Kate Ashley-Norman takes a wry swipe at her own much loved profession.

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.

The perfect retreat!

I don’t usually put in full property details into this blog as we have another website for that purpose, but this house is rather special.

The perfect retreat if you are looking for serenity and seclusion… Do you need some peace to finally write that novel? Are you looking for inspiration to put brush to canvas. Or do you just want a peaceful corner. This could be your solution. An absolutely stunning, 2/3 bed traditionally designed and constructed stonehouse.

This unique funky property is hand built by traditional craftsmen using the finest stone and reclaimed timber. A house for the artistic and creative minded. It sits high up at the edge of an olive grove on a large 280 sqm plot and has beautiful 240 degree breathtaking views of the sea and mountains from the spacious lounge, terrace and balconies.

The lounge has panoramic windows, reclaimed wooden floors and a stone fireplace. It has a substantial master bedroom with en-suite and a guest room with own bath and shower both of which have access to a large balcony with stunning views. The kitchen is a one off, hand built from old timber and has all the modern appliances fitted. The property also features a large cellar which has been split in to a music room/3rd bedroom and storage.

The swimming pool is a quirky L-shape designed to warm in the morning sun and the pretty garden is well established with over 100 local trees, shrubs, vines and bushes and is gravelled for the winter months.

Located 1 KM from Apollon Temple is 10 minutes walk to fresh bread, 30 minutes walk to secluded beaches and the semi-remote location gives access to miles of countryside walking in attractive terrain.

Full TAPU and Habitation Certificate.

Needless to say, if you want more information, just give me a quick call.

The Perfect Sale!

This is the story of a perfect sale for all involved – buyer, seller and emlak.

The phone call came through at 8.30am on a Monday morning. A Turkish chap looking to relocate the area had come to us having been highly recommended bu our business partner on the Olive Gardens in Akbuk complex – Mehmet Yurdakul.

Yildiray met up with the chap who had a reasonable budget in mind, and a definite wish list. Yildiray showed him a resale duplex, fully furnished, which we had had on our books through an existing UK client.

The potential client loved it, a deal was struck which was acceptable to all. Within 24 hours, the deal was completed, deeds signed over, monies transferred into the bank, client had moved in and was blissfully happy.

So please do not despair of your resale is taking some time to shift. There is a client out there for you. It could happen very quickly.

I am officially a Turkish citizen!

Well, it’s official. I am now a Turkish citizen. Not that I am letting go of my UK nationality, God forbid. No, I now have dual nationality and to be honest it is quite a strange feeling.

So what does it give me? Well, I can go out and get a proper job for which I actually get paid. I can start paying my insurance, which allows me to receive a pension in my old age. I can have properties signed straight over into my name without the need for military clearance - excellent for the business. I am entitled to free health care through my husband’s insurance, which I was not before.

Basically, anything that a Turk can do, so can I. So it does actually make living in this country feel that much better as I no longer feel so much like a second class citizen. My kimlik (Turkish ID card) will give me a lot more freedom of movement.

Yet fortunately for me I also have my UK nationality and passport, so can continue to move around the world without the restrictions that so many Turks have.

It also means that I have an offical piece of paper on which my surname is the same as my childrens’. I did not change my name when I got married, mainly because I am rather partial to it and was reluctant to let it go, having had it for such a long time. However I was happy for the kids to take my husband’s surname (Emre). Now on my kimlik I am known as Kate Emre, and in the UK I am still Kate Ashley-Norman.

I’m a lucky bugger to have the best of both worlds!

Protecting the Apollo Temple

There has been a lot of controversy recently surrounding the closing of the road that weaves its way round the Temple of Apollo into Didim. The local businesses in the area are up in arms about the potential drop in trade.

I see it another way. If I had a business up there I would see it as an opportunity to really create a corner of Didim of which we can be rightly and properly proud – an area which really celebrates the ancient and traditional atmosphere of Turkey that you cannot get along the front.

We ate at Olios restaurant the other night. It was lovely. The food was good, but even better was the environment. Unhassled, cool, serene, a place that I would say had soul. We were cheeky. Because the roads were closed we sneaked round the back streets and managed to park in front of the restaurant. It was lovely to sit there, with the backdrop of the Temple, and not be blasted with the continuous revs of coaches, dolmuses, lorries, vans, cars, etc etc.

