Bird Flu
        and You

                                                   Should I Still Invest in Turkey Regardless of Bird-Flu?

Everyone thinks they are an expert. They will give you advice, tell you what they think but they are not experts, and their conflicting suggestions may confuse you even more. Well the confusion ends here. Weve asked the real authorities in the field for the accurate information that you deserve.

Should I Still Invest in Turkey Regardless of Bird-Flu?

James Wittering

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Canny investors will tell you that the skill is knowing when to put your money into an opportunity. Who would not have bought into Tuscany or St Tropez 20 years ago if they had had the knowledge and the funds? But many people thinking about a holiday home are not hard-nosed investors but ordinary folk with some resources, looking to improve their lives, perhaps make a small return on their property and anxious not to make a mistake. Turkey has been immensely popular for all the right reasons for a second home.

But it has hit the news headlines over the past few weeks more for its impending health crisis than for its continued economic growth. The Avian Flu virus H5N1 strain has shown signs of becoming endemic and people fear it could spread further. Yet the truth is that this is still one of the best regions with a long summer season, superb scenery, amazing history and some very attractive and attractively priced properties in serene locations. Indeed, Turkey is often described as the last of the affordable paradises

Think twice before changing your mind about investing in Turkey because of recent events and the related media exposure that followed. This problem will resolve given a little time. As with every potential (and actual) epidemic in history, bird flu will eventually lose its power, certainly by the time any property you could buy today has been built. And, if you wait until all this concern is history, you will find that so have many other people and price inflation might make your purchase more difficult or its market appreciation less. Bright investors bought into Tuscany and St Tropez when many of the properties were basic farmhouses, or fishermens cottages. But buyers in Turkey do not have to wait a generation or two for gentrification. The new-build properties that are available off plan are to superb standards in superb locations at prices that are a fraction of those in the longer established getaway destinations, many of which today are overcrowded and have lost much of their charm. Turkey really is a paradise and the country plans to keep it that way.

The dream holiday location

So, in my opinion, bird flu is just a hiccup not a full stop. Yes, we have a vested interest as we handle some of the best properties in the finest regions of Turkey. But we are putting our own hard-earned money in so we are not advising anyone to do what we would not do. Is it not a golden rule to only put your money where your adviser is putting his? Would you take any notice of a horse tip from someone who smokes rollups and rides a bike?

Turkey is becoming increasingly popular as a holiday destination and is attracting knowledgeable property investors from across the world, particularly Europe and the US. Prices are still very low and properties that would cost you up to 1,000,000 on any of the Spanish Costas can be found for around 150,000 in Turkey, even by award-winning UK developers in an area we feel is the tops, Bodrum. With beautiful, historic, sun drenched locations and longer summer seasons than even Spain, Turkey truly is a delightful and affordable location.

A prospering country

The economic argument for investing in Turkey is as strong as the life-style one. Plans for Turkish accession to the EU officially opened on 3 October 2005. Though no date for joining is yet fixed, the candidacy of Turkey is expected to further increase foreign interest in the Turkish real estate market, not only by foreign investors but also from developers. Look at what has been happening in Bulgaria, which is currently looking forward to its own accession in 2007 and that is only a year or so away! Investors are expected to reap the benefits by way of further investment into infrastructure and rising house prices. Your dream home in the sun may not be about capital appreciation but it is a comfort to know you and your family can enjoy a place that might one day soon reach a price that you could not afford! Or become a usable asset that would add something to your nest egg if you chose to sell at some time in the future.

Just days after the European Union and Turkey finally agreed to enter into talks for Turkeys EU accession process, Dubai extended a hand of friendship and cooperation to Turkey and committed to an extended real estate investment program worth five billion US dollars. A spokesperson for Amberlamb the property investment specialists said "This financial commitment from Dubai is the first foreign investment offered to Turkey since an agreement with the EU was reached and is therefore seen as highly significant. It is also the first in an estimated 1.2 trillion dollars of inward investment that Turkey is attempting to attract from the Gulf States."

GDP growth in 2004 has been confirmed at 8.9%, considerably higher than expected. This figure is largely due to consumer spending and to investment, which picked up strongly throughout the year.

Turkey received a total of 17.5 million foreign visitors in 2004, a 25% increase on 2003. This trend seems to have continued in the early months of 2005, with visitor numbers up 25.9% in the first seven months of the year, compared to visitor numbers during the first seven months of 2004, helped by a renewal of interest from US citizens. The number of US tourists rose by 31% in 2004 to close to 300,000, which must prove it has a lot to offer to some of the wisest travelers in the world.

With the current improved economic conditions, property values have already recovered and passed pre 2001 value levels. Property funds, both domestic and foreign, are investing again, inflation continues to decline, the economy is growing and the government is expected to continue with the economic program formulated by the IMF.

The residential market is very strong due to declining interest rates and rising confidence in the economy. Commercial property markets, especially in Istanbul, are attracting foreign interest mostly from foreign European and Gulf property funds.

Currently, the most active segment of the real estate market for foreign developers and investors is in retail property. However, there is significant recent interest from foreign developers for holiday home projects located on the Aegean and Mediterranean coast of Turkey and compared to Spain and Portugal, Turkey offers a similar if not longer season at more affordable values.

Yes, but Could bird flu across Turkey prove a real disaster?

You are wise to look carefully at the downside. So, lets look at a worst-case scenario: Past pandemics have spread globally in two and occasionally three waves. Each wave can last from 5 to eight weeks and be separated by three to six months. A pandemic could last for a single wave of no more that a couple of months or in a worst-case scenario it could generate several waves of infection over up to two years.

An average build time for an off-plan property is two years, including those we are handling. So any drop in potential rental activity during the course of endemic infection is irrelevant because by the build time of a property. Whether you are buying to rent or as a holiday home if you time your purchase carefully you are extremely unlikely to find your return on investment lessened by H5N1.

Some observations, in conclusion...

Dont start putting the brakes on any intentions to invest in Turkey on the back of an unfortunate few weeks. It is almost inconceivable that this particular strain of influenza will not have been placed on the biological back-burner by Mother Nature or have been brought under control by means of an effective vaccine by the time any property bought off plan today is finally completed. Remember, current low prices will rise again once all the negative hype has blown over - making investors with foresight plenty of return.

As with all things, do your homework, keep your ear to the ground and employ common sense. The bottom line is that there are far bigger mistakes to be made choosing the wrong development/location/agent than in choosing Turkey as a location for a holiday home or an investment property.

James Wittering is the Marketing manager for EPI. They also have investment property for sale in Turkey

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