What $1 Million Will Buy In Booming Istanbul

Istanbul — a city known for its Blue Mosque and Hagia Sophia as visitors scan the city skyline. However, their gaze may now rest on the city’s new high-rises going up at a rapid rate.

These new living quarters are attracting Europeans and Middle Easterners who want to live in luxury. The city covers more than 2,000 square miles and is perfectly planted in the middle of Europe and Asia, which makes it a cultural hub and destination. Buyers are flocking to the new luxury developments due to the reasonable cost of living and the country’s economic and political stability.

Turkey’s prices of prime properties rose 13.8% between the first quarter of 2013 and the first quarter of 2014, dubbing this country one of the top four property markets in the world. After doing the math, around $1 million would buy a 1,045 square footluxury property in the heart of Istanbul. Doesn’t sound like much? Comparatively, this same amount would only buy 271 square feet in London, and 433 square feet in Manhattan.

Experts attribute rising (yet still affordable) home prices to the city’s unchecked population growth, which has actually lead to antigovernment demonstrations over the past year. Today, 15 million people live in this Middle Eastern mecca. Another reason for the rising prices? Turkish people simply love buying real estate.

“As the world economy grows, we continue to see growth in foreign investors purchasing luxury custom homes in the U.S. market.” Stated Chad Burlingame, with Arthur Rutenberg Homes, one of the U.S’s largest luxury custom homebuilders.

Istanbul’s growing economy, pent-up demand, competitive mortgage rates and affordable home prices will keep the country’s housing on an upward trajectory through 2015, and beyond. “BUSINESS QUOTE regarding percentage of people building new homes, projected number of luxury home sales this year, etc.”

Residents are flocking to the outskirts of the city due to pollution issues, parking problems, and government restrictions on making upgrades to the historic Sultanahmet area. Therefore, luxury home builders have headed seven miles northeast of the historic part of town to a quiet waterfront neighborhood where celebrities and millionaires go to relax.In this area, known as Bebek, houses can sell anywhere from $15 million to $100 million, depending on whether buyers are looking for waterfront property or not.

Aside from Bebek, the wealthy can also choose from an apartment in a new high rise or a villa situated out of town. Adil Yaman, executive manager of Universal 21 estate agents, stated that the apartments are usually catered towards singles, couples, and investors, while families have generally flocked to the out of town villas which offer a better environment for raising children.

Locals expressed concern about the long-term impact this housing boom will have on their economy. “If for some reason the Middle Eastern buyers went somewhere else then I think we would be in trouble,” said Yaman.

The concern mostly rests on preserving Turkish culture, and although the government has set policies emphasizing religious education in the city’s schools, many people are still worried about the influx of immigrants and their cultural impact.

Fatih Tuna of Spot Blue Overseas Property believes that Turkey’s openness toward various cultures will actually end up preserving their native culture.

“My belief is that Istanbul is on the rise,” he said. “We need to sell the fact that we are European as much as Eastern; we are cultural, historical — and moderate. It is our most important selling point.”

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