Why Gulf investors hold the key to future growth in Istanbul

Demand for luxury residences in upmarket districts of Istanbul continues to rise, fuelled by buyers from the Middle East who are also attracted by investment opportunities presented by developments in the city’s growing suburbs, said Turkish property agency Spot Blue International Property in April.

In March 2014 alone, foreigners bought 478 properties in Istanbul, out of a nationwide total of 1,362, according to the Turkish Statistical Institute. Istanbul accounted for 20 per cent of all property transactions in Turkey during March. Evidence suggests that districts such as Bebek and Nişantaşı on the European side of the city, and Başdat Street on the Asian side are helping to drive foreign sales, as they attract an increasing number of wealthy citizens from the Gulf nations. Sales to foreigners are further boosted by Middle Eastern investors targeting buy-to-let opportunities in residential developments in the suburban districts of Bahcesehir, Sariyer, Beylikduzu, Arnavutkoy and Esenyurt .

“The Gulf-Turkish affair is gaining momentum,” said Julian Walker, director at Spot Blue International Property. “Only this month, Istanbul hosted an investment summit during which Turkish President Abdullah Gul invited investors from Kuwait, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates to come to Turkey. Earlier in the year, a Turkish delegation was in Qatar promoting Turkey while a Kuwait Turkish Real Estate Forum will take place in Kuwait at the end of April. At Spot Blue we have seen a rise in interest from Kuwaitis and Qataris in particular in recent weeks. For Gulf investors, Istanbul is an attractive stepping stone between the East and West, as well as a place to be seen.”

Confidence in Istanbul’s property market has been boosted by a series of infrastructure projects set in motion by the governing AK Party, including a new mega airport and improved transport links between the Asian and European sides of the city, as well as an extension of the underground. In addition, $50billion has been committed to re-developing entire districts to ensure all buildings are earthquake proof. Construction is currently Turkey’s biggest industry sector.

Growth in Istanbul’s real estate market is unmatched by European markets, most of which remain depressed, and price growth is occurring at similar levels to London. “Typical buy-to-let investments are in the $150,000 to $200,000 bracket,” continued Julian Walker. “The market is moving quickly though. Our representative in Istanbul reports that new apartments in prime areas of Beylikduzu that were on the market six months ago for $80,000 should be worth in excess of $100,000 once the development is completed later in the year.”

Complementing Istanbul’s growing status amongst the international jet set is its increasing appeal to tourists. The city was voted the best place to visit in the world in this year’s TripAdvisor Awards, while 35 million people visited the country as a whole last year, a 10 per cent increase over 2012, according to the country’s Culture and Tourism Ministry.

Spot Blue International Property has a portfolio of luxury villas and buy-to-let investments available in Istanbul. Examples include two-bedroom apartments at a new residential development in Beylikduzu, 20 minutes from Ataturk Airport and available from $155,000, as well as a large five-bedroom villa in a prime area of Kavacik-Baykoz, with Bosphorus views, priced $4,950,000.