I understand that there is a Unesco pledge to help fund a redevelopment of the area (correct me if I am wrong). If I were mayor I would positively endorse the closing of the roads and ensure the following:

1. That a dedicated coach and car park be located nearby with pedestrian friendly access to the Temple area.

2. That the area as a whole be regenerated and sympathetically restored to recreate a traditional Turkish working village.

3. To encourage partisan type businesses to give visitors a taste of true Turkey.

4. To promote a series of ‘free’ concerts and street shows during the summer consisting of Traditional Turkish dancing, street sellers, music and singing.

5. Work up a selection of winter activities (eg local walks with breakfast and dinner start and finish points in the local vicinity.

This is one of the reasons why the Didim area is so exciting. We have the town itself – a thriving, buzzing, cosmopolitan place. The Didim Marina will add to the energy and modern mix of its future. The Temple area is there to feed its soul and put the place on the map as a major tourist attraction.

It is so easy to look at a Google Earth image of the area now and understand how all these elements need to be brought together.

Would that I were mayor…!

Drunk on smells!

I get very excited about my garden at the moment – does this mean that I finally have to admit to getting on a bit in age? We moved into our home in Yesilkent about three years ago now, and I planted several bushes which were chosen specifically for their smells. For the first time this year the plants seem to be doing what they said they would on the packet. The roses are abundant both in red-ness and number, the honeysuckles (all four of them) are tumbling over the walls and throwing out the most amazing scents every evening, we have another large bush that I have absolutely no idea what it is, but at night it knocks you out with its smell. I even counted about 20 new fruit coming through on the apricot tree.

As we sat on the veranda getting drunk on these scents, we discussed whether it was more important to us to be surrounded by the smells of a garden we have created, or unlimited sea views. Well sea views are all very well, but for us, the sight and smells of my gorgeous red roses would win every time.

Yesilkent (literally green town) is an incredibly green and lush area of the Didim peninsula. The soil is very rich and clay like, and mixed with some gubri – the Turkish equivalent of horse manure (but extracted from sheep instead) plants can go absolutely wild.

Sea views? – I can just walk down to the end of the road to get my fix!

Emlaks are only human (mostly!)

I love this business. Over the years we have made a lot of people very happy by ensuring that they purchase a home in the sun which fulfills their needs, and is legally safe.

But the process of getting there can be excruciatingly painful at times. I know I should toughen up and not take things personally, but when you care deeply about what you are doing then human nature never fails to dumbfound me.

When people contact me looking for property, I spend a lot of time keeping them up to date on what is available, what is happening in the area. I correspond regularly by email, occasionally contact by telephone… over time I like to build a relationship which I hope makes people feel comfortable and have some kind of familiarity when they first come over.

The competition here in Altinkum is horrendous. It is cut throat and underhand. We have a policy of never commenting on other people’s business because we would not want others to do the same as ours. However, not everyone works to the same standards.

By the same token, we realise that potential buyers may want to spend time with other agents as well.

What I find upsetting, is that you make an appointment and nobody shows up. No cancelling email. No phone call. No note under the door. Nothing. I have lost count of the hours I have spent sitting outside hotels waiting for someone who has no intention of honouring an appointment. You wonder if they are lurking behind a pillar waiting for me to leave! Or sitting in a cafe across the road loitering over a latte until the coast is clear! 

I feel uncomfortable chasing them up with hotels as I believe that if somebody does not want to see you, a no show is as good a way of telling us as anything. But I would really much prefer it if they could let us know – it is after all only polite. Just a simple phone call would make all the difference in the world. We are then not left hanging and wondering… what have we done, has somebody said something, have we inadvertently upset them, are they poorly…

Despite what is commonly thought about agents and emlaks, we are only human and trying to make an honest living!

Excellent result on deeds!

We had an excellent end to the week last week – we finally signed off a set of deeds that had been dragging out for the best part of 6 years now. The builder and landowner had a dispute before the original deeds could get signed off. Through dogged determination of the clients, ourselves and the builder we finally managed to get there without it having to go to court. I shall be putting the full story together for some PR and will post it accordingly here, but all in all a good result and some thoroughly welcome good news.

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