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Foreigners have bought over 384,000 homes in Turkey since 2012

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More than 384,000 homes have been sold to foreign buyers in Turkey, most of them bought to acquire citizenship, since a regulation lifting restrictions on foreigners purchasing real estate in the country came into effect in 2012, the Cumhuriyet daily reported on Monday.

A total of 384,519 houses were sold to foreigners between May 2012 and the end of February of this year, according to Cumhuriyet.

Data from the Turkish Statistical Institute (TurkStat) showed Russians as the top foreign buyers of Turkish homes since 2019, with 39,172 units. They were followed by Iranians (35,573) and Iraqis (31,319).

In Turkey, statistics regarding foreigners obtaining citizenship are not regularly disclosed. The response provided by the Environment Ministry to a question submitted by then-main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) MP Erkan Aydın in 2021 showed that citizenship was granted to 19,630 foreigners between 2018 and 2021 in exchange for a total of 30,358 real estate purchases.

According to Cumhuriyet, 75 percent of the real estate sold to foreign buyers in recent years is being bought to acquire citizenship, and the people who complete the required three-year period a foreigner must hold the property for citizenship are making substantial profits by selling these houses.

Nizameddin Aşa, president of the İstanbul Chamber of Real Estate Commissioners and Consultants, told Cumhuriyet that there has been a recent increase in foreigners leaving İstanbul.

“The people who have fulfilled the three-year requirement for citizenship are selling [their houses] and leaving. [For instance], they are selling the house they bought for TL 500,000 ($15,428) for TL 3 million ($92,570),” he added.

TurkStat data showed in February that home sales to foreigners saw a significant decline of 48.1 percent in 2023, compared to a year earlier, reaching a total of 35,005 units. This figure marked the lowest point in the six years following 2017.

The share of home sales to foreigners as part of total housing sales, which was 4.5 percent in 2022, declined to 2.9 percent in 2023.

Experts attribute the decrease in foreign real estate purchases in Turkey to factors such as the substantial rise of prices in dollars, earthquake risks and increased requirements for obtaining citizenship.

Changes to regulations in April 2022 required foreigners to pay at least $400,000 for a piece of real estate, instead of $250,000, to be eligible for citizenship.

The minimum investment necessary to obtain Turkish citizenship was raised to $600,000 in 2024.

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