How rich people buy mansions

Rich Arabs buy up the villas on the Bosporus

Wealthy Turks are throwing their properties on the market because of the economic problems. Every tenth villa is for sale.

The bank of the Bosporus is one of the most beautiful and sought-after residential areas in Istanbul, but due to the current economic problems in Turkey, many owners are forced to turn the villas into money. Around 60 of the 600 Yali villas on the banks of the Bosphorus are currently for sale. Many of the prospective buyers are wealthy Arabs as they have the change to buy the property. Since a legislative reform, they also have a Turkish passport when buying a property.

Almost all prospective buyers are rich Arabs from Qatar and other Gulf states, say brokers. They benefit from the fact that the Turkish lira has lost massively in value since the beginning of the year. "With the loss of the lira, Istanbul has become a paradise for golfers with high purchasing power," says Hamed Elhamian from Anka-Invest. They believed that the lira would soon rise again and that their investments would appreciate in value.

Little interest from Turks

"Most of our customers come from countries in the Middle East. We have people from Azerbaijan and Iran, but mostly from Qatar," says broker Ugur Ayhan. The interest of the Turks in real estate is very low right now. According to Elhamian, many owners and developers are therefore relying on foreigners looking for real estate for more than $ 250,000 (216,000 euros) in order to get Turkish citizenship.

Since a decree in September, foreigners can get a Turkish passport when buying houses and apartments worth $ 250,000. Before the law reform, they had to invest $ 1 million in it. For Iranians, for example, it is much easier to travel to other countries with a Turkish passport. However, Ayhan notes that significantly higher sums are required for a Yali on the Bosporus.

"Bosporus property a symbol of power"

"It's impossible to get a luxury apartment, let alone a Yali, for $ 250,000," says the agent. Buyers have to make tens of millions of dollars to get one of the larger villas. For many Arabs, however, the villas are worth the price, as "a Bosporus property is a symbol of power and of unmistakable beauty," as the broker Pinar Ayikcan Tuna says.

The traditional wooden villas on the Bosphorus, built in the 19th century by the Ottoman elite and wealthy merchants as summer houses, are known to the Arabs through novels and the Turkish television series. The series "Ask-i-Memnu" (Forbidden Love), which is extremely successful in the Arab world, made the Yalis famous because it was largely filmed in a villa on the Bosporus.

"These soap operas are actually our best advertisement abroad," says Tuna. She also registered increasing interest in the picturesque properties on the Bosporus. Many of the historic villas are listed, so that the owners need the approval of the authorities for changes and the buildings must be kept in their original condition. But the Bosphorus behind the garden wall is not free.