However, unless your Turkish is faultless, and unless you are very well versed in the local culture, this won’t work for a foreigner – and so this guide is intended to steer you through this important, but still quite simple, process.
How to find a buyer for your house in Turkey
Simple. Choose an estate agent.
Make sure you use one who is experienced and well-respected in the area. Local friends or your lawyer should be able to recommend someone suitable.
Think about where your buyer is likely to come from. Is your property likely to appeal to a foreign buyer, to a Turk from Istanbul or Ankara, or to a local person. If it is likely to appeal to a foreign buyer, which country are they likely to come from? Choose an agent with exposure in the right places and the language and other skills to deal with those buyers.
Although many Turks advertise their properties privately (without an estate agent) via the local press and internet, a foreigner will always benefit from the services of an estate agent to find and deal with a buyer:
- They will know the market and prices, so securing you the best price for the property
- They will prepare the property information documents in the way that they would be expected in Turkey; essential if you are looking for a Turkish buyer and no disadvantage if you’re looking for an international buyer
- They will show people around the property and, of course, if they’re Turkish, be able to speak to them in fluent Turkish
- They will be able to negotiate the sale of the property. As you will know if you have spent any time in Turkey, negotiation is an art that takes a form very different from its form in many other countries
- They will liaise with your lawyer, the Notary, the Land Registry to complete the transaction as quickly as possible
We’re not trying to create work for estate agents here, but it really is the most sensible course of action to use one.
Most estate agents in Turkey are reputable, but different firms do aim at different parts of the market and so it’s worth doing a bit of research before you make your choice of agent. Research is, perhaps, a rather grandiose term for what you need to do. Normally you will only need to see which agents are selling most property in your area. There will usually be one or two clear leaders.
If your property is in a well-known and self-contained area – such as in central (historic) Istanbul or in a marina area such as Göcek – you need to decide whether to sell it through an agent that specialises in just that area or one with a wider coverage. Generally, the best advice is to sell the property via the agents dealing with the most properties of that type in the area in question.
Obviously, when choosing an agent, you need – if possible – to make sure that somebody in their office speaks your language fluently and, ideally, that there is a second person in the office to provide backup language skills when the first is out of the office.
The agent’s fee will, typically, be 3% of the sale price.
Legal steps when selling a property in Turkey
Who should deal with the sale?
You can have your agent both sell the property and deal with the resulting contracts and paperwork, or you can use the agent to sell the property and then use your lawyer to draft the contracts and deal with the other paperwork. This is likely to cost you a little more. The agent’s fee will remain at, typically, 3% of the sale price and the lawyer will probably charge you 1% of the sale price (subject to minimum fee of €1,200) to deal with a fairly simple sale.
Whichever method you choose, you (or, more likely, your lawyer or estate agent) will have to do four main things:
Prepare a contract and document pack
Surprisingly, it is rare for a pre-prepared document or sales pack to be produced in the case of the sale of property in Turkey, but there is strong anecdotal evidence that having a proper document pack greatly increases the chance of a quick sale, and greatly speeds up the process of making that sale.
The document pack will comprise a contract, a copy of your proof of title, a copy of your planning permission for the construction of the building or of your habitation licence permitting it to be used, and (possibly) items about the safety of the property.
In Turkey, it is not common for the seller to produce a survey (inspection) report showing the condition of the property in anticipation of sale being made, if the buyer wants a survey, he will obtain one.
If you’re going to have a document pack, it must be in Turkish but should ideally be accompanied by a translation into your own language and into the languages of other likely groups of buyers. This is most conveniently done by having the document in a two-column format.
Occasionally, we find clients from (say) China who speak neither Turkish nor English well enough to understand the contract. In this case we normally recommend that the contract is prepared, initially, in Turkish and English – the two dominant languages used in Turkey – and that we then provide a separate translation into Chinese. We can also provide separate translations into other languages, depending upon the language skills of the buyer.
Deal with any technical or other queries raised by the buyer
These can take many forms: from enquiries about whether the curtains are included with the sale and when the pool was last maintained to queries about the validity of your building licence.
Some of these enquiries will be dealt with by your estate agent. In fact, almost all of them are first directed to the estate agent. The estate agent will then refer the ones that need to go to the lawyer to the lawyer and the ones that need to come to you to you.
Attend to sign over the title to the property
This will be done in front of an officer from the Land Registry (Tapu Ofis).
If it isn’t convenient for you to attend in person (remembering that each person included in the legal title will need to be there), they may appoint someone else to sign on their behalf by using a Power of Attorney. See our Guide to Powers of Attorney in Turkey.
Receive the money
As the seller of a property in Turkey you will, mainly, be interested in the bit where you receive the money!
It is conventional that the buyer should pay over a deposit, usually 10% of the sale price, at the time when they sign the contract to buy the property and the rest of the price when you sign over the title to the property. The initial 10% is usually retained by the estate agent or by your lawyer until the final title has been signed over, at which point the whole of the price (less any fees and taxes) is released to you.
The legal process
This is very similar to the process when buying a property, but there is rather less to do. See our Guide to Buying a Property in Turkey.
Fees & taxes
There will be several fees and expenses that you must pay when you’re selling your property in Turkey.
The main things you will need to deal with are:
- Paying all of your utility and other bills and cancelling your accounts.
- Bringing your general tax affairs up to date. This is particularly important if you are leaving Turkey.
- Agreeing who will pay the property transfer tax. This tax(4%) is, conventionally, split between the buyer and seller (2% each) but any arrangement can be agreed. Some sellers insist that it all be paid by the buyer.
- Pay your estate agent and your lawyer. They will, usually, make sure that they hold enough of your money to ensure that they get paid!
|Item||Notes||Cost (% of price)|
|Estate agents' fees||If you require the agent's full service, including showing people around the property, and you appoint the agent on an exclusive basis||3-5%|
|Lawyers' fees||This will usually be subject to a minimum of €1,200||1%|
|Property transfer tax||This is usually split between the buyer and the seller (in total, 4%)||2%|
|Land Registry admin fee (Tapu Ofis)||This is usually paid by the seller||TRY200-300|
|Experts and surveyors' fees||These will depend upon the type of your property and the decisions that you make.|
Your tax affairs in Turkey
When you sell your property, especially if you will be leaving Turkey, you will need to bring your tax affairs in Turkey up-to-date. For example, you must show that you’ve paid your property tax for the current year and that your personal tax filings/returns are up-to-date and that all other relevant taxes have been paid.
Taxes in Turkey
There will be tax to pay if you sell your property within five years from the date of purchase and make any profit on it. See our Guide to Taxes on Individuals in Turkey.
Taxes in your own country
Depending upon your nationality and where you normally live, you will probably also have to declare the capital gain that you have made to the tax authorities in your own country and pay whatever tax they assess is due on that gain. However, in most cases you will find that there is a double taxation treaty between your country and Turkey with the result that, typically, you will be able to deduct the tax you’ve already paid in Turkey from any tax liability ‘back home’.
You will need to check the details of the tax treaty between Turkey and your country. Your lawyer should be able to help you to do this. See our Guide to Double Taxation Treaties in/with Turkey for general information about double taxation treaties and which countries have signed a treaty with Turkey.
Other things you might want to do when you sell your Turkish property
If your property is in a community of properties, it is considered courteous to notify the president of the community personally that you have sold it. This also avoids the risk of them chasing you if the new owner doesn’t pay his dues.
You may want to cancel your insurance policy in relation to the property. You may be entitled to a refund.
You should tell your bank what you are doing. If you want to keep a bank account in Turkey, it may be necessary to change the type of account.