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Are Syrians entitled to buy real estate in Turkish cities?

Turkey is currently experiencing an explosion in sales of land, housing and offices to foreigners. The biggest factor in the increase appears to be the change introduced in 2012 to the Law of Reciprocity, which imposes conditions on which foreigners can own Turkish property. This new regulation has raised the requirement of reciprocity with regard to real estate sales and has been reported in the regions of Turkey and under what circumstances the citizens of 183 countries can purchase property. The law allows foreigners to buy residential real estate, land plots and offices throughout Turkey up to 30 hectares (74 acres) per person. There is no limit to foreign companies in Turkey, allowing commercial companies to buy whatever property they want. However, in the case of purchase of plots of land that are not covered, the approval of the Ministry concerned must be obtained within two years of the plans being prepared for the buildings to be constructed.

Who can buy the land and where?

With the change in the law of reciprocity, citizens of Syria, Armenia and North Korea can no longer buy real estate in Turkey. Moreover, neighboring countries of Turkey, such as Iran, Iraq, Georgia and Bulgaria, are no longer able to obtain property in the provinces bordering those countries. The property can not be sold to Greek citizens in 26 coastal provinces, including Istanbul and the border province of Aderna. However, sales of real estate are allowed to Greeks in the interior. Of the 129 countries that have acquired unconditional real estate, the United States, Germany, Argentina, Bahrain, Brunei Darussalam, France, Finland, South Korea, the Netherlands, Ireland, Sweden, Britain, Spain, Italy, Japan, Canada, Kuwait, Qatar, Luxembourg, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Morocco, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Tuvalu and Oman. In 2012, the former “single residency” requirement was lifted for Israeli citizens. Citizens of 16 countries, including China, the Philippines, India and Iraq, are required to obtain special permission from the Ministry of the Interior. Iraqi citizens must also submit a certificate of conformity from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

As of August 2012, when the law was passed, the British had foreign nationality with the most property in Turkey and 35,825 British citizens now own real estate in Turkey, followed by German citizens (29,223), Greeks (10,832) and Irish 6,816, Dutch (5,907), Danish (5,833), Norwegians (5,541) and Russians (5,415). There are many reports of Israelis buying land in southeastern Turkey.

Explosion in sales

After the change in the law of reciprocity, there was an explosion in property sales to foreigners. Arabs buy apartments in large numbers, preferring green, peaceful and cold areas such as Sakarya, Bursa and Trabzon, as well as Istanbul. Russians and those from other Nordic countries buy homes in sunny provinces such as Antalya and Muja.

The real estate in Turkey belonging to the Syrian citizens is only the acquisition in the time period before the accession of Hatay to the borders of Turkey in 1939. After this date, the acquisition of Syrian citizens on real estate in Turkey is allowed only with the decisions of the court and legal succession with the identification of the land registry.

Moreover, since 1966, Syrian citizens have no authority to act as owners of their property in Turkey under the management of the Turkish treasury. According to a specific statute entitled “McAfee-Belmecil”, the real property management authority for Syrian citizens belongs to the Ministry of Finance.

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