A tale of two cities: real estate prices in central Istanbul and Budapest

Over the summer, I had the opportunity to explore the real estate scene in Budapest. To be frank, I was quite surprised at how cheap it was (now don’t drop reading and rush off to Budapest just yet…or at least not without calling me first!!!). It really got me thinking. I was looking at quality, un-renovated historical properties in reasonably good locations that were going for under 1000 euro per sqm. I have been in a lot of European capitals over the years, yet I have not found prices like that anywhere, even in raunchy Bucharest or relative backwater places such as Sofia.
The prices are less than half that of equivalent properties in Istanbul, which is not even part of Europe, a.k.a ‘the bubble belt’.
I reflected on this at length and I came up with a few pseudo-theories that I think stack up.
Apart from the obvious economic facts which any economist could rap off in their sleep… such as Istanbul’s being one of the fastest growing dynamic mega-cities  or its geopolitical importance in the 21st century, bridging Europe and Asia, etc…are the other, less tangible reasons why I feel real estate prices are higher in Istanbul and will likely surge higher. Much like Moscow, New York, and the undisputed king, London.

In Istanbul, you can buy anything and at ANY TIME. It defines the insomniac modern city. And everybody is selling something. It is deeply immersed in the culture, so much so that I am appalled at how concerned I have become about the price of trivial items, of one kind or another, I have been indoctrinated. When my friend buys a new pair of socks, I cant resist…’how much?’ In Istanbul, dinner parties often deteriorate into a game of monopoly, where people call out street names and prices of property. In Budapest, I suspect doing so at a dinner party would be met with, ‘go directly to jail. Do not pass go.’ a major social faux pas.
By contrast, In Budapest, nothing is open on Sundays and it felt perpetually as if it were a Sunday afternoon, even on Friday night. It lacked bustle, not to mention hustle. Lovely for relaxing, not so great if you want to make real estate skyrocket (not that I do).

Estate agents looked at me with suspicion, whereas in Istanbul they salivate; often sleeping, drinking and chatting in their offices until all hours. In Europe, the baseline for all commercial activity seems to peak at about 35 hours a week. That would be a good weekend for our unshaven, slightly dishevelled Istanbul hack property agent.
On a more technical note, the big difference in city center prices between the two capitals is the transportation reality.
In Budapest, an area that takes 15 minutes to get to by public transportation is considered a bit out of the way, and by no means central.
15 minutes in Istanbul can be chewed up just walking to the nearest metro stop, or getting through a set or two of lights while on the bus.
Obviously, if you work downtown in Istanbul, you lose an enormous amount of time if you live outside the city center. Throw in high gas prices and it becomes  a bit more apparent the factors that drive up prices in central areas. It can be a false economy to rent or buy on the outskirts of the city.

Budapest street scene

Population is a big factor, though so obvious as hardly worth mentioning. Istanbul belongs with Asian giants at an estimated 20 million.

Istanbul street scene

On a psychological level, our Magyar (Hungarian) brothers, seem to have a bit of a grudge, as if history had been unkind to them, which it often, indeed, was.
Contrast that with the Turks, who are walking with more of a swagger these days and harking back to their Imperial past and Ottoman glory. How does this reflect real estate prices, you ask?  Perhaps the sense of belonging at the top of the heap gives a bit of confidence, dare I say arrogance, to its possessors.

One of the final points I would like to make concerns the demand and supply side.
Istanbul, though a large and sprawling city, has an undersupply of well-established and beautiful neighborhoods, so the ones that fit this bill, command very high prices. Most of the neighborhoods and building stock are pretty drab and unattractive. Therefore, areas like Bebek, Nisantisi, and parts of Beyoglu are in demand due to their attracive old buildings or sea views.

In Budapest, lovely old historical buildings are a dime a dozen. The architecture is cohesive and the neighborhoods often blend imperceptibly into one another.  People will pay more to live in the popular second district than they will to live in the grittier eighth district, but the divide is not as great as that between Nisantisi (4000 euro per sqm)and some barrio on the Asian Side of Istanbul (400 euro).

And comparing the Bosphorous with the Danube? Like comparing Pele and Ronaldhino, my friend…

Bosphorous

Danube

In my entry next week, I would like to continue with some future predictions on real estate prices for both cities. I hope you will be interested in what I have to say on this. By the way, it hit 30 degrees today, the middle of October. Add that to your reasons to come to Istanbul!!!

What’s going on in Istanbul this fall?

