Caveat Emptor

Liam and I love living in our little stone cottage tucked away in the middle of old Bodrum Town. A perilous spark, a sieve-like roof, heat exhaustion and frostbite have not put us off. Our neighbours are a joy and the locals are warm, welcoming and obliging. We feel blessed. We rent and are thankful for the freedom. We can move as we please and when the mood takes us. We have been mercifully released from that inbred notion to own (something we Brits nurture in the womb).

For some, the dream can turn sour. For years now, we’ve read reports about people buying property abroad falling foul of unscrupulous builders, vendors, agents or officials. Some of the stories are enough to make you weep, particularly when the unsuspecting lose their shirts in a single dodgy deal. Sadly, it’s a phenomenon which afflicts many countries around the world – not just Turkey – and the laws which protect such people vary from country to country.

I was recently contacted by a member of the Turkish Living Forum who is fronting a campaign for change in Turkey. He points out that while many people successfully purchase property here, there are plenty of examples of those who have a really rough ride. He’s not alone in this view. The Turkish press is littered with examples of  scams and only last year, police raided the Central Tapu Office in Bodrum.

Of course, fraud can afflict all buyers, foreign and Turkish alike. But for foreigners, coming to grips with the complexities of unfamiliar property law in a foreign land can be a daunting task. Not to mention an emotional one.

Wherever you are willing to splash out, in Turkey or elsewhere, it clearly makes sense to do your homework. Do everything you can to understand the buying process, get good legal advice, don’t be tempted by cost-cutting shortcuts and don’t dish the dosh unless you are absolutely sure that everything is above board. Let’s face it, that’s exactly what you’d do in your own country so why lose your head (and possibly your life savings) when abroad? If it looks too good to be true, the chances are it is. There are plenty of people around who can offer good advice.

Turkey is a fabulous and seductive country to live or invest in. Dreams really can come true if you do it right and the authorities play their part too.


14 thoughts on “Caveat Emptor

  1. Excellent advice Jack. Since we came to Turkey in 1998 we have always rented. We couldn’t afford to buy but I’m glad we couldn’t because of the horror stories. Even if you do buy without problems it’s not always easy to sell here. It took a friend of mine 4 years to sell her house which she eventually had to let go at a considerable loss.
    The house we have now is “ours”…given to us by my FIL. However as he is the head of the family, his name is still on the tapu, as it is on the houses he has also given to his two other children. I’m happy for it to stay that way to be honest.
    It really is time for change. It’s awful to read about so many people who have lost everything rather than achieved their dream.


    1. You’re family now so I sure that works well. Your point about selling is a good one. People should seriously think about the re-sale potential when they buy. A global recession can mean that prices are subdued. This can work in a buyer’s favour if they are willing to hold on for better times. For people expecting a fast return – forget it.


  2. I remember watching a programme years ago called ‘No Going Back’ about an English family who brought a gorgeous newly built property in the South of France only to find the first time it rained that there was no damp proofing and everything flooded. Then on further investigation they discovered that the old man who built the house hadn’t even had planning permission for it and so legally they didn’t even own it…….all their money gone down the drain.

    Like you we have chosen to rent for the last decade or so – although technically seeing as we brought our caravan we do actual own property again now – lol. Not sure I would ever go back to owning bricks and mortar again though. I like the freedom that renting gives and it is so much more common in Europe than in the UK.


    1. These horror stories seem to run and run. I must say in defence in good old Blighty that this kind of thing rarely happens. Thank God for the petty bureaucrat at the local planning office and the efficiency of the Land Registry.


      1. Hmmmm…..unless you have been on the receiving end of it of course!! we built our own house in the Lakes and I can safely say that the most stressful bit of it was getting planning permission and building regs……both worthwhile for sure but they don’t make the process easy!!


  3. I hear you on the ownership thing. Just made me feel tied down the two times I’ve done…although I will have to think of other clever ways to fund my twilight post work years…or eat Tesco Baked Beans 24/7.


  4. We’re fortunate that nothing like this has happened to us in Turkey (she says with hand touching the wooden arm of the sofa).
    We did have a retired couple renting at the back of us last summer. They’re in the middle of a court process that’s been going on for 2 years because the builder had sold their apartment twice near Marmaris. They’d lived there three years and then got a knock on the door from an Istanbul guy who produced the tapu. The guy felt so sorry for them that he bought all their furniture from them at a good price so they could afford to move out. Their life savings were tied up in the apartment.
    So sad and yet they’re always smiling when we see them and they still love living in Turkey. Hopefully, they’ll get a positive result.


  5. . . for J and I buying a plot, designing and having a place built, living here has been a largely positive experience (especially the relationship with our village). That said, knowing what we do now we would have done things very differently and renting would be high on the list of changes. Having the ability to up sticks and wander off somewhere else – even if we never did it – has a lot of allure.
    Over the years we’ve seen dishonesty and greed unstick a lot of foreign buyers – and I’m talking about the foreigners here as they seek to screw the Turkish and UK tax authorities. We’ve also seen the gullible and trusting being screwed by unscrupulous developers and estate agents (and a few lawyers), which really saddens. ‘Caveat Emptor’ indeed!


  6. I hope the post came across as balanced. I didn’t want to Turkey-bash. But, I really do think that something needs to be done to improve the situation. For me to say that problems exist everywhere doesn’t really help those here who’ve lost everything.


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