Overseas: Turkey - is the coast clear now?

A place by the sea for £20,000? It's still possible in this emerging market, discovers Graham Norwood
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The Independent Online

It's now five years since foreigners were first allowed to buy homes in Turkey, and the market has exploded with interest.

Almost 1.4 million UK tourists visited the country on holiday in 2004 (the latest year for which statistics are available), a 50 per cent increase on the numbers five years earlier. The records show that, of the 48,051 homes owned by foreigners in Turkey in 2005, no fewer than 7,084 are in British hands, up from 2,420 in 2003.

The most sought-after area of Turkey is its so-called Turquoise Coast, where the Mediterranean and Aegean seas meet.

The Turkish Property Centre, based in Newcastle, says the most popular locations for British buyers at the mid to lower end of the market tend to be Bodrum and Fethiye, although smaller, less well-known areas on the outskirts of these resorts, such as Antinkum and Kushadasi, are also popular. "In some places you can buy coastal flats for £20,000, although some higher-quality developers are now moving in as well, especially to Fethiye," a TPC spokesman says.

Michael Doig of Colliers CRE, a British property consultancy that monitors Turkey's housing market, says: "As in many countries that are becoming the focus of British residential investors, price growth is being estimated at anywhere from 10 per cent to 40 per cent a year."

But prospective buyers should beware: the annual Global Real Estate Transparency Index, produced by consultants Jones Lang la Salle, describes the Turkish housing market as "opaque", with poor information on property availability, weak processes to establish exact ownership, and corrupt practices among selling agents. It is also almost impossible for foreigners to get mortgages in Turkey, so drawing down equity from a principal home in the UK is the easiest way to buy a property.

But the same criticisms would have been made of Spain 40 years ago, and Turkey will no doubt improve over time, just as Spain has.

Certainly, in a bid to boost its campaign for admission into the EU, the country has brought inflation down to its lowest level since the mid-Seventies, the economy is growing at 9 per cent, and there are promises to set up formal land registry and property ownership systems.

Estate agents say there are five main areas where it is becoming popular to buy, and where prices are expected to rise by 2010, especially if new budget air routes open up and if Turkey is finally accepted into the EU.

As Michael Doig of Colliers puts it: "Reforms are taking place that will only improve the purchasing process and the transparency of the market. Turkey is one of the best emerging markets to invest in."

Belek

Close to the Ottoman city of Antalya, Belek is Turkey's main golfing area. The resort itself, set up in 1984, now has five 18-hole courses and is being given special marketing treatment by Turkey's tourism ministry. There are more than 30 four-star hotels in the area, and a new scheme for 102 two-bedroom golf-course apartments is being launched by Kemer Mediterra, a leading developer in Turkish second-home resorts. The area is a 30-minute drive from Antalya airport.

Bodrum

This is the Costa del Sol of Turkey. The area came into its own after its airport was opened in 1998, and now it is the best-known tourist resort in the country, spilling over into nearby areas such as Gumusluk, Yalikavak, Gumbet and Turgutreis.

About an hour from here is Altinkum, another rapidly developing coastal resort. High-density developments prevail, with a two-bed flat on the outskirts of Bodrum costing from £40,000 and three-bedroom villas with sea views available from just £55,000.

Dalaman

On Turkey's south-western coast, this former agricultural area is now dominated by tourists thanks to Dalaman airport, and new road and rail improvements are promised in the next two years. Plans for the area include a new golf course and marina as well as environmental improvements to its extensive beach coastline.

Gocek

Known as the St-Tropez of Turkey, Gocek is a resort on the Gulf of Fethiye. It has four marinas, including Turkey's largest, the 500-berth Port Gocek. Dalaman airport is just 30 minutes to the north, while the more downmarket resort of Fethiye lies to the south.

Development is strictly limited in Gocek: some new schemes, such as the 25-villa Gocek Hills estate, reflect this with high starting prices of £225,000 and high summer rental prices of up to £800 per week for a two-bedroom property.

Kalkan

This is a small fishing village on the Teke peninsula, just over 90 minutes' drive from Dalaman airport and close to Kas and Fethiye. Famed for its Greek architecture, the protected old town has become a tourist draw. New developments are kept away in the hills, and are relatively limited in number. Prices for new homes start at £175,000 for two-bed apartments.

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