UPDATES WITH COMMENTS FROM ANALYST
By Tuba Sahin
ANKARA (AA) – The number of residential properties sold in Turkey soared 19.2 percent annually in October, the Turkish Statistical Institute (TurkStat) reported on Wednesday.
A total of 146,536 houses changed hands in October, up 15 percent compared to a month earlier.
The number of properties sold to foreigners jumped 134.2 percent year-on-year last month, TurkStat said.
Melih Tavukcuoglu, head of the Contractors’ Association on Istanbul's Asian side, called last month's rise in housing sales to foreigners "historic."
He said easing the requirements for foreigners to acquire Turkish citizenship had helped spur sales.
Under regulations that went into effect this September, foreigners who own real estate in Turkey worth a minimum $250,000 — down from $1 million — are eligible for Turkish citizenship.
Of the total sales, 6,276 houses were sold to foreigners, including 36 percent (or 2,283 units) in Istanbul, the country's largest city by population.
Following Istanbul, the Mediterranean holiday resort of Antalya came second with sales of 1,160 properties, while the northwestern province of Bursa ranked third with 448 units.
Official data showed that Iraqis topped the list of buyers in October with 1,439 properties, followed by Iranians with 557 units, Kuwaitis with 378, Germans with 341, and Russians with 336.
Tavukcuoglu added that the number of properties sold to Germans, British, and Swedes spiked sharply on an annual basis in October — up 222 percent, 131 percent, and 137 percent, respectively — thanks to the "recovery in tourism" this summer.
"We may sell 40,000 units to foreigners in 2018, this is a historic record for our country," he said.