Global views: Bodrum property still hot for international buyers

By Chris Drum Berkaya

Foreigners may be amazed to learn that many of the second and holiday homes in Muğla were built pre-mortgage era, when co-op style organizations provided a route to ownership for Turkish citizens. They led the way for the property boom.

Today, the Bodrum Peninsula attracts a global mix of interests and buyers. Bodrum- and London-based realtor Property Turkey quotes a diverse combination of clients. There are Polish and Kuwaitis, Mexicans and British. Younger families interested in full-time residential homes in the Konacık area close to all amenities, high-end investors and second- or third-home buyers of unique taste. All are building houses in the Yalıkavak area.

Senior consultant Buket Evci looks at passersby through the window of her Property Turkey office at the Marina in Bodrum Harbor. The A+ location allows them to not only sell property, but also promote Bodrum (and Turkey) as a choice lifestyle. “There are always buyers and sellers,” she told The Guide Bodrum, noting that Property Turkey has sold the six highest-priced mansions on the Bodrum Peninsula. This was due to promoting a “lifestyle and investment” philosophy that has been touted by international press like The New York Times and Financial Times.

Ann Marie Whitehead, sales advisor at The Turkey Property Centre, believes that business activity is still moving at a reasonable pace considering the present political climate and current internal issues in Turkey. Visitors from Arab states such as Qatar, Saudi, Dubai and Kuwait are showing interest in Turkey both in Istanbul and the upmarket coastal regions of Bodrum. “Yalıkavak and Bodrum center are the golden eggs of the peninsula and will always maintain their investment value,” she said.

The number of properties for sale is increasing and they are selling, Whitehead emphasized. “It is the currency exchange rate which is detrimental to foreign sellers, not the value of the property,” she said. “If sellers can sell to a foreign buyer with the same currency, it is better for them.”

Currently, freestanding properties sell well, but as a holiday investment, villa complexes are also popular. Timeshares are definitely a thing of the past.

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Bodrum living

Looking abroad

Flexibility and a global view have taken precedence as the market has changed. One of the leading estate agents, The Turkey Property Centre, has adapted its client base accordingly to attract Arab investors, and now also offers a portfolio of elite properties in Miami, Florida to Turkish and foreign investors. Its showcase properties include a development of four very modern villas in Yalıkavak, with the rare jewel of a private jetty and boat moorings, plus a beach at a complex in Torba.

Whitehead makes a final but very important note saying, “the legalities are tightening up finally in Turkey. Properties must have the correct legal documents, for example living permissions and deeds.”

UK- and Turkey-based Spot Blue International has its main office in Didim, so Jayne Schofield, Aegean Manager, has a broad view of the Aegean coastline and sales situation. She says Bodrum Peninsula is “holding its own,” though there are also steady enquiries for cheaper properties in the Fethiye area.

However, Bodrum doesn’t have as much in the way of lower-priced properties, and Schofield points out a gap in property availability. She explains that if a buyer arrives with USD 140,000 to spend, she struggles to find properties for them to view on Bodrum Peninsula itself. However, if a buyer arrives with more than USD 500,000, there is a wider range to choose from.

Spot Blue is one of few companies interested in the Didim-Güllük coastline, which is being quietly developed with some good value complexes. Around Güllük and Tuzla, both very close to Bodrum airport, there are still apartments being sold for USD 55,000 and upwards. General enquiries are coming from some diverse markets, with the Middle East leading the way. However, there is interest from “global citizens” as well; European or North Americans who have been working and perhaps married abroad who find Bodrum and Turkey an attractive option geographically and culturally for investment, holidays and even retirement.

Bodrum Living

Yalıkavak: a hot spot

Architect-designed, custom-built homes with five to six bedrooms and bathrooms priced at around USD 1,455,000 are offered on the Yalıkavak hillsides. The view is paramount, advertised as “stunning sea views.” The land space versus the building footprint is vast enough to offer more privacy, seclusion and security.

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Taking the place of the well-known timeshare is the new concept of detached villas or residences complete within themselves, but at the same time sharing five-star hotel facilities and services. Spas, pools, restaurants and shops nearby, 24-hour security, a fitness center, temporary or long-term boat moorings, and a maintenance service are available if the investment requires a return. They are sold as family holiday homes, pitched at a certain lifestyle expectation with minimum fuss and sold starting at USD 560,000 up to USD 1,800,000. Not all high-end villas are entirely custom made. You can still join a private enclave complex of superb 500-square-meter villas, each close to USD 2,900,000, depending on individual customization, security, gardeners, and housekeeping services.

A 12-year veteran in Bodrum property, Darren Edwards of Yalıkavak-based Luxury Property Turkey sees a diverse range of nationalities and backgrounds buying in Bodrum, led by the Turkish. Some joke that with Bodrum’s strong domestic demand, it has become “a suburb of Istanbul.” Bodrum property, like its diverse tourism market, has a stronger foundation as it is not reliant on one nationality. Like in other areas, the international buyers are educated world travelers from the Middle East who are buying in Bodrum for the lifestyle, as well as global expats and Europeans, who have long connections with Turkey.

Edwards has seen the Bodrum property market go through the low price, high-volume boom of 2005-2008 when cheap 60-80 square meter villas were selling like hotcakes, and then the dramatic 2008 slump. Since 2012, there has been resurgence in the high-end living bracket. As he points out, “Yalıkavak is definitely the premium residential area and likely to stay that way,” mostly due to its planning permissions requiring a lower percentage building footprint on large blocks of land, ideal for those seeking privacy and space.

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Yalıkavak and the northern coasts have the rarest of properties on Bodrum Peninsula, such as large villas with private waterfront access, which also attract a premium holiday lease market.

Buyers are also looking for contemporary architect-designed buildings, as shown by the Richard Meir project house sold for USD 5,000,000, the Berggruen developments, and now Emre Arolat – internationally renowned Turkish architect, and designer of Palmarina’s successful remake.

Bodrum living

Stone by stone

The stone houses of Bodrum hold a unique place in the property market. There are gems around the peninsula to be found, lived and loved in, secluded or with a view. There are 100 registered stone houses on Bodrum Peninsula.

While many have been lost beneath insensitive rebuilding, there are committed individuals who have taken the time and infinite patience to navigate the planning and Heritage Committee permission process, breathing new life into some superb buildings.

Most are neither large nor on large plots of land, as in the old days, villages were built to be close to each other for community and support. This means the buyer will choose their neighbors as much as the house – indeed an old Turkish saying makes that point.

Then there are the dreamers and doers who build stone villas from the ground up, designed by ustalar (stonemasons) who ensure the homes are conceptually connected to the landscape. These buildings may be available as newly built or, rarely, for resale as they are custom designed to the owner’s wishes.