Older houses are thin on the ground in the Turkish resorts, but would-be renovators need not despair, as there are some historic gems to be found – if you know where to look.
“Traditional stone and timber houses are expensive to maintain and without any official protection until comparatively recently, many old buildings were demolished or left to fall down,” says Dominic Whiting, editor of the Buying in Turkey guide. “But luckily there are some exceptions where historic buildings survive in large numbers.”
Taking a stroll down the narrow lanes of Antalya’s old town is like walking back in time. Tucked within the historic walls and besieged by a modern city of apartment blocks, buy a house in turkey and get citizenship many of the graceful Ottoman mansions, or konaklar, have been beautifully restored and are now boutique hotels and guesthouses. A few houses still lie in disrepair, though prices are steep.
Even more expensive are the waterside houses, or yal1, on the Bosphorus in Istanbul – but these are highly sought after and prices tags run into seven figures. Old apartments in the trendy inner-city areas of Beyoglu or Galata are more affordable, with prices from £75,000 for a two-bedroom flat in a 19th century block. Most have high-ceilings and many retained charming original features like original ironwork or tiles.
For an affordable renovation project check out the Aegean town of Ayval1k. A Greek town until 1923, when the residents were forced to leave for Greece, the cobbled streets are lined with atmospheric stone town-houses.
“Some have already been restored, though many more lie in varying stages of dereliction. Prices start from £25,000 for a small house in need of complete renovation; while newly completed properties fetch £50,000-£100,000,” says Dominic Whiting.
The inhabitants of Cappadocia in central Turkey traditionally lived in cave houses burrowed from the region’s soft volcanic rock. “The Cappadocian cave dwellings are like something out of a fantasy novel, like Hobbit houses – they make really atmospheric homes, which benefit from fantastic natural insulation too,” says Dominic Whiting. “Renovated cave homes fetch up to £100,000 in the most sought-after villages, like Goreme, though you can still pick-up a wreck for less than £20,000 in an off-the-beaten-track village.”
Before proceeding with the purchase of an old property in Turkey have a builder or structural engineer check the building and quote for any renovation work. Despite low labour and material costs, even renovating in Turkey can get expensive. Houses over a certain age with almost certainly need complete re-wiring and re-plumbing and major structural work is also not unusual. It is essential to get a solicitor to check the title and whether the house is in a conservation area, or sit alan1. In these areas of archaeological, environmental or historic importance there are strict controls on any kind of building or renovation work. Your plans may have to be passed by the Çevre Koruma Kurumu, the government department that manages officially protected areas, as well as the local planning committee.