An open invitation!

The sun is out. The temperature is hotting up. The season has started.

I would like to extend an invitation to all to come and see us if and when you are out in Altinkum. Our offices are open 7 days a week during the summer season, normally until about 8 in the evening. We are located in the Second Beach area, just up from the Tuntas Hotem, opposite the Letoon Hotel (used to be called the Atac).

If you want to talk through the possibility of buying, feel free to come for a chat. If you already have a property but are having a few problems, come for a chat. If you want to sell, come for a chat. If you’re thinking abot emigrating out here, come for a chat.

If I am not in the office when you come, do call me – often I am no more than 10 minutes away.

I am very excited about the future prospects for the area, and I would love to share that excitement with you all.

Season has started

So, the summer season has officially started. The pools are full, temperatures are reaching the late 20s, and our lovely council has launched into a raft of road improvement schemes. Don’t you just love its timing!

This time of year always seems to see an increase in burglaries, so if you are heading over soon, or reading this in Didim, do be extra vigilant. Keep valuables (including passports) in a safe place and don’t leave any windows or doors open.

I hope to see some of you over the next few months. Our offices will be open 7 days a week well into the evening, so feel free to come by and share a glass or two with us.

Happy flying – thank God!

3am this morning and my mother left for the airport to catch her flight back to the UK. All of last week I was glued to the BBC World News here desperately worried that she would not make it over.

Fortunately by the Friday she travelled the schedules were more or less back to normal.

The volcanic ash emanating from that unpronounceable, unspellable volcano in Iceland highlighted how reliant we are on air travel. Turkey is just a 3 and a half to four hour flight – not much longer than driving from my previous home of Bath in the West Country to my family home in East Midlands Peterborough. In fact, I probably see more of my family now than then as we spend greater chunks of time together.

But not being able to get on a plane a fly home (albeit just for a week), caused me a surprising amount of stress – and I am not a stressful person by nature.

It does make you appreciate how much we take air travel for granted these days, and how we should be grateful for the ability to get on a plane and travel thousands of miles in a matter of hours. As a family we tend to travel backwards and forwards with Cyprus Turkish Airlines ( – it has a convenient flight out of Stansted, an hour from my family home in the UK,  into Izmir.

With three young kids they have always been reliable and accommodating. The kids know the routine and route through the airports – to them it is like catching a bus. It is possibly not the cheapest, but 90% of the time Cyprus Turkish Airlines are on time, have never unnecessarily cancelled, and are normally happy to give me an extra wine to help the journey along!

I shall always bee grateful to them for allowing me to connect the two worlds that I love so much with relative ease.

The Altinkum Property market – summer season 2010

Property values have kept us all in dinner party conversations for many years now – how much you bought for, how much you sold for, how much something might be worth in five years time if you put in a new kitchen and bathroom.

The question that concerns us Didim dwellers as we enter the 2010 summer season is, how well have Didim property prices fared over the last few months, and what is going to happen as we count down to 2011. Some reports seem to reflect that the town is on its knees and you cannot give the properties away. I wanted to try and make a fairer evaluation based on my own observations over the last 12 months.

Before we attempt to answer, I want to take a very basic look at what helps to govern property prices in the first place. And I want to focus on the two main property ‘types’ that affect the majority of readers of Voices – new builds and resales. Many of you would have purchased new builds, some now may want to sell them as a resale.

It is probably the resale market that we understand better, however in the UK our resales do not compete on the same level with new builds as they do here in Didim. The UK market is mature. The Didim market is barely out of nappies.

For a new build project, the price of a single unit would be worked out in the same way as any other product manufactured in a factory – cost of raw materials (land, construction costs) taking into account cost of sales (commissions, marketing) plus profit margin. Any business-minded professional developer will work out the unit price of a potential project. If this comes out at a reasonable level then the project is probably worth pursuing.

Once that property becomes a resale property, the new owner would usually at least want to recoup what he paid for it, and preferably make a little more into the bargain.

The nineties and noughties in the UK made property experts of us all. It started with Thatcher enabling council house dwellers to buy their own property. The banks then jumped in on the bandwagon by making mortgages more easily and widely available. The explosion of property shows on the TV told us how we can clear £10,000, £20,000, £50,000… become property millionaires just by giving a place a lick of paint and a new front gate.

It was the extortionate property prices in the UK which made Turkey seem so attractive at the turn of the 21sy century. A 2-bed brand new apartment could be bought for anything between £10-20,000 – credit card amounts as some even joked at the time.

As the demand from foreign purchasers grew, so did the desire for better quality ‘products’ – complexes with pools, European standard installations, better quality bathroom and kitchen fittings. Local builders learnt fast. Land prices rose steeply. Property prices reflected the growing demand, but were still comparably much lower than competing markets (ie Spain). In fact, in many overseas property publications, Turkey was being touted as the new Spain, where property prices had climbed steadily over the last couple of decades.

Then a couple of things happened – a world recession, and, more specifically to Didim, the unraveling of several fraudulent activities involving discrepancies with deeds transfers and a significant number of understandably irate and vocal property non-owners.

