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July home sales sharp drop in Turkey

According to House Sale Statistics released Monday by the Turkish Statistical Institute, 85,101 houses changed hands in Turkey in July. Of those sales, 1,473 were sold to foreigners, with approximately half of them in Antalya, the country's holiday hot spot, the government's statistics show. Following the holiday resort province of Antalya, where 569 houses were sold to foreigners, Istanbul ranked second in foreign property sales with 416 properties. The southwestern province of Aydın ranked third with 104 properties. Julian Walker, director at Spot Blue International Property which deals with property in prime Turkish areas like Istanbul, said "I would also expect sales to drop during the summer months as well with various holidays in effect. The recent elections might have also held some people off from buying until they saw the outcome." Turkey's All Real Estate Agents Federation President Haci Ali Taylan opined that the increase in the number of houses sold in July was artificially inflated and could be traced back to two reasons: The first is the holy month of Ramadan which began on June 28 this year and which saw the postponement of landowners and buyers to either buy or sell property.  The second reason could be attributed to the presidential elections which were held during the summer holiday on August 10.  Those interested in buying or selling property wanted to see the outcome of the results before any investment decisions were made.

Taylan also stated Turkey offers competitively priced property to foreign buyers, Turkish hospitality, a more economical lifestyle and affordable shopping compared to their native countries. “These reasons make investors eager to buy properties in the country,” he said.

Taylan said the real estate market would see an increase in activity, particularly following the end of the holy month of Ramadan and at the end of the election.

“Now we can see that banks have started to cut mortgage interest rates. The next 20 to 30 years in the real estate sector will continue to grow in the country because of the demand,” he said.

Turkish Banks offer mortgage loan interest rates in the country between 0.81 to 1.25 percent monthly.

In the overall sales, Istanbul has maintained its top spot with just over 20 percent of house transfers. The capital, Ankara, and the western province of Izmir followed, with 11.1 and 6.2 percent shares respectively.

Figures show that home sales have been rising over the years in Turkey, as the number of houses sold increased from 701,621 in 2012 to 1,157,190 in 2013, while 12,181 houses were sold to foreigners. Almost 40 percent of houses in 2013 were bought using a home loan.

On January 28, the Central Bank more than doubled its borrowing rate from 3.5 percent to 8 percent, and raised the lending rate from 7.75 percent to 12 percent to protect the Turkish Lira from losing its value further against foreign currency.

The hikes in interest rates was expected to negatively affect the ability of mortgage borrowers to obtain new loans. Homes sold with mortgages accounted for 33 percent of those sold in Turkey in May.

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