2 Eylül 2011 Cuma

Luxury Istanbul homes attract Mideast buyers

Inside of the Zeki Paşa Mansion is seen in this photo. Sotheby’s is in talks with tourism investors who want to buy the asset.

Rich Arab buyers are getting more interested in the waterside mansions and expensive houses by Istanbul’s Boshporus, according to the head of Sotheby’s Turkey. The recent political unrest in the Middle East and North Africa is also playing a role in drawing investors to safe havens such a Turkey, the executive says

Due to ongoing conflicts and clashes sweeping through Middle Eastern and North African countries, Arab investors are flocking to the Turkish real estate market to invest in luxurious residences and waterfront villas by Istanbul’s Bosporus Strait, according to the top executive of Sotheby’s local branch.

“In recent years, Arab investors started monitoring the Turkish market, but now this has accelerated,” Arman Özver, head of Sotheby's International Realty, told the Hürriyet Daily News during a recent interview. Extremely rich Arabs generally pay from $2 million to $30 million for houses on the shore of the Bosphorus Strait, which divides the Asian and European parts of Istanbul, Özver said, adding that the remaining Arab investors look for luxury residence projects in central Istanbul for around $250,000.

Mansion to become hotel

Zeki Paşa Mansion is one of the flamboyant survivors and last of the great waterfront mansions on the Bosporus. It is listed in the company’s portfolio for 187.2 million Turkish Liras.

“We are continuing talks with two international hotel chains and they both want to turn the historic building into a boutique hotel,” Özver said. The luxurious house was built for Zeki Pasha, an Ottoman official working in the service of the Sultan Abdülhamid II, emperor of the Ottomans in the second half of the 19th century. With 3,000 square meters of enclosed space and 4,000-square-meter garden by the water, the residence also attracts interest from Central Asian investors, he said.

Cultural similarities shared by Turkey and Arab countries as well as the religious commonalities play a significant role in Arab investors choosing to live in Turkey, according to Özver. “Turkish soap operas widely watched and followed in Middle Eastern countries also attract many wealthy Arab investors looking for luxury here. The country’s economic and political stability also encourage investors to consider Turkey for new investments.”

Arab investments in Turkey totaled $10.6 billion last year, according to İbrahim S. Dabdoub, chief executive of the National Bank of Kuwait, who recently spoke to the Daily News on the sidelines of the sixth Turkish-Arab Economic Forum in Istanbul.

Building its real estate portfolio up to a total of $500 million in the last six months, Özver said the local branch of Sotheby’s is in talks with 15 individual and corporate customers mainly from Middle Eastern and Gulf countries. “Nearly 70-80 percent of the sales take place in Istanbul and the rest in western and southern provinces,” he said.

Talking about the future plans of the international real estate company in the Turkish market, Özver said Sotheby’s plans to open 12 more offices in Istanbul, Ankara, the northwestern province of Bursa, the western province of Izmir and the southern province of Antalya. “We aim to reach total revenue of $1 billion in three years’ time,” Özver said.

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