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.

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.

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.

Outstanding Istanbul Property Investment

From time to time, being realtor in Istanbul, a truly remarkable piece of Istanbul real estate falls into your lap. Being bottom-line minded, to achieve this status a property in Istanbul must not only possess beautiful characteristics, but also must be profitable for any prospective buyer.

Ottoman Perfection

Ottoman Perfection

This is quite a challenging prospect, as the owners of such outstanding properties are usually wealthy and reluctant to sell prized assets at below market value, mostly prefering not to sell them at all. And when it is a listed first degree historical property that was inhabited by the chamberlain to Sultan Abdulhamit the Second and attached to the greater grounds of his palace? A rarity indeed.



At time of writing we have the Mabeyn Kosk on sale for 2.25 million USD, a bargain by any measure, with a likely rental yield of over 7%, possibly even 8.5%! The 450 sqm net property, spread over five floors, with a gorgeous 140 square meter garden has been restored to pristine condition by the same architects who worked on the famed Egyptian Embassy property on the Bosphorous.

In its recent history, it was a high end gallery bringing together the elite in Istanbul.

From the Gallery website:

Located in Besiktas, The Chamberlain House is one of the most remarkable examples of civil architecture at the beginning of the 20th century. The house was the former home of the Chamberlain of Sultan Abdulhamit II, Haci Ali Riza Pasha. 

The entrance floor and the master room of the house is decorated with murals as well as magnificent wooden ceilings covered with paintings in oil. Designed to display the Chamberlain’s taste in art, the interior evokes a compelling vision of Sultan Abdulhamit II’s initial commissioning of Western Artists. 

The building houses Mabeyn Art Gallery since October 2011. All the hanging systems and panels are designed to protect the lavishly decorated interior. Now, Turkish and International contemporary art works are exhibited in a century old historical setting.

Superb detail throughout

Superb detail throughout

Naturally, with such a past, the property has been the subject of many publications, articles and dissertations, a few of which are below (sorry, Turkish language only); -

Do not let this center piece asset pass by, as it seems destined to return great yields and immediate capital growth! We would approximate that with a fair economic wind a combined rental plus capital growth a return of 15% per annum could be achieved over the next 5 years. The price is somewhat negotiable due to a need to sell.

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.



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!!!

Istanbul: a new luxury capital?

Perhaps one thing that might come as a surprise to those not so familiar with Istanbul is that it has quickly become one of the capitals of luxury in the world. If you want to indulge, over indulge then Istanbul is about as good a place as any.

istanbul photo 1 copy

People often associate Istanbul with narrow, dark byzantine streets and a sense of crumbling decay and faded architectural beauty. While that certainly exists, it is increasingly giving way to the glitzy, hyper-trendy world of luxury and exuberant entertainment. The signs of wealth are everywhere, from the steady stream of Ferraris and Porsches along the Bosphorous in Bebek to the packed to capacity fine restaurants in Etiler. And this is not just on the weekends. Visit these places at almost anytime and the vibe is ongoing and relentless.

In the past ten years, I have witnessed downtown going from a one trick pony in terms of shopping malls. Back then there was the lone Akmerkez Mall. Now, in a short span, there are so many new malls just in downtown that I barely know the names of many of them…Sapphire, Kanyon, Cevahir, Zorlu, and many more.


There is talk of a glut, yet to the casual observer, what is immediately striking about many of these complexes is how busy and frantic they seem. The restaurants are all full, the shops packed as well. And everybody seems to be living it up.

In the past, luxury was reserved for small pockets nearby or on the Bosphorous; Bebek, Etiler, and Tarabya. Now it has spread to the further outreaches of the city, with the Atakoy Marina and its surrounds being a good example. Here you can find massive restaurants of all varieties, both local and international, doing brisk trade. Of course, the massive rises in tourist numbers does a lot to bolster all of these upscale developments.

