Overseas Property: Dalyan, Turkey

It boasts pristine beaches, a wealth of wildlife, sensible prices – and hardly any tourists. Laura Latham reports
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The Independent Online

Tucked away in the south-west corner of Turkey, Dalyan is a pretty riverfront town that, at first glance, appears almost untouched by tourism. True, the streets are filled with cafés and buzzy bars, but you won't find the neon signs and raucous clubbers that throng so many Mediterranean resorts.

That's not to say the area doesn't get tourists, but the majority visit just for the day, to visit its mud baths and Lycian tombs or take boats downriver to the Dalyan delta. This environmentally sensitive area is home to all manner of wildlife, including the endangered loggerhead turtle, which nests along the protected, six-kilometre stretch of Iztuzu (Turtle) Beach.

The dramatic beauty and unspoilt charm of the region is also attracting property buyers who want a piece of the "real" Turkey.

"Dalyan has a very traditional town centre," says Vreni Morris of the Aquavista agency. "It's a fabulous area if you want authentic Turkey, and is untouched compared to other resort locations."

Morris says homeowners here have the best of all worlds: a thriving small town in a beautiful location with easy access to miles of pristine beaches. Morris says that although there has been more building around the town, planning restrictions mean that properties are low-rise and generally tasteful.

"You tend to get villas rather than apartments," she says, "and they're usually attractively built, often using stone and timber. Because development is done on a small scale, you get better quality than you might find elsewhere."

According to Morris, prices for a two- or three-bedroom property on a small complex with shared pool start from £80,000. Meanwhile, detached three- or four-bedroom villas with pool and private gardens set you back upwards of £155,000. It seems a snip compared with other Mediterranean destinations.

"Prices in Turkey are not really going up at the moment," says Morris, "but it means buyers aren't being asked silly prices and the market is more steady."

Many Brits dream of finding a rural or traditional property to restore, but this isn't necessarily a good idea in Turkey. Non-nationals are restricted from owning land in rural areas – although that doesn't stop some agents trying to sell plots to unsuspecting investors – plus it's unlikely any ruin would be a good buy.

"I wouldn't touch an old stone property," says Morris. "Most are not built to earthquake standards, so you won't get insurance on them." She advises anyone hankering after a traditional-style home to have one built.

Alan Daines, of the local agency Utopia, says that you will find fewer apartment developments in Dalyan than in other towns, but it is possible to pick up a two-bedroom property from £40,000, with small villas available from £65,000 if you're happy to share a pool and gardens.

Daines agrees with Morris that it's a buyer's market and that property is good value; the affordable cost of living is also attractive to many British retirees and second homeowners. "Dalyan has escaped the ravages of mass tourism," he says. "It has stunning scenery, ancient ruins and low crime. The lifestyle is so laid-back it's almost horizontal."

One worrying side effect of the influx of eager British buyers is the appearance of rogue agents. Daines is constantly amazed that buyers will purchase property from people they barely know. "Turkey is a safe place to buy, providing it's done properly," he says. "It may seem obvious not to buy from a waiter or taxi driver, but it happens."

One very happy buyer is Helen Love, who has owned two four-bedroom villas in Dalyan since 2004. Love's first property was built as a family holiday home for £80,000 and is now worth £150,000; the other was a pure investment. She rents both villas through the summer for between £400 and £900 per week, but confesses that this doesn't cover much more than the maintenance costs.

"I chose Turkey because it was cheap, stable and is expecting EU membership," she says. "My family have fallen in love with [Dalyan]. It's great for holidays, there's a pristine beach and the local people are wonderful." She says the local authorities are aware that what keeps Dalyan popular is its unspoilt nature and have implemented strict planning controls to protect against overdevelopment. "They're aiming to maintain the character that makes Dalyan so attractive and to keep it from becoming too commercial," says Love. "After all, that's precisely why people want to own there in the first place."

Aquavista: 01580 850170, www.aquavistaproperty.com; Utopia: 00 90 252 284 4062, www.utopiadalyan.com; Helen Love: www.houseindalyan.co.uk

Buyers' guide

* UK nationals can own in Turkey but there are restrictions on buying rural land. Check that your intended purchase is not within a military zone as non-Turks cannot legally own in such areas.

* Property owned by individuals can be sold after four years without incurring any capital gains tax.

* Estate agents can legally act as conveyancers on property deals but you're safer instructing your own independent lawyer to handle everything.

* Make sure a property has clean title deeds (tapu) before putting any money down. Never build unless you have the legal title deeds and full planning permission.