Wondering what you can do in Istanbul during the last warm days of an Indian summer? Well, if the hundreds of trendy new cafes and restaurants that have sprouted up throughout the city don’t keep you busy enough, why not take in one of the many festivals that enrich the city’s cultural life so much?

In October there is a jazz festival, it’s not huge with little commercialism, but very low key and delivering great jazz. Archie Shepp and Cecil Taylor have turned out in the past so dont miss it as they’ll be some laid back legends jamming around. For more info: 0212 334 010. http://www.pozitif.info/tr/festival/2012/akbank-22-caz-festivali/228/

Social Inclusion Band

If you are one of the growing legions who enjoy documentary films check out this festival which runs in November. Most of the venues are located around Beyoglu, so you can just give me a ring when the film is finished! http://www.1001belgesel.net/en/Default.aspx  Admission is free.

Also in November is the popular Istanbul International Short Film Festival (Uluslararası Istanbul Kısa Film Festivali), which has showings in Beyoglu and at the wonderful Istanbul Modern (which is a venue worth whiling away a half day or so in its own right). Admission is free. Who said you need to have millions to enjoy Istanbul?
0212 252 5700  http://www.istanbulfilmfestival.com/

Istanbul Modern

Drop me a line if you know of any other great events coming up and I will be sure to add it to our space. Enjoy, folks!

The Renovation Trap

I often walk into a property that a client or friend has recently renovated with a slight degree of trepidation. I have many things to consider, is it worth telling the truth and alienating a friend…or a client? Have they done what is logical in relation to the market and should I tone down any subjective reaction I may have to what they have done with the property? I rarely enter into detail about what they have spent. That is of less concern. I worry about the final product.

At times, I have had good reason for this fear, as I have seen many a fine property degraded by a poor or personalized renovation. But, happily to say, in Beyoglu particularly in the past few years, I have mostly been happily surprised with property renovations rather than disappointed. There are a lot of creative and bright people around and they invariably come up with something great, at times even jaw dropping and inspirational.

Here’s an example – 

This property is simple with easy clean design, without getting to engrossed in high design. Please see the full listing and photos on http://www.lilimont-istanbul-realestate.com/for-sell/residential-apartment-cihangir-3/

The problem with a poor renovation is that in addition to the expense, it often actually decreases the value or salability of a property. Quite often, it would have been better to leave the property un-renovated and to sell it as is. The paradox, too, is that the same people who implement a poor renovation are the ones who also expect a high premium for their dubious efforts. Of course, there exists a fine line between having a renovation budget and cutting corners. It is also a combination of the quality of materials and the workmanship involved. As finishing and design standards can be a bit low, it is imperative to ensure that the these are in line with the value and location of the property and that the materials used are neither too far above the market norm, nor too far below. Unless the owner has zero need for a future resale it is imperative to assess the salability of a property before embarking on a costly renovation.

Here’s another good one – 

This apartment utilizes a lot of the Turk Ottoman influence invoking an Agatha Christie era without getting too fussy. http://www.lilimont-istanbul-realestate.com/for-sell/residential-apartment-aynali-cesme-3/

I work with a group of International developers who have developed properties throughout Europe and their view is that in an area experiencing redevelopment, such as central Istanbul, an influx of owners from different countries tend to raise the stakes regarding renovation and quality finish. For example, an owner from Berlin may insist on a very high finish level and a Roman owner will quite possibly want to utilize a higher degree of design. This has happened in central Istanbul over the past 10 years and it’s readily evident that local tradesmen and architects are upping their game to meet these requirements. An International influence will also help direct the design trend in-line with the current ‘zeitgeist’ as opposed to lagging behind, which in itself will attract buyers. It is a combination of current International design with a Turkish cultural foundation that provides the most salable properties.

To undertake a renovation project without paying heed to current trends is to invite potential disaster. It is a bit like a surgeon performing surgery without being updated on current research in his or her field.

As a team, my partners and I have now renovated countless properties over the past 15 years, we can confidently say we know how to refurbish an apartment economically and to a degree that allows an easy onward sale. http://www.lilimont-istanbul-realestate.com/

Turkish Vs Foreigners part 2

In last week’s blog we discussed client purchasing habits A La Turca and saw how cool our Turkish brethren can be while making important investments.

On the other hand, foreign buyers seem to come to the battle field with significantly more information and much higher expectations from their realtors. In this, they could be said to be the opposite from Turkish buyers, though variations exist from nation to nation, with Germans, as if by some genetic pre-disposition, are at the top when it comes to preparedness and fastidiousness,  and the İtalians, apart from their insistence on square meter pricing, closer to the Turkish end of the spectrum.