I do not have any fast and ready figures, but it doesn’t seem a stretch of the imagination to discern that wealthy tourists from the GCC spend far more money, and do much more shopping, than the backpack tourist that was more prevalent but a few short years back. And more and more of these people are buying properties, and with those properties, naturally, there is a demand for nice furnishings and accessories. Many favor local Turkish brands both from an aesthetic point of view, as well as favorable prices of the products. All of this represents a sort of virtuous cycle and certainly is a nice income stream for the government, providing foreign currency and employment in the same stroke.

So, will Istanbul soon become synonymous with the high life, in the manner of a Dubai a London?

Observations and such…. a snapshot with an Istanbul real estate theme

1-With the local elections now past, Turkey seems to have entered a period of relative calm. The markets and the currency have been bolstered, and the ever-important tourism high season starts to kick into gear. Of course, there are still presidential elections coming up in August, so that may well contribute for a low Lira and continued Istanbul property buying opportunities for foreigners.

what a project

what a project

2-The construction of the third bridge on the Bosphorous is underway. It is hoped that this will alleviate some clogging of the traffic. It seems that investment in these areas should take a wait and see approach, as there already seems to have been speculative impact when the project was announced.

all coming down

all coming down

3-One of the projects I have been following for quite some time (Tarlabasi Project) continues, with the next phase of construction looking about set to begin. It may be the last chance to get an affordable and versatile property investment in the form of a town house or small building that are so much in demand in the city center. Currently buildings ranging in size from 200-400 sqm can be bought in the 500,000-1 million TL range.


this is what's being built

this is what’s being built


Renovation costs (on a complete gutting) cost about 800 TL/sqm and upwards. There is strong demand for rentals of studios and 1 bedroom apartments in the area, which can go anywhere from 900 TL/ month to 1500 TL/month. Tarla properties can be found here

The juxtaposition of Istiklal

The juxtaposition of Istiklal

4-Istiklal’s complete overhaul continues apace, with many large business buildings being town down and hotels, etc. put in their place. The side streets off of Istiklal can still be a good place to pick up good Istanbul real estate at affordable prices. Many new restaurants and famous Turkish sweet shops have also opened up (Oh no!).


5- Metro extensions (link) are in abundance and the Marmaray Project connecting the two continents by tunnel is fully operational. As a result, getting around town has become much easier. Not to mention that at a mere 1.95 TL per trip, Istanbul must be one of the cheaper mega- cities for public transport. Those over 65 ride free!

6- The West Side Project, one of the largest in Europe, in the Esenler District of Istanbul has delivered units in the first phase. The complex has every imaginable amenity and is reasonably central and reasonably priced. It is the ideal option for families, and even has a private school within the complex.


wow – The West side

Contact for more details. Currently, there are some very good financing options, making it a very accessible property option.

7-Renovation costs on the rise? Well, not really. Istanbul remains a relatively cheap option. Basic overhauls on apartments can start from as low as 700 TL/ square meter. Of course, the Italian marble will run up those costs a bit. Electricians and plumbers run about 150 TL/day and a handyman is about the same cost. A decent carpenter is about 200 TL/day. Still well below European averages and a mere fraction of the cost in London.

8- The state of the rental market. After year upon year of increases in rents, it now appears that owners are having to drop their prices in order to find tenants for their properties. In my view, this was a necessary correction, as many owners were starting to get unreasonable in their expectations. A stable tenant at a reasonable rate seems to be the sustainable play. Owners should be looking to decrease voids, or empty periods, rather than going for top dollar. The rents should also be advertised in TL. FX rents send the wrong message, besides this is Turkey after all.

9-Military permissions, necessary for foreigners when purchasing property in Turkey, seem to be consistently being approved within six to eight weeks. Having the paper work in order and done properly  are keys to avoiding any delays in this process. It is advised to get a professional to assist with the application.