While the recession, has had a definite impact on the property market worldwide, it could be fair to say that the effect on Didim is not massive, and definitely not irreparable, if only because the domestic market has grown in strength. Throughout the winter months, there has been a steady stream of Turkish purchasers visiting the area, bringing with them a demand for property that has enabled prices to remain relatively stabilized.

The fall out from the tapu fraud issues continues to be a source of concern for both those affected and for many businesses in Didim who have long term interests in the area. If we were to take a more positive stance on these issues, they have heightened awareness of the loopholes in the system for the future generation of buyers. And there is an active body of people pushing towards closing up those loopholes to create, hopefully, a more fraud proof system in the future.

So where does all this leave us with regards to current price levels?

As a unscientific snapshot, I did a quick tot up of the resale properties on our own books – both still available and sold, all British owner.

The total sale price of all the properties actually gave an increase in value across the board of nearly £300,000 over what they were originally bought for. Of those that had been sold (about 35%), the average purchase price was at least 10% more than the original price.

What is also important to bear in mind is that many of those properties were purchased by Turkish buyers who, though tough negotiators, still purchased at a price acceptable to the UK sellers.

The most difficult prospective purchasers over the last 12 months, and who normally left our offices empty handed, were UK buyers who came over believing they could pick up some rock solid bargains.

We are a long way from properties flying off the shelves – I wish. Every week is a struggle but we soldier on and there is definite movement of goods out on the market place, and prices seem to be holding up. Back in the UK my neighbours have had their house on the market for three years without a sniff of a buyer. One resale apartment we had on our books here took just a couple of months to sell.

We work on the premise that every property has a buyer whatever the current economic circumstances. We just need to stand firm, work hard, and have a little faith.

A good reason for living in Turkey!

Enjoying the delights of Karina fish restaurant on the edge of the Dilek national park

It was not my intention to favour any one restaurant in this blog, but I have to tell you about one of my favourite places to while away a Sunday afternoon – the Karina fish restaurant.

 The simple and rustic pleasures of this restaurant is matched only by its unsurpassable location – it is literally at the end of a road which can go no further, is set right on the beach, on the edge of the Dilek national park. It is as unsophisticated and undeveloped as it could possibly be. You sit under a very rickety looking pergoda right on the beach. There is no menu other than the fish caught that day – usually bass or bream (Turkish staples), which is grilled on the open barbecue that they probably never put out.

And this Sunday it was packed. People come in buses from as far away as Izmir to have Sunday lunch here.

The best bit for me is that because it is right on the beach, the kids can put on their swimming costumes and go off to play – we can sit and enjoy our wine, keep an eye on them, and not worry. Perfect Sunday afternoon fodder.

This is what living in Turkey is all about!

Didim musings # 2

The ancient temple aside, Didim is a relatively modern town to which many have migrated from all corners of Turkey and indeed Greece. If you wander down some of the side streets off the main town you will see the small, often dilapidated looking bungalows that have been home to many generations of first time Didim residents.

Often these plots of land were given to the original dwellers free – encouraging them to settle and build a community that has developed into what we have today. And most of these plots are in an often prime position close to the centre of main town Didim, and therefore worth a significant amount of money on today’s market.

What is happening now is that many of these original houses (which you must understand were built with no foundations, no earthquake proof structures, no building regulations, and certainly no iskans!) are slowly being knocked down to make way for tall apartment blocks as you can see in the pictures.

The way it is normally done is that the owner of the land in questions makes a contract with a builder. As payment for the land he is given a number of apartments, which he can either use himself, and/or for family, or indeed sell on.

A good thing or a bad thing? I can only surmise it to be a good thing in the long term. The original owners of not out of pocket – indeed they are probably better off than they would ever have been otherwise. The town continues to develop into a thriving modern municipality.

The changing face of Didim

The changing face of Didim

Easyjet flights

I have been checking on the dates of Easyjet flights into Bodrum for this summer. The following are true at time of posting. Flying from:

Stansted from May 15th 2010

Gatwick from the end of April 2010

Bristol from 17th July 2010

Liverpool from 11th June 2010

These may well change so best to check on the Easyjet website when you decide to book.

Marina views from the Aegean Plaza

Aegean Plaza – the building in which our office is located, has pretty much sold out now. All we have left is one unsold apartment from new, and two resales.

No.10 is the only apartment as yet unsold from new. It is a 2-bed apartment priced at £44,000.

No.5 is the same size as no.10 located on the floor below (1st floor). It is a resale apartment (the owner part exchanged for one of the duplexes) and is available for £44,000 ono.

The final apartment available is actually the first to have originally been sold as it offers fantastic sea views. No.24 is on the 4th floor and stretches across the whole of the front of the building. It has lovely sea and marina views from every room and balcony. Ths is priced at £59,500. No agency commission is paid on any of these.

Agac Bayramlar

Last Friday was Agac Bayramlar – the annual tree festival held by schools across the country to encourage the children to be aware of the trees, and nature in general.

In our local school here, the children dressed up in various costumes and each class made a speech and performed a little dance. It was the usual disorganised chaos, but great fun to boot. Afterwards we all enjoyed ‘asure’ - a sweet porridge like dessert with orange, chick peas, and all sorts of other things in it which I couldn’t begin to remember.

The next big children’s festival is Cocuklar Bayram, which is held every year on 23rd April, and is a major part of every child’s school experience.

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