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Mar 21, 2023
Turks Are Latest to Rebel Over Foreigners Buying Homes, Want Ban
Turks overwhelmingly favor a ban on home sales to foreigners, a view that straddles the country’s political divide and echoes the backlash against a deluge of buyers in countries from Canada to Portugal.
About 79% of Turkish citizens think home sales to foreign nationals should be banned, according to a survey by Metropoll. The view was widely shared across the political spectrum, with more than 77% of those who voted for the ruling AK Party in 2018 voicing their support.
Frustration is bubbling over in some of the world’s hottest housing markets that have seen outside demand drive up prices and make local property harder to afford for citizens. In 2022, Canada banned most foreigners from purchasing homes for two years, while Portugal is under pressure from public opinion to roll back incentives.
New Zealand’s banned foreigners from buying existing homes in 2017. Such measures have previously done little to curb prices in places like Hong Kong and Australia.
The issue could also take on political dimensions in Turkey with just over a month left before elections in which President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is seeking a third term in office. Earlier in March, Erdogan’s ruling AK Party and its ally in parliament rejected a motion by one of the biggest opposition groups to examine the impact of sales to foreigners.
Property purchases by foreigners have been a source of much-needed hard currency for successive AK Party governments at a time when foreign direct investment and flows into stocks and bonds have dwindled over the past years.
Net property sales to foreign nationals reached $6.3 billion last year, accounting for 78% of all FDI, according to a study by the Economic Policy Research Foundation of Turkey.
Turkey’s Housing Crisis Faces Demand Surge From Quake Aftermath
The resentment among Turks is already finding traction with Erdogan’s biggest critics.
Kemal Kilicdaroglu, the unified opposition’s candidate for president in the May 14 ballot, pledged in February to halt such sales to foreigners for five years or “until prices fall.”
It’s a view echoed by Kilicdaroglu’s key ally before the vote — the center-right IYI Party’s leader Meral Aksener — who’s urged the government to impose a ban starting in southern provinces that were devastated by the Feb. 6 earthquakes.
About 4.5% of all home sales in 2022 were to foreigners, though the ratio rises to as high as 27% in major cities such as Antalya, Mersin and Istanbul. Russians topped the list of non-native buyers last year, purchasing about a quarter of all homes sold to foreigners.
Inflation-adjusted home prices rose 95% in January from a year earlier, according to Bloomberg calculations based on official data.
The Metropoll survey was conducted via phone interviews with 2,118 respondents from 28 Turkish provinces on Feb. 23-Feb. 28.
©2023 Bloomberg L.P.
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