Turkey is looking to attract foreign property investors by offering them Turkish citizenship if they buy real estate in the country worth a minimum $1 million.

Turkey offers houses at attractive prices with a more economical lifestyle than in many Western countries.

Though the number of properties sold to foreigners fell 20.3 percent in 2016 to 18,189 properties, the country’s new citizenship rules are expected to encourage real estate sales.

As part of a package aimed at encouraging investment in Turkey, under the new regulations, enacted on Jan. 12, Ankara will grant citizenship to foreign investors who buy real estate in Turkey worth a minimum of $1 million so long as the property is not sold for at least three years.

The regulation also covers foreigners who deposit a minimum of $3 million in Turkish banks so long as that sum is not withdrawn for three years. A similar measure applies to foreign investors who hold government-issued bonds worth at least $3 million which are not diversified for three years.

“After the slowdown in foreign sales in the second half of last year, caused mainly by the [failed] political coup and security concerns, this is a welcome positive move that should help attract buyers back,” said Julian Walker, director at Spot Blue International Property, which deals with property in prime Turkish areas like Istanbul.

Walker said that most foreign buyers benefiting from the new law would begin their property search in Istanbul.

“The threshold of $1 million will suit wealthy Arab investors in particular. Last year, Iraqis, Saudis, Kuwaitis, and Russians bought the highest number of properties in Turkey. With this new law, we envisage this trend continuing, with interest from Syrians also growing,” Walker said.

“As a further sign of confidence, Turkey is on the Place in the Sun magazine’s list of ‘Best Places to Buy in 2017’. They highlight Fethiye, Kalkan, and Bodrum as particular hot spots with buyers,” Walker added.

Turkish houses: Cheaper prices, higher quality

Turkey offers houses for cheaper prices, higher quality, and bigger sizes as well as Turkish hospitality, a more economical lifestyle, and more affordable shopping than other countries, Ali Taylan, the head of Turkey’s All Real Estate Federation, said on Tuesday.

Pointing to the steady rise in the value of real estate in Turkey, Taylan said that real estate gained more value than any other financial instruments.

“For example, housing prices in the capital Ankara rose 20-25 percent over the last 20 years. Homeowners in Turkey earned more money than they could have earned on forex, the stock exchange, and so on. So this is a smart investment instrument.”

Turkey’s decision to expand its citizenship eligibility is a wise move to attract more foreigners to buy more real estate within the country, Taylan also said.

“The amount — $1 million — is well calculated. Because you would have to pay $4-5 million in the U.S. for a house costing $1 million in Turkey,”

As for the terror attacks in Turkey, such things happen in many European countries such as France, Germany, and so on, he added.

Some 32 percent (or 5,811 units) of the houses sold to foreigners are in Istanbul, the country’s largest city by population. This was a numerical drop of some 22 percent compared to the previous year, according to the Turkish Statistical Institute.

Following Istanbul, the holiday resort town of Antalya came in second with 4,352 properties, while the northwestern province of Bursa ranked third with 1,318.

Iraqis topped the list of buyers with 3,036 properties, followed by Saudis (1,886 units), Kuwaitis (1,744), Russians (1,224), and Afghans (1,205).

Source: AA