According to figures prepared by the Turkish Statistical Institute (TÜİK – Türkstat), domestic property sales in general in Turkey, that is including both Turkish and foreign nationals, increased by 3.4% in March 2020 to 108,670 units compared with the same month of the previous year. Following the slump in the property market over the last two years, the improvement in property sales which started in August 2019 has been a welcome development. However, the spread of the coronavirus pandemic against which the government started to introduce precautionary measures in the second half of March to restrict gatherings and movement of the population will no doubt have adversely effected property sales during this month. Property sales had increased by 55.8% and 51.3% in January and February 2020 respectively, and a similar increase may have been expected in March if not for the onset of the virus.
Mortgage sales, which made up 39.9% of all property sales, increased by 90.4% to 43,329 units in March 2020, with the lower bank mortgage loan rates in recent months being the main reason for this improvement.
The number of property units sold for the first time, which made up 31.4% of total property sales, decreased by 22.8% to 34,089 units in March 2020 compared with the same month of the previous year. Used property sales which made up 68.6% of total sales in March 2020 increased by 22.5% to 74,581 units.
For the year 2019, property sales in Turkey were 1,348,729 units, a decrease of 1.9% on the previous year. Mortgage sales, which made up 24.7% of all property sales, increased by 20.1% to 332,508 units in 2019. The number of property units sold for the first time, 511,682 units, which made up 37.9% of total property sales, decreased by 21.5% in 2019 compared with the previous year. Used property sales, with 837,047 units, which made up 62.1% of total sales in 2019 increased by 15.6%.
Property sales to foreigners of 3,036 units in March 2020 showed a 3% decrease on the figure for the same month of the previous year, a 24.2% decrease on the figure for the previous month of February, and represents 2.8% of total domestic sales in Turkey in March 2020. The decrease in sales is no doubt due to the spread of the coronavirus which had started to drastically reduce global travel and caused Turkey to gradually close its borders.
Property sales to foreigners for the year 2019 were 45,483 units, 3.4% of the total, and an increase of 14.7% on the 39,663 units for 2018, which was in turn 78.4% higher than the figure for the previous year 2017. The reason for the high number of property sales to foreigners over the last two years has been the weaker Turkish lira and the government’s easing of citizenship requirements in 2018 for foreigners, who can now obtain Turkish citizenship if they own real estate in Turkey worth a minimum of USD 250,000.
In March 2020, sales to middle-eastern nationals continued at over 50% of the total. Highest sales were to Iranian nationals with 465 units, followed by Iraq nationals with 426 units, Russian nationals with 227 units, Afghan nationals with 184 units, Palestinian nationals with 119 units, Yemen nationals with 113 units, and Azerbaijan nationals with 95 units. In 2019, of the total 45,483 units sold, highest sales were to Iraq nationals with 7,596 units, followed by Iranian nationals with 5,423 units, Russian nationals with 2,893 units, Saudi Arabian nationals with 2,208 units, Afghan nationals with 2,191 units, Kuwait nationals with 1,903 units, German nationals with 1,723 units, Jordanian nationals with 1,596 units, and Yemen nationals with 1,353 units.
Istanbul was the number one province attracting property sales to foreigners with 1,513 units in March 2020. The Mediterranean resort of Antalya was the second most popular province with 584 units, followed by the capitol Ankara with 165 units, the Mediterranean province of Mersin with 110 units, and the north-western provinces of Bursa and Yalova with 93 units and 80 units respectively. Of total sales in 2019 of 45,483 units, 20,857 units were sold in Istanbul, 9,951 units were sold in Antalya, 2,539 units were sold in Ankara, 2,213 units were sold in Bursa, 1,696 units were sold in Yalova, and 1,247 units were sold in Sakarya.