As a general rule, foreigners typically do not make an offer on a property until they have had a good survey of the market. They tend to ask the realtor many questions and are quite prepared to offer a free lunch to get them! At least that is my excuse for my chronic battle to keep trim.

The issues that they most focus on are: legal issues, local planning and renovation codes, prices of course, rental laws, and down the road projections for re-sale, just to mention a few. They are also very fond of local tales of the past that give them insight into the neighborhoods. So, I always try to have a few of these on hand while we wait for a sleepy relative of some property owner to fumble for misplaced keys.

İn general, I like working with foreign clients for the reason that they do come to appreciate any knowledge or expertise I may have in the area.

The main task is to try and demonstrate the parallel lines in what often seems a jumbled and bewildering real estate market. And they do exist, and there are some wonderful opportunities in Istanbul, but at times, if one focuses too much on the details, they can often miss the bigger picture. Istanbul is, at present, an Alpha economy and things are developing at break neck speed. Neighborhoods and streets are changing rapidly. What was considered expensive last year, is now the norm.  Bosphorous property has become a global commodity and people from every corner want their piece nearly as much as they want property in Knightsbridge. These are some of the issues that foreigners, who are often not here on a day to day basis, have a hard time adjusting to. Finding value is best achieved through doing homework and working with someone who knows the scene and is patient to explain it to you. I can put you in touch with one such fellow if you leave your mobile number!

Just a few humorous (er..) anecdotes, on the nationalities and their real estate quirks.

The French:  always the most dramatic, prone to using ooh la la in excess. But don’t be fooled. They are ferocious bargainers.

The English: most prone to scoffing at cheap prices. They can hardly reveal their delight at a good, low price. I pre-coach them not to do this in seller’s ear shot. Luckily for us they have been conditioned by sky high London prices.

Russians: most likely to crush bones in a handshake. Is this an ‘in’ joke of theirs? Meeting with Russian clients…note to self…remove all rings.

Italians: still most likely to be very late and almost make up for it by giving you a sly wink and a wide grin.

Americans: true to form, seem to have an almost primordial obsession with the availability of parking. I usually lightly jibe that instead of buying one flat, they should just buy the whole building and turn the entrance floor into a garage. İt becomes a kind of Eureka moment for them and I am sure they never look at another building in the same way again.

Asians: masters of the great disappearing act. Nowhere to be found on İstanbul real estate scene. I suspect they are en route, backtracking the Spice Route. Though I did hear some rumours lately about Singaporean giants lurking the waters. How exciting!

Turkish V Foreigners Part 1 + spot Johnny Foreigner

As a 2 part study over the next 2 weeks I will assess the differences between Turkish and foreign buyers, with a liittle game at the end!

While selling real estate in İstanbul,  it can be quite interesting to observe the differences in how Turkish and foreign clients arrive at their decisions to buy a piece of Istanbul real estate. No doubt it is a bricks and mortar world, but the psychology of the buyer is much more liminal and indeterminate than we may often imagine.

Firstly, after much experience, when I meet for the first time with a Turkish client, I do not go out of my way to demonstrate any particular knowledge on property in Istanbul, which is quite odd when you think of it. But one must understand the cultural context of the encounter. As a Real Estate Agent, the bestowed social status in Turkey is quite low, with probably about the same status given as to any tradesman (or lady). Many of my clients are newly minted rich and on the rise fast, and they have a few ideas of their own. Realty and property, as a profession, used to be to a large extent the domain of early-retired government workers, or in many cases the Kapici (bldg superintendent), who get their start by doing side deals with the properties under their management.

Needless to say, the profession as a whole is very much in its infancy. There are wide, sweeping reforms being discussed that would probably make it the playground of smartly dressed, multi-lingual young college grads. But for now, it is certainly not that. Think playground, Congo-style.

So with the Turkish “musteri” ( client, pronounced mooshteri) I opt for a low key profile and a certain humility (veiled, anyway) in front of my chirpy Turkish buyers. They usually assume that as a foreigner that your knowledge is very incomprehensive and incomplete. They also frequently come armed with a an extended crowd of relatives and it is not uncommon to have three generations being towed along on the tour. Now, I am hardly going to dive into a headlong debate on the merits or demerits of a particular property, being outnumbered as it were.

And the clients seem to play along well with this game, hardly deigning to ask me a question throughout, while they squabble and generally offer plenty of rich commentary amongst themselves during the process.

