A SEASIDE VIEW - Living in Alanya
Saturday, June 30, 2007
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» A SEASIDE VIEW - Living in Alanya
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» INSIDE TURKEY
Being in Alanya
How does it feel to be living in Alanya at the moment? The changing pace is enough to make one’s head spin. In the time it takes to drive to the supermarket and buy necessary ingredients for lasagna, the road home turns into a one-way street that is dug up in six places. The hot weather makes Alanya’s 23,500 noisy, pavement-hogging mopeds no easier to bear.
However, beautification of Alanya town center, fortunately, is almost finished and it takes our minds off all the concrete going up on the hills. The man-made parks will be our green areas now that the banana plantations have given way to Utopia World, Sunset Residences and Dream Villa Parks. (Pseudonyms used for this article, but over 15,000 properties with similar celestial labels are on sale.)
What about the builders of these dream homes, trapped by the current slump in the luxury property market? Most are struggling to pay back high-interest bank loans. Prior to becoming property developers, many were making a modest living in the hotel or restaurant business. Now, they are forced to turn their attention back to old trades to finance loans. Some are bewildered and wonder just what happened. It was like a great pyramid scheme, the ones who got in first made all the money, those who joined too late lost and continue losing.
The slump in the property market has left many foreigners, who were active in the real estate sector, in a dilemma. Should they stay or should they go? Builders appreciated the advantage of using foreigners to market their properties, resulting in any half-personable foreigner—with or without skills—being offered work within seconds of meeting.
Inside knowledge of advertising, their ease in traveling to overseas exhibitions without visas and language skills, made these foreigners invaluable to Alanya’s property market. The only companies still surviving in today’s tough times are those with strong contacts abroad and those wholly owned by foreigners.
But now that the market has slumped, the same foreigners who worked illegally, (it is almost impossible to get a work permit for the real estate sector), are struggling to get the pay and commission owed to them. Being illegal workers, they have no rights of course. Other employment available is also illegal, but less risky and a lot less lucrative like airport transfer work for major tour operators. So should they stay or should they go?
Ironically, there is a direct correlation between why properties are not selling and the lack of work opportunities for foreigners in the area. The number of people, who will buy a home overseas, to use for a few weeks every year, is limited. A builder thinks, ‘I’ll build hundreds of expensive, luxury apartments for foreigners to buy’. But he should really be asking himself, ‘what will a foreigner do with a home here?’
So far Alanyans have not been satisfied with any of the typical buyer profiles. Majority of Alanya’s 10,000 foreign residents have waited until retirement before settling here. But their limited spending power, in a country where the cost of living is rising quickly, is never going to set the local economy alight. The holiday-home buyer who finances the purchase by renting the property out is naturally unpopular with the hotel industry. The foreigner who falls in love with Turkey and wishes to settle and work is unlikely to secure a work permit and risks fines or deportation. As for investment buyers—those who leave the property empty, expecting to sell in a few years for a profit—the builders who sold to them are sabotaging the re-sale market through their reluctance to accept the impact over-development has on the market.
Arguably, if new legislation regarding work permits, currently being discussed by the Turkish government, were to favor foreign workers entering sectors such as real estate and tourism, then Alanya’s problems of surplus housing stock and high personnel turnover could disappear – just as quickly as its green areas.