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ECONOMICS > Residence permit rules to be eased for foreign house buyers

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Turkish government’s efforts to ease the residence permit issue for foreigners are ongoing, Deputy Prime Minister Babacan said, adding the government expect to announce the outcome of the studies in a few weeks.

Turkish government’s efforts to ease the residence permit issue for foreigners are ongoing, Deputy Prime Minister Babacan said, adding the government expect to announce the outcome of the studies in a few weeks.

The Turkish government is developing a scheme to ease visa and residence permit restrictions for real estate buyers from overseas, according to Deputy Prime Minister Ali Babacan.

“Turkey should be more tolerant toward foreigners who buy houses and spend substantial amounts of money to spend time in Turkey,” Babacan said during a speech in Cannes, where the world’s largest real estate fair, MIPIM, is being held between March 12 and today.

Residence permits have been the main hurdle for foreign buyers who plan to buy property in Turkey. According to existing regulations, foreigners can stay in the country for a maximum of three months on a tourist visa, after which time they must leave the country for another three months before returning. The residence permit receiving processes also can be exhaustingly long.

“We’re trying to increase these [tourist visa] periods to six months or one year because many visitors to our country wish to stay for more than three months,” Turkish Environment and Urban Planning Minister Erdoğan Bayraktar said, confirming the news.

The sector has witnessed an increase in foreign real estate acquisitions since the enactment of a bill last year that removed the condition of reciprocity and eased restrictions on the sale of land and real estate to foreign citizens and firms.

Since May of last year, when the bill removing the condition of reciprocity in land sales came into effect, foreigners have purchased around 19,000 properties in Turkey. In May alone, foreign real estate acquisitions in Turkey reached $1.1 billion, four times the total amount in 2011.

The government aims to boost foreign investments in the real estate sector further by backing reciprocity law and expanding the period of staying in Turkey with tourist visa as well as easing the procedures for residence permit.

Babacan highlighted the possible investment benefits of the regulation, suggesting that as these foreigners come and go, they would contribute to the Turkish economy by bringing business opportunities with them.

Babacan added that foreigners were increasingly seeking also to obtain Turkish citizenship, suggesting that there was substantial interest in the benefits and opportunities that a Turkish passport provided in the wider region.

“The residence permit is first, citizenship comes after, but with order. ... We need to appreciate the value of Turkish citizenship. It’s not something to give away, we need to be careful,” he said.
Babacan also said the efforts to ease the residence permit issue were ongoing and added that they expected to announce the outcome of the studies in a few weeks

Ağaoğlu wants 10 years

Turkey’s construction giant Ali Ağaoğlu, however, said even one year won’t be enough and the permit should be raised to minimum ten years.“It’s a positive start but it should be at least ten years,” Ağaoğlu said, adding there is a high demand for Turkey, especially from gulf countries. The sector has witnessed an increase in foreign real estate acquisitions since the enactment of a bill last year that removed the condition of reciprocity and eased restrictions on the sale of land and real estate to foreign citizens and firms. Since May of last year, when the bill removing the condition of reciprocity in land sales came into effect, foreigners have purchased around 19,000 properties in Turkey. The government aims to boost foreign investments in the real estate sector further by backing reciprocity law and expanding the period of residence permits.


March/15/2013

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