10- There is a large urban regeneration project planned in Okmeydan. The area is not so attractive now, a large sprawl, but the prices are certainly right. I believe this will be one of the more lucrative investment spots in Istanbul over the next few years. The most logical move seems to be to purchase a relatively good-sized building on the periphery of the project. The prices are low enough now that even if the project is not a blazing success, the investor would still see good growth over time. Again, I would be pleased to go over this on serious enquiry. 

In The Pink

As with many good properties in the center of Istanbul, my association with this property has gone back a long way. I always referred to it as the pink corner building, in honor of the pink facade, which distinctly stands out in this Beyoglu neighborhood. It’s also very prominent in that it stands out as being higher than the surrounding buildings, giving it a majestic appearance, endowing the property with some of the best city views.
At over 100 years old, it has a history of its own, witnessing the transformation of the neighborhood as a bustling hive of Armenian, Jewish and Greek owners through to the period of decay which started in the fifties and carried on well into the eighties, at which time the incipient signs of a turnaround began to appear.

The.....Pink House!

The…..Pink Corner Building!

Just up the road and overlooking the lively Sunday Market and not more than 100 meters from the Fish Market (Balik Pazar), this was always destined to be an area that would be restored to its former importance, due to its centrality.
My first dealings with this Istanbul property were when an acquaintance of mine passed away (well-known and much-respected photographer, Mehmet Gulbiz, may he rest in peace) and one of his relatives asked me what they should do with his flat on the top floor. It was a small, rather run-down apartment, but it had enormous potential, with an amazing rap-around balcony. The family retained ownership, and it is being rented out by a client.

Classic Ottoman

Classic Ottoman

The property in these photos is on the fourth floor and it is the product of a painstaking restoration by a talented Ukrainian lady named Katerina. She bought this Beyoglu property at a good price and spent a fair bit to restore the original flooring, doors and iron work. She added an Italian-tiled washroom and a modern, functional open kitchen by converting one of the bedrooms. She joined the two windows in the living room into one larger one to maximize the view. The flat has been tastefully decorated and furnished in an historic Ottoman style and is now being used as a short term let that generates 120-140 euro nightly.

The city view

The city view

Katerina is very pleased with her investment and is now looking for her next project!

Take a look -


Bond, James Bond…returns to Istanbul

There was certainly quite a bit of fan fare during Daniel Craig’s visit to do filming on the new Bond movie in Istanbul. Yet, it was not the first time that Bond as an enterprise has graced Istanbul’s shores. Not only is it the favorite city of the director of the current Bond film, but it was also apparently the favorite of the film series’ prolific writer, Ian Flemming.

Of course, anyone familiar with Istanbul will not be surprised that it has featured in 3 Bond movies…with its winding streets, stunning waterscapes, bridges, steep slopes and grand monuments with every specimen of humanity trampling about…it can hardly be a surprise that film makers of all stripes lust after shoots in Istanbul.

007 looking good in Istanbul in the 60′s

One can just imagine the difference between 1963 and To Russia with Love and today’s skyscraper-filled skies. The new skyscraper center, Atasehir, more closely resembles what some high-tech vision of some emerging giant Chinese city would reveal.
In any event, it seems to the history that adds the magical, surreal element to the city. After all, if it were just stunning modern architecture, there would be countless rivals: Dubai, Singapore, Mumbai, and so on. Istanbul remains unique in its combination of older than old history and blazing modernity.

Not as confident in the 90′s

Unfortunately, the undercover property agent did not get a chance to meet the real undercover agent Bond on this occasion, but I did follow around his stunt crew who seemed to be looking for a little after hours action up in Taksim. Despite their sticking out rather obviously, they seemed to get lost and were asking passers by for directions. I had a chuckle to myself…even the Bond boys were out of their depth in Istanbul.

Back to his best now

If you fancy catching a bit of the Bond spirit, take a stool at the Orient Bar in The Pera Palace Hotel and try one of their divine Martini’s..–Nightlife/Orient-Bar/