Interviews

Turkey evolving into a lucrative second-home market

Mesut Ficicigil, managing partner, Ideal Sapanca

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Mesut Ficicigil is the managing partner of Ideal Sapanca, a brokerage firm headquartered in Dubai with the intention of attracting investors from the GCC to Turkey. Ficicigil talks to Big Project ME about why Dubai was the ideal office location for his firm in the GCC, and the challenges of getting investors to buy a house in a tourist destination. 

When was Ideal Sapanca set up in Dubai?

We came to Dubai around 18 months ago, and our motive behind setting up shop here was to attract GCC investors to visit Turkey. You’ll find a lot of GCC members like holidaying in Turkey, and I think it’s a great starting point to lure them into buying their second or third homes in the country. Most citizens from FCC states, such as Kuwait, Saudi Arabia or Qatar frequent Dubai often for recreational or work purposes, so this was the ideal city for us to bring Ideal Sapanca to.

What are the projects you are currently developing in Turkey?

Istanbul and Bursa tend to be frequently crowded with tourists. Our projects are in Sapanca, which is a 50 minute-drive from Istanbul and is a very peaceful area with low population. We’re building villas there as against apartments or towers, because that’s the style of housing units you’ll mostly find in the GCC too. Both our projects in Sapanca, Serenity Villas and Wind Hill Houses include villas for exactly this reason.

What are the advantages of investing in Turkey?

Turkey’s lifestyle is quite European, but GCC members still have the common link of Islam with us. Therefore, when GCC residents visit Turkey, they find a very exotic and natural environment like they would in Europe, but still have mosques in the country too. That’s the advantage of investing in Turkey, which isn’t a very long flight away from Dubai or Riyadh either. Turkey is a holiday spot indeed, but it is ideal for investors looking to spend two to three months outside their own countries, whether on holiday or even on business.

Are there any Turkish legalities that an investor must be aware of?

The Turkish government amended a law in 2012 which allows foreign investors the same freehold rights as us. Which means, you can now own a house and the land in the country, and can even pass it down over generations. This is really helpful because you don’t just own a building on government land; you own the entire patch of land, which means you have greater flexibility and ownership of your investment.

Is it challenging to convince investors from the GCC to visit Turkey?

Construction is like banking; you need to be able to trust whom you’re working with. If that doesn’t happen, then you will not be happy with your investment. 90% of my job is bringing investors to Turkey; I know my construction team there [FCC Construction and Development Company] will take care of the rest. We also offer options like design modifications, so when the customer visits our property, they are getting the safety and quality assurance, as well as a value-added service. But my biggest aim is to attract investors from the UAE and rest of the GCC first.

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