowed to pass their lips for the duration. And of course, smoking is also forbidden during daylight hours. This kind of rigorous denial is often the focus of media attention.

But there is another side to Ramadan; the festive one that begins with the breaking of the fast and carries on late into the night. Lavish and extended meals compensate for the deprivations of the daytime and it is a time for family and reunions and an overflowing of life onto the streets. When Ramadan occurs during the summer months, as it has for the past few years due to the secret machinations of the moon, daytime activities slow down immeasurably as a result of the heat and the fasting. İt is a spiritual time and time for reflection, but it mixes in a good bit of old fashion family fun, too. As Ramadan nears its end, there is a Bayram holiday which could be said to be the equivalent of Christmas, where children receives gifts, mostly monetary, and people return to their native cities and villages to visit family and old friends.

The end of a long hard day

 

Personally, from a real estate perspective, we, too, like to consider this a time of reflection and we try not to worry about closing many deals during this period. We try to immerse ourselves in the spirit of the month and trust that Allah will keep food on the table in coming months.

İt is also a good time for planning, as traffic in the office slows to a halt. We often take a holiday and get recharged for what is usually a busy fall.

Finally, as Ramadan coincides with the Olympics, a word on how it affects sporting life.

Some people I know, though you may find it hard to believe, actually play squash while fasting. İ was stunned when one of my regular partners insisted on playing during the daytime. İ brushed him off, saying it would be too easy for me if he were fasting. Yet, when we did finally play, I was nothing short of flabbergasted to see that he actually performed at a high level. And here is Spartan me, who can barely muster up the natural strength to get out of the house without my two cups of coffee in the morning!!!

So, some athletes competing in the Olympics will fast and still perform, something for which they should get a separate medal for! In rare cases there are certain exceptions that can be made for fasting, however these instances are very unique and complex, and in some of these cases the fasting days can be made up at a later date.

Go Turkey Go

 

İn any event, whether you be laboring under the fast or not, let us take the time to celebrate this annual, yet unique and mystical event.

Kolay gelsin (Turkish)… ‘Let it come easy’

Festivals, stats and a new task

Last weeks property search for our client ended in success. We found a very attractive two bedroom right next to Bilgi university in lower Tarlabasi (see photos below). It has fantastic character and is in reasonable shape. We will do some small renovations and then let it out, most probably, to teachers working in the area. Now, we are finalizing the paperwork.

   

The” Istancool festival” got underway yesterday and the streets are abuzz with artists, musicians and theatre people of all varities. Take a look at http://www.facebook.com/ISTANBUL74

A quizzical look at how statistics are reported in the media. A reputable local newspaper made a big deal of how home sales were down twenty percent in January, February and March from the previous three months. Hardly an unusual development, given that the winter months are always slow, especially as it was an unusually wet winter. Barely mentioned, was the fact that home sales were indeed up 9 percent on the same period from last year. I suppose they will report it in the same way next year, when predictably, home sales will be down again for the winter months as opposed to Autumn.  Hmmm?

So, the task for this week is even more challenging than last week. A European based property fund that has sizable holdings in downtown Istanbul has tasked me with finding them a large building in a central location. Their demands are simple…it should be historical in character, central, in need of full restoration and around the 2000 dollar per square meter mark. They are divesting of their portfolio in other developing markets and betting big on Istanbul, which has by far outperformed their other holdings in Eastern and central Europe. They are very pleased with the capital growth and the yields they have achieved on their acquisitions in Istanbul. The competition is fierce for these kinds of buildings, but with patience and readiness, they can be sourced. Keep tuned…or drop me a line with any questions you may have (please keep them related to property issues, thanks…