The really peculiar part of it all is… and I will contrast this with your typical foreign property buyer later…that Turkish buyers seem strangely oblivious to most of the normal metrics on real estate; rental yields, types of mortgages, property appraisals, square meter prices, interest rates, and so on. And this happens to be where I shine.

That is not to say they make poor decisions. They do not, they just arrive at them a different way. They are more intuitive and quite perceptive. They don’t use data to make their decisions (these are of course all generalizations). They seem to have a natural ‘feel’ about the location and price dynamic for a property.

And they do not seem to take well to the hard sell or the used car seller’s methods. They seem to like to be left alone to make their decisions whether they be with clan or solo for the day. And I respect that; in some ways even like it, though it does leave me feeling like the Maytag repairman at times.

So while Kemal, his wife and her brother and father enter the penthouse flat on the Bosphorous, I stand obsequiously in the backdrop somewhere, getting a positive jab in every now and then, “My, lovely original flooring, isn’t it?”

To be continued next week.

As a little light relief after that “highly” informative blog I’ve devised a game. I’m now exceptionally adept at spotting where a potential client hails from at 100 paces, feel free to have a go yourself and see if you can spot their great nation:

Renting in this big beautiful City

People who are familiar with the Istanbul real estate scene know that the rents in the city center are pretty high and the market is reasonably dynamic, producing a good yield if the property is purchased at the right price.

Not all of our clients are purchasers of Istanbul property, however.  Many come to us seeking long term rental properties in Istanbul city center, normally because they have been relocated by their company or a new job beckons. Luckily, we have lots of expertise in this area and we do our best to help clients find the best value, whether it be for a budget studio or a glamorous penthouse apartment in a luxurious compound.

High end luxury in a signature development

with a view to die for

It is hard to nail down per sqm prices in the neighborhoods because they really vary greatly from street to street and can also be based on the quality of the building.

In general, however, a furnished 1 bedroom apartment in a decent neighborhood with quality construction, starts from around 1800 TL or approx. 1000 USD and 2 bedroom apartments are on average about 20% more. Naturally, the price jumps up significantly with a sea view.

Great value with a superb terrace

http://www.lilimont-istanbul-realestate.com/rent/ 

Contracts are typically one year. If you plan to stay longer than a year, make sure you are aware of any rental increases prior to signing a contract. If you are not familiar with the language, have somebody along to help you with the contract process who is familiar. Mostly, the contracts are standard, but they should be read and understood prior to signing.

A note on the landlords. Unfortunately, in Turkey, the landlords are quite hands off, except when it comes time to collect the rent! You are assumed to take care of small items that need repair by yourself. Larger issues should be brought to their attention and should be handled by them. In our experience, if you pay the rent on time and keep the place in reasonable condition, the tenant/landlord relationship should be amicable.

Have a look at a few of our stunning rental offers this season…. http://www.lilimont-istanbul-realestate.com/rent/ . If there’s nothing to your fancy on my site then give me your needs, we’ll put the feelers out and I’ll don my detective mac…. our team enjoy a task and a city search.

Life, business and sport during Ramadan in Istanbul

Most foreigners who have not lived in a Muslim country will probably be surprised to hear that the holy month of Ramadan is not just about abstinence and self-restraint. Undoubtedly, for the devout, from dusk til dawn it is exactly that, with no food or even water being allowed to pass their lips for the duration. And of course, smoking is also forbidden during daylight hours. This kind of rigorous denial is often the focus of media attention.

But there is another side to Ramadan; the festive one that begins with the breaking of the fast and carries on late into the night. Lavish and extended meals compensate for the deprivations of the daytime and it is a time for family and reunions and an overflowing of life onto the streets. When Ramadan occurs during the summer months, as it has for the past few years due to the secret machinations of the moon, daytime activities slow down immeasurably as a result of the heat and the fasting. İt is a spiritual time and time for reflection, but it mixes in a good bit of old fashion family fun, too. As Ramadan nears its end, there is a Bayram holiday which could be said to be the equivalent of Christmas, where children receives gifts, mostly monetary, and people return to their native cities and villages to visit family and old friends.

The end of a long hard day

 

Personally, from a real estate perspective, we, too, like to consider this a time of reflection and we try not to worry about closing many deals during this period. We try to immerse ourselves in the spirit of the month and trust that Allah will keep food on the table in coming months.

İt is also a good time for planning, as traffic in the office slows to a halt. We often take a holiday and get recharged for what is usually a busy fall.

