Saudis lead Gulf realty investors in Turkey

Saudis lead Gulf realty investors in Turkey

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Wouter Molman
Wouter Molman

DUBAI — Investors from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia have emerged as the largest GCC real estate investor in Turkey and the third largest among foreign investors.

Buyers from Iraq (in first place), Saudi Arabia (3rd), Kuwait (4th), Qatar (7th) and Bahrain (10th) emerged among the top 10 foreign buyers in the first nine months in 2016, according to Gyoder, the country’s Association of Real Estate Investment Companies. Saudi Arabian investors made 1,327 transactions and purchased 564,000 sqm of real estate space in the first nine months of last year.

Arab visitors now make up the bulk of foreign real estate acquisitions in Turkey, despite the economic and political uncertainty of 2016. To amplify and facilitate investment from the GCC into Turkey, the organizers of Cityscape Turkey, will create a specialized GCC Hosted Investor Program, at the Cityscape Turkey, for interested investors to benefit from pre-arranged meetings with leading developers and brokers participating at this year’s show.

The Program is designed at helping prospective investors with network opportunities, a dialogue exchange, and to open the door for investment opportunities.

The Program comes at a crucial time. Over the last year, Turkey has undergone several shocks, yet experts are adamant that in the face of uncertainty, the country’s real estate sector remains resolute, with the IMF recently stating that Turkey’s economic growth continues to show resilience.
Historically GCC nationals have made aggressive real investments in Turkey, purchasing one in every four properties bought by foreigners in 2015 alone, says Gyoder’s Q3 2016 report. Real estate purchases, in terms of square meters, by foreigners in the first nine months of 2016 was 4,594, 290 sqm compared with 4,094,737 sqm in the same period in 2015 .

, with Gulf investors making up the lion’s share of these purchases in 2016.

The country’s real estate sector continues to attract significant levels of foreign direct investment, with Istanbul (5,811 sales) attracting the highest number of foreign buyers, followed by Antalya (4,352) and Bursa (1,318), according to the Turkish Statistics Institute (TÜİK). Istanbul, the financial capital of Turkey located at the crossroads of two continents is a city that has access to 22 capitals within a two-hour flight. A combination of growing consumption, a strong demographic profile and an economy driven by the expansion of financial and business services has triggered the development of Istanbul, and Gulf investors have responded positively to this.

In terms of sales, Turkey›s real estate sales increased 4.5% to 1.2 million properties in the first 11 months of 2016 over the same the same period of 2015, according to TÜİK. In addition, the Turkish economy received a multi-billion-dollar boost last year after the country revised its GDP to reflect USD 862 billion, increasing from USD 720 billion. The revision has pushed Turkey past the Netherlands to take its place as the 17th largest economy worldwide.

“GCC investors understand that when it comes to real estate, it’s all about long-term investment and not something that has immediate short-term results, these investors recognize that the market is cyclical and where there’s potential there are rewards – and Turkey is filled with real estate potential,” said Wouter Molman, Director of Cityscape Group. Molman was speaking ahead of Cityscape Turkey, scheduled to take place from 23rd – 25th March, at the Istanbul Congress Center.

“According to property consultant CBRE, GCC countries currently account for about 50% of all foreign sales into Turkey. We’re seeing several Gulf investors make inroads into Turkey, into the residential, office and hospitality sector and, despite the concerns, we believe it will do little to deter these investors. Based on our success at last year’s inaugural Cityscape Turkey, we’re confident that the exhibition will raise the confidence of the real estate market in the country,” he added.

Cityscape Turkey will welcome over 65 high profile exhibitors and more than 7,500 regional and international participants are expected to attend.

A look at Turkey’s residential sector and over the last five years residential rent price index of 68 cities, within Turkey, is up by 68.9% on average, while residential sales price index is up by 84.9%, in the same period, on average, according to Reidin. In terms of sqm value in sales,

Istanbul is the highest, followed by Izmir and Mugla, two cities located at the western Aegean coast of Turkey. While Trabzon and Rize, located at the eastern Black Sea coast, are becoming increasingly more popular among the Arab investors, and have witnessed a monthly increase of 1.8% in terms of sales prices.

The retail sector continues to do well in Turkey. Reidin claims that the total number of leasable areas in malls sits at about 10.5 million sqm and that eight new shopping malls are scheduled to open in 2017. “If the growth trend is realized at these levels, it is predicted that the total number of shopping centers in the whole country in 2018 will reach to 415 and the total leasable area size to 13 million sqm,” notes Reidin.

In terms of Turkey’s office sector, as of 2018 it is expected that 2.5 million sqm will be included, says Reidin. One of the most notable developments, include Istanbul Finance Center, located in Ataşehir, which will have an office supply of approximately 600,000 sqm and will be developed by Agaoglu, Cityscape Turkey exhibitor.

As Turkey looks to introduce new reforms and incentives over the next year to boost real estate in the country, foreign investors will be watching the market closely. One of the incentives introduced by the government earlier this year is its golden visa scheme. The government announced that it would grant citizenship to foreigners who buy property worth at least $1 million and invest a minimum of $2 million, or deposit at least $3 million in a bank account for more than three years. The Turkish government predicted that the new law would trigger an extra $1 billion in revenue from property sales in 2017. — SG

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