All change as the government announces restrictions
Some significant changes to the rules on residency permits in Turkey have been causing something of a stir recently.
If you’re a Turkophile or already resident in the country, you’ll probably be aware the nation is currently anticipating an important election in 2023.
Immigration is just one of the issues the rival parties have been focusing on – not least because of the number of migrants crossing the border from trouble spots like Syria, northern Iraq and Afghanistan.
However, more recently, wealthy Russians and even investors from the Middle East have also been snapping up prime property in hotspots like Istanbul, Antalya and Bodrum. Asking prices have risen beyond the pockets of Turkish buyers as a result.
As a result, the government has listed a number of regions around Turkey where residency permits will no longer be issued to foreign nationals – at least for now.
To begin with, the choice of location (link attached here) seemed to suggest the objective was to spread the number migrants more widely. This would reduce the risk of too many in one place creating a “ghetto” where indigenous Turks could feel outnumbered.
But, when some of the tourist areas popular among Europeans were also included, expats from other nations – including Britain – suddenly found their dream of a new home in Turkey had evaporated overnight.
It’s important to stress the restrictions apply only to new applications for residency. If you already live in Turkey and have a current, valid residency permit, a renewal will not be a problem.
However, the sudden introduction of the regulations covering new applications has left a few in the lurch. Not least are those in the affected areas who own a holiday home already but have not yet applied to live in it full time.
Until now, the authorities haven’t been all that sympathetic to their predicament. It’s been suggested, if they do want to settle in Turkey, they have the option of selling their property and buying another in an area not affected by the new regulations.
However, there is also a chance the goalposts could move rapidly once again with rumours rife of more districts being included in the restrictions. As a result, there are expats out there who are understandably worried, if they do put their property on the market and try to move, they could find themselves back where they started.
So, what are the solutions?
If you’re a foreign national with plans to relocate to Turkey to live full time, our advice would be to make sure you have chosen an area so far unaffected by the restrictions and to begin the residency process as soon as possible.
That could mean renting a place to begin with, acquiring the requisite health insurance and then beginning the application process.
Alternatively, if you want to acquire property of your own immediately, we’re here to help. If you can give is a call and let us know your preferred location and your budget, we can match your requirements with homes already on our portfolio.
We also have experience which will help with the necessary paper work and administration, and a network of contacts who can help with the logistics and in dealing with bureaucracy.
Another option – particularly for those with more long-term plans – is to purchase a property but not to apply for residency. Of course that will mean you can only visit Turkey on a tourist visa and therefore only stay in the country for 90 days out of every 180. Your property would therefore effectively be a holiday home.
However, with a villa or apartment already acquired, you could then wait out the election in 2023 and see which way the wind blows after that. After all, a change of administration could see a reversal of some policies, including the restrictions on residency.
Of course, there is an element of risk. There are no guarantees that anything will change after the election. Also, although property prices around the globe have been rising relentlessly for a decade, that doesn’t mean they will continue to do so.
If you already own property in the areas affected but haven’t yet applied for residency, a wait-and-see strategy could also be your best bet for now.
As we have already acknowledged, there are suggestions that more areas could be announced soon so an attempt to relocate could be a case of “out of the frying pan into the fire”. It may make sense therefore to sit out May 2023 to see if any changes are introduced after that.
Again, there are risks. If nothing changes after the election, you could find you have missed your chance to relocate to an area you may have preferred, particularly if more districts are added in the meantime.
Although asking prices have risen sharply in recent years, there is no guarantee they won’t fall. There is the possibility more homes coming onto the market and a dip in demand could see prices reach a plateau for a few months.
However, again, we’re here to help. If you do want to sell and sell quickly, we may have a buyer lined up looking for a home just like yours so feel free to contact us.
The rules governing the acquisition of Turkish citizenship through a property purchase have also changed recently.
In 2018, the threshold was reduced to a home worth $250,000. But, in June this year, the amount was increased again to $400,000, pushing an application further away from those on a modest budget.
However, according to our sources in the Foreign Office, no applications for citizenship through the purchase of a property will be considered in areas where residency has been restricted.
In other words, there will be no exceptions made for foreign investors hoping to side-step the rules in the affected areas simply because they can afford a more expensive property.
How can we help?
It’s important to emphasise there are the regulations as we understand them at the time of writing. If you know Turkey well, you will be well aware they can change quickly so our advice to all those buying or selling property would be to try to keep an eye on the media for official announcements.
Any significant changes will be . However, please do remember, although social media has its place, it can also be misleading. Our advice would be to try to verify information shared on groups and forums with reputable sources if you can, particularly if you’re on the cusp of making a potentially life-changing decision.
As ever, though, if you need advice on buying property in Turkey, feel free to drop us a line. We’d be delighted to help if we can or to direct you to other professionals who may have the information you need.