Finally, as Ramadan coincides with the Olympics, a word on how it affects sporting life.

Some people I know, though you may find it hard to believe, actually play squash while fasting. İ was stunned when one of my regular partners insisted on playing during the daytime. İ brushed him off, saying it would be too easy for me if he were fasting. Yet, when we did finally play, I was nothing short of flabbergasted to see that he actually performed at a high level. And here is Spartan me, who can barely muster up the natural strength to get out of the house without my two cups of coffee in the morning!!!

So, some athletes competing in the Olympics will fast and still perform, something for which they should get a separate medal for! In rare cases there are certain exceptions that can be made for fasting, however these instances are very unique and complex, and in some of these cases the fasting days can be made up at a later date.

Go Turkey Go

 

İn any event, whether you be laboring under the fast or not, let us take the time to celebrate this annual, yet unique and mystical event.

Kolay gelsin (Turkish)… ‘Let it come easy’

The Tarlabasi File (Part 2)

In this weeks blog I will follow on from my last blog/report and try and breakdown the micro zones of Tarlabasi and offer my view of their future potential.

Currently, the Tarlabasi neighbourhood consists of three distinct small zones: the section that is closest to Taksim square (see map below A), where much organic property regeneration has already occurred, the Municipality backed regeneration zone (see map below B) in the centre where the demolition and construction of the real estate is underway and the last part being the lower area that lies closest to Galatasaray and the Golden Horn (see map below C).

The areas all have a markedly different feel and will all no doubt be influenced by the project.

First of all, perhaps the easiest to predict will be the outcome in the project area (marked B on map). The project company has already set up a sales office on Tarlabasi Blvd and the prices they are quoting for the end product are $5000 per square meter, plus VAT. The brochures are full of glossy pictures of pristine buildings, with plenty of glass and steel and resembling the old style buildings with their signature bay windows ( http://www.tarlabasiyenileniyor.com/)

Currently being flattened and…….

….this is what’s going in

The project is mixed-use, with offices, hotels, commercial, and residential. At these prices, their target market is likely to be wealthy Turks, Western investors and wealthy Arabs. Rumour has it that the marketing is being heavily directed towards the Middle East. We have been buying a few properties on the outskirts of the regeneration for a few years and expect to make an exceptional return. We believe that there are still opportunities especially if you, like us, do believe in an extended price hike once the project is finished.

One of ours bordering the regeneration project

İn the area next to Taksim (marked A on map), there has been a small explosion of property restorations over the past 5 years. Walking through this neighborhood, you can already see the presence of at least twenty apartment style hotels, as well as various short-term residences. Side by side with relatively run-down buildings, these stand out with their newly plastered and painted exteriors. There is also a vibrant rental market here. İt is looking less and less like the old Tarlabasi and fast becoming more like a mini Cihangir everyday.

İn the final area (marked C on map), extending from main artery of Kalyoncu Street to Omer Hayyam the regeneration has been less rapid, but now with a couple of hotel projects underway, as well as the regeneration project itself, it seems set to take off. The prices here are about 20 percent cheaper than non-project Tarlabasi, so we feel it is the target for investment. İn addition, it is within a few yards of İstiklal Street and the highly trendy neighborhoods of Tunel, Galata, and Asmali Mescit.

Bargains to be had here

Needless to say, the mega project will bring much needed infrastructure to the whole Tarlabasi area which will enhance Tarlabasi greatly. Whichever way you look at it, it seems very likely that the area as a whole will smash through the current property price levels of $1250- $1500per square metre very soon and will head Northwards on a steep price trajectory for a good 5-10 years hence.

The Tarlabasi File (part 1)

A stones throw North of Istiklal Street in central Istanbul lies the Tarlabasi neighborhood comprising of over a 1000 relatively small buildings and quaint townhouses. Many years ago these properties were inhabited by Greeks, Armenians, the Jewish community, and a host of other ethnic minorities. Created in the latter half of the 19th Century by the trading classes from these far flung places who dealt in the bazaars by day and in the evening returned to their families in the close knit Tarlabasi community.  Major political events led to the emptying out of these neighbourhoods and further events in Turkey, mainly massive inward immigration to Istanbul from the countryside, led to this becoming an area predominantly inhabited by Kurdish\Anatolian\ Roma (gypsy). The Tarlabasi neighborhood went into a long period of decline as the new immigrants did not have the financial means to keep the building stock well maintained. Many were also unaware of the original features in the properties and painted over, knocked down or otherwise degraded the historical integrity.

