The following article shall shortly be featured in Voices.
I am going to tell you something that may make you guffaw into your cornflakes, spit out your coffee in mirth, even sneer in cynical derision… my career over the last 20 years has spanned the noble professions of double glazing, estate agency and public relations!
Yes, I know… between them they are probably three of the most hated professions in modern civilized society. Possibly only the poor old tax inspectors are more (or at least equally) maligned.
In the UK, to say that estate agents are far from loved is an under-statement. In fact, they are usually mentioned in the same breath as ‘lies’, ‘deceit’, and ‘the lowest of the low’. In Turkey agents (emlaks) are similarly regarded by their own countrymen. Indeed, the phrase ‘emlakçı üç kağitci’ (the three card agent) is a general term to describe any form of confidence trickster.
In neither country is the employment of an estate agent a legal requirement, yet they are still extensively used in both countries to facilitate property transactions between those looking to buy, and those looking to sell.
So why use us if we are so hated?
The UK is already quite well set up with systems and tools to sell a property without an estate agent. The advent of the internet was probably a major player in this, giving every individual homeowner access to the world market from the comfort of their own (light, airy, well proportioned) living room without the need of an agent’s own carefully cultivated routes to market. One website I found (www.houseweb.co.uk) claimed that over one in 20 properties were now sold without an agent.
Yet in the UK we are on home ground. We are more confident about the approach we need to take, and there is a well established network of professionals to help us long the way (though do not forget they charge too – nobody does anything for nothing.) If you are confident about your ability to sell, and have the time and energy to do all the groundwork, you could save yourself a couple of grand at least in agency fees.
Coming to Turkey (and I write from the perspective of Brits buying in Turkey) you enter a minefield where the language barrier is the least of your worries.
The procedures you need to go through differ greatly from the UK. The rules (such as they are) change regularly. The laws are confusing. The paperwork is non-ending.
Although there is no reason why you could not work though all this yourself, a good emlak would be worth his, or her, weight in gold by streamlining and simplifying the whole process for you.
Finding a property for a buyer, or a buyer for a property, is just the start. In Didim a good emlak will do everything that you would expect a solicitor to do in the UK, and more – check ownership of said property, check it for debt, ensure all paperwork is present and correct, write up an inventory if furnished, draw up the sales contract, sort out power of attorney, make the military applications for the deeds, sort out water and electric connections, chase up snaggings, ensure furniture is delivered and in one piece, and finally (and most importantly) arrange the signing of the deeds and place your deeds in your hand with a handshake and a congratulations.
Well that is what we do anyway. However, in Didim there are three types of emlak.
First of all there is the dullest type which rarely gets a mention – the ‘Good Guys Trying To Run An Honest Business’. You do not hear of them often as they do not make good copy but do make for dull reading.
The ones that get all the column inches are the ‘Clever Cons’.
These Clever Cons will always find a loophole when it comes to making a fast, free buck. Whether it is property, sheep, battered boxes that fall of the back of lorries – whatever the business they will spot the weak link and continue profiteering from it until the gap is closed. After which they will pocket whatever cash is left and move onto the next opportunity.
The third type often get confused with the Clever Cons, though in my opinion they have their own category because they are actually not that clever at all – they are what I term the ‘Gullible Non-Businessmen’. These emlaks are basically naïve, rather than outright evil. They allowed themselves to get caught up in the gold rush of the early years without having the real business sense or sophistication to really understand the long term effects of what was happening. They went for the quick buck, found themselves in too deep, and have no idea how they are now going to get themselves out of their current financially precarious situations.
Often their only solution is the ostrich effect – stick their heads in the sand and leave everyone around them floundering.
I am hoping that now the Didim property market is that much more mature, the latter two types of emlak are becoming fewer and further between, leaving us boring lot to get on with the job of helping to create a Didim which is full of happy, more satisfied dwellers.
As to those strong feeling against my profession – well, I try not to take it personally. Indeed, I rather see myself as blazing a trail of positive energy towards the long term good for everyone who decides to invest in the area.