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Turkey Has a Real Estate Slam Book

November 24, 2010

The current government, as Ms. Doffing so clearly put it, has their bureaucracy in place to make the decrees they want to see. There’s a board for this and a board for that, and the board makes decrees and the right judges are promoted to make it legal and yeah, this sentence is oversimplistic, but you get the idea.

There’s also some people in charge of deciding about foreign land ownership in Turkey. Their decisions on which passportees get to own what is really pretty fascinating and amusing. It reads like the Plastics’ slam book of Mean Girls renown.

My guess (L-R): Erdogan, Cicek, Davutoglu, Gul

The most well-known of the rulings are that citizens of other countries prohibited from owning more than 99,000 square meters of land. Except for citizens of Israel or Greece, which can’t own any. They are, however, able to own houses along with every other country’s citizens. Citizens of Iran, Saudi Arabia, Syria, and the Gulf States have no limits to the amount of land they can buy or sell land.

This is creepy base-pandering, of course. It’s awfully strange and does remind some of the Dubai Ports World Controversy in the US. It’s a message being sent that we’re ok with stuff being owned by foreigners, but it depends on the foreigner. And while 99,000 square meters is of course an awful lot amount of land, this would prevent large industrial projects or other such. It’s a bit less symbolic and more realist than it seems at first glance, and yeah, it’s kind of weird.

There’s also a trade organization, some sort of “real estate and goods” organ that is called “Karşılılık” or “with trade-ness” that is making some sort of agreements with foreigners, as well. From the few sentences given and the fact that karsililik is actually kind of impossible to google, it seems like its a sort of Customs Union Turkey is trying to set up. Foreigners from X countries will be able to operate in Turkey as long as they adhere and submit to Turkish law. The list of countries with a full agreement is long and distinguished:

Germany, USA, Andorra, Argentina, Australia, Austria, Bahamas, Bangladesh, Barbados, Belgium, Belize, Benin, Bolivia, BiH, Botswana, Brazil, Denmark, Dominica, Ecuador, El Salvador, Estonia, Cote d’Ivoire, Philippines, Finland, Franse, Gabon, Gana, Guinea, Grenada, Guatemala, Guyana, South Africa, Haiti, Croatia, Netherlands, Honduras, England, Ireland, Spain, Switzerland, Sweden, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Cameroon, Canada, N. Cyprus, Columbia, South Korea, Costa Rica, Latvia, Lichtenstein, Luxembourg, Lithuania, Hungary, Malawi, Malaysia, Mali, Malta, Mauritius, Mexico, Monaco, Mauritania, Mozambique, Nigeria, Nicuragua, Norway, CAR, Panama, Paragua, Peru, Poland, Portugal, San Marino, Senegal, Serbia, Singapore, Somalia, Sri Lanka, Swaziland, Chile, Tanzania, Urugua, Venezuela, New Zealand, Cape Verde Islands.

As I said, quite a list. And from all over, really. It’s also worth noting that though I translated the list, the original flaunts Cote d’Ivoire’s request that their French name be used internationally.

It’s really fun to compare this list to the list of countries that only have the agreement for construction:

Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Belarus, Chad, China, Morocco, Georgia, Iran (with 5 years of residence and the ministry’s signature) Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kyrgyzstan, (FYR) Macedonia, Egypt, Moldova, Namibia, Uzbekistan, Romania, Russia, Slovenia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uganda, Ukraine, and Jordan.

This is an even weirder list of countries. A lot of these are the sort of satellite countries that Turkish firms do a lot of construction in. But then China and Russia are in there, too. And I’m really curious how Kenya and Uganda got on this list, but Mozambique and Mali were on the other. What’s the rationale for that, on both sides? It’s obvious that the second list is countries that Turkey is somewhat closer to (except for Northern Cyprus, of course?), and thus unable to make the sort of vaguely principled deals that you can make without actual real trade, but it’s still kind of weird. Turkish-Ukrainian relationships are…well, not that interesting, more than anything else. Though I’d love for someone to prove me wrong in the comments.

So Turkey seems to have some love for some countries, more for others, and OMG! Can you believe that Jordan was sitting with Chad at lunch? I can’t believe we promised to build that hotel for the, next thing you know they’re going to be off with Mali at prom! The comparison of Israel and Greece with Saudi and Syria is especially juvenile.

That said, I haven’t seen this in English yet, so mostly I wanted to translate it for non-Turkophones to cite. So please feel free to do so. And for those people who are really plugged in to the Turkish Real Estate Market, I’d love to hear more from you on what’s going on here, because I’m not sure. I have heard rumors of a near-$700 book on how to, let’s say, leverage the market to your benefit, but that’s a different story. What’s going on here?

But we shouldn’t criticize or ask too troubling of questions, of course, because Turkey is the only real country in the Middle East. Harvard told me so. Oh well. Let’s just hope that if its a real country, it can take real criticism.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. Rebecca permalink*
    November 24, 2010 12:09 pm

    It most certainly is in English: 😉
    And it should be pointed out that this is a draft from the Ministry of Housing and Public Works, which isn’t even that major of a ministry, so the chances of it being fully implemented are I’d say slim to none. If the bit mandating the military draw up a map of exactly where its “restricted areas” are stays, though, I’d call that a win.

  2. November 26, 2010 5:13 pm

    Isn’t it just “karşılık” – the requirement for reciprocity? That is: “If we can’t buy land in your country, you can’t in ours”? Or am I being naive?

    • Asher permalink
      November 26, 2010 7:31 pm

      Customs Union was probably or definitely the wrong analogy. My English skills in this article are generally lacking. But yeah, its just some sort of agreement on a per-country basis. I sincerely doubt Turkey treats Germany and the Cape Verde Islands the same.

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