Historically ornate Tarlabasi

Up until the last 5-7 years, it appeared that the decay of the neighborhood was irreversible. It became a no-go zone for most Turks. It was the ‘Bronx” of Istanbul.

  

But then fortune’s wheel started to spin slowly in favour of regeneration. Brave local buyers with some International experience saw run-down neighborhoods abroad that were this close to the centre of a major city were subject to similar cyclical rises and falls and found the prices for this real estate in the city center too good to pass up. Also, due to the classical Greek, French and Italian architecture of the properties in the area, English men, mad dogs, and a few persistent French nationals started to invest in the future of this goth-land.

Tarlabasi has always been an interesting, yet controversy-plagued area. And throughout this so-called gentrification period ( I prefer the term regeneration), it has been no different.

The construction giant, Calik Holding, has joined forces with the Beyoglu Municipality and has purchased over 270 buildings over 8 blocks (Tarlabasi re-generation scheme www.tarlabasiyenileniyor.com/ ). The plan is to give Tarlabasi a massive face lift and raise its profile on par with many of the most chic neighborhoods worldwide. The mayor of Beyoglu, Ahmet Demircan, has called it Turkey’ s Champs De Elysee. Salesmanship and bravado aside, it is a mega-project the likes of which Turkey has never seen.

click on the master plan below for a larger view-

But, alas, as in the past, Tarlabasi has has been a harsh master and has often shone its light on some only to leave others in its shade. Many local residents have opposed the development, although it should be noted that many are also in favour of it, a lot have sold their properties directly to the developer. In an area where rumours spread like cricketeers on a patch of green on a mild punjabi afternoon, the municipality probably could have handled the PR end of matters with more aplomb.

There were lots of questions about where displaced peoples would end up. And some rumours persisted over the total final build area.

In any event, it is hard to imagine a perfect solution to the problems that have dominated this neighborhood for so long. As one local resident, Mustafa, said to me a couple of years ago, ” What should happen? Should nothing be done until the buildings turn to brick dust? Already, they are almost falling down on our heads. If something is not done soon, there will be nothing left to protect.”

In my blog next week, we will leave aside the thorny issues of the past and do our best to soothsay Tarlabasi’s future, however quixotic our enterprise may be.

The Tarlabasi Gang!

A new day and a new client

It’s another cloudless day with thermometers topping 30 degrees here in Istanbul and I have a full line-up for the day. At 1030 am I am meeting with my client Patrick, a UK national with an eye for a good property investment (read more below). After that I will meet with a few Turkish clients who are looking to snap up some property before they head off for the coastal regions (Bodrum, Antalya, Fethiye) for a good part of the summer. Turks love their extended summer holidays and many who can afford it, have a yazlik (summer home) on the Aegean. The plus side of this is that it seems to ease the traffic in Istanbul, as these motorists are replaced by peripatetic tourists.

  

To finish off, I will be dining in the chic 360 restaurant with a few squash buddies (life isn’t all toil, after all!!). http://360istanbul.com/eng/index1.html

  

Patrick has agreed to a quick interview allowing us to probe the mind set of an International buyer-

First Patrick, would you mind telling us a bit about yourself and what brings you to Istanbul and why you are planning to buy property in Beyoglu? I came to Istanbul to expand my business in an area that has until now bucked the European recession trend. It also interests me because it is such a vibrant place and has become increasingly important as a regional power…. and of course, the cost, a room with a view in Paris or Rome would be five times more expensive.

What type of property are you interested in? I have a strong preference for a historical property in a very central location.

What is your expectation in terms of the investment? I plan to purchase, renovate and rent for at least 5 years, after which time I will assess whether to sell or not. I guess I am more of a long term investor.

What is a property turn off? Complex ownership titles, impractical layouts with little space for alteration, generic apartment developments.

What attracts you to a property? Proximity to lively neighbourhoods, well designed internal aspect that maximises space and utilises natural light, terrace and views always a bonus but can’t be expected.

What do you feel is the biggest obstacle a foreigner faces when hunting for property in Istanbul? Finding information and language barrier.

What has been your coolest experience in Istanbul? Rooftop party with Bosphorous view.

Which local footie team do you support? (laughs, apart from “Where are you from” this is the second most asked question in Turkey) Arsenal…then Galatasaray.

Favourite place for a drink and/or a meal in Istanbul? Midpoint on Istiklal for a drink and  Datli lokanti for a meal in Cihangir. http://www.midpoint.com.tr/

Here’s a sneak shot of a potential property for Patrick –