Oceanwide Properties celebrate 10 years in the Turkish property business
It’s a good, Good Friday as Oceanwide Properties prepare to celebrate 10 successful years in the Turkish property business this weekend. Suleyman Akbay, MD said,
Oceanwide Properties were established in England and Turkey on 5th April 2005. I can’t believe we have been in the Turkey real estate business ten years now, the time has just flown by. We have met some wonderful people on the way, many clients are now happily settled or enjoying their Turkish properties, and we have made some great friends like Peter in the process.
To commemorate such an occasion, aside the drinks that will no doubt be enjoyed this weekend, we thought it time to ask Suleyman a few questions on his business, what he has planned for Oceanwide Properties, and what he expects from the Turkey property market in the future.
How did you come to be involved in Turkish real estate?
“I had been living and working in England for a number of years. I had some cash saved up to buy a property there but the one I was interested in fell through. I was disappointed so decided to come back to Turkey and look at business ventures to invest my capital in instead.
On arriving, a good friend suggested setting up a real estate company. He described it as a “potential goldmine”. With my cautious finance background, I wanted to do research first. I found that there were barmen, restaurant owners and hoteliers setting up as developers. Barbers, hairdressers, pretty much everyone you met were selling villas, apartments and land to potential investors. I couldn’t believe it. There seemed to be very few registered or professional estate agencies. My friend was right, it was definitely a market I was interested in. The difference was I wanted to do it properly. Knowing differences between the Turkish and English ways of business, I wanted to make sure that my agency employed a more professional approach, that we were properly registered and governed by all the necessary professional bodies. Many horror stories were appearing in the press of people getting ripped off by untrustworthy agents, that they didn’t receive the right paperwork, title deeds etc. I therefore wanted to do my homework on the developers and properties I would be representing to make sure that none of this ever happened to my clients. On setting up the business, this ethical approach served us well. We opened an office in the UK and a couple in Turkey. The business grew rapidly from there on in. We have, of course, had our ups and downs, as has the market, but overall I am very happy with Oceanwide Properties and believe a good future lies ahead for us and the Turkish real estate market.”
What was your background before setting up Oceanwide Properties?
“I am originally from Turkey but grew up in Germany. I then lived in the UK for many years managing the finances for a large hotel chain. I had no formal experience in estates but both my family and I had had many dealings with agencies in all three countries. I have always been cautious and methodical, I like things done properly. I did a lot of research before setting up Oceanwide, the rest of the business I learnt by employing the right people and on the job.”
What changes to the Turkey property market have you noticed over the past ten years?
“When we first started up it was definitely a seller’s market. The demand for properties way outweighed the supply. The market was crazy, everyone was building or selling Turkish properties, there were plenty of investors, mainly British, searching for cheap holiday homes. Apartments and villas were going for as little as £15,000.
The market has certainly changed. Buyers today are far more vigilant and it is now a buyer’s market along much of the coast. Horror stories published in the press of those who invested via unprofessional agents, barmen and developers years ago made the new wave of buyers far more cautious. Many of the shoddy agents and developers have thankfully now fallen to the wayside, although that’s not to say that they don’t exist, buyers still need to be careful and do their homework. To avoid any pitfalls, investors need to employ a decent independent lawyer who is familiar with property in Turkey before committing any money into any investment.”
What is the Turkish property market like at the moment?
“The market is still very buoyant. Property prices have increased over the years but real estate in Turkey still represents excellent value for money. Although there is still a demand for holiday homes and retirement properties, far more of our clients today are looking to make their properties pay for themselves. Far more investors are securing buy to let properties in Turkey, keen to reap in the rental rewards on offer. Many of our buyers are making more than 10% of their properties value back each summer by renting them out to holidaymakers over the 6 month tourist season.
Last year also saw amendments to the law making the Turkish property buying process easier. Previously all foreigners used to have to apply for military clearance on their property of interest. Now, if the property, or one on the same complex, has already received military approval since May 2011, the new owner can skip this time consuming process. That means instead of waiting 6 or 8 weeks to complete on a sale, it can done in as little as a day”.
Do you have any advice for investors looking to secure a Turkey property?
- Use a professional, licensed and registered estate agency. “Make sure your agent knows the area and can walk you through the entire purchase process from start to finish. Ask for testimonials, Google the company’s background and get a feel for them way before you come to look at their Turkish properties”.
- Set realistic expectations. “It was once possible to buy a stunning apartment with a sea view for £25,000 but these days have long since gone. Look at your finances at come up with a realistic budget then speak or look at the agents website and note what is realistically achievable for your money. For example, properties typically start at around £45,000 for a small, older apartment around Fethiye, you are really looking at £55,000+ for a decent, good value 2 bed in a popular area.”
- Use an independent Lawyer/Solicitor. “Although legally this not strictly necessary in Turkey, I advise all our clients to seek independent legal advice when buying any Turkish Property. For a relatively small outlay, they can give you peace of mind and potentially save you thousands should something be amiss with the property or the sale”
What have you got planned for Oceanwide Properties in the future?
I’m pleased with our growth and performance over the past 10 years, we weathered the financial storm a few years ago and sales have been up last year and this. Our ethics have remained the same since our set up. We aim to offer all our clients a professional service tailored personally to their needs. We have a strong team now in place. Selda, my new wife, is now the Office Manager, and we developed our company profile by attending major exhibitions like A Place in the Sun where we have stands at all three exhibitions this year.
2015 saw us open a new Turkey property blog and news site (www.oceanwidepropertiesnew.co.uk) which is developing nicely, and we are often mentioned in the local and national media and press, n fact we are featuring in the Guardian’s Money section next week. I guess the next step may be to open franchise offices around Turkey that will use our standardised business model and methods. Overall I am excited about what the future may bring both for Oceanwide Properties and for the Turkish property market in general”.
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