Property Purchase Advice


I'm sad to have to say this, but it feels like everyone here is out to con you. I know that "everyone" is not, & there are many honest, trustworthy people here. We have met a few ourselves & have made some very good friends. BUT, and it's a very big BUT, you have to be SO wary. It is common practice to get befriended by a local who will tell you that you are like a brother or sister to them and swear their undying friendship to you. I will give you a few examples below so you know what I mean. We will however not mention any names & will not always be precise about all the circumstances to avoid anyone being identifiable.

Example 1. - A lesson learned.
We came to Bodrum for a few days in February 2006 to look at land & property. We were on the Dolmus one day chatting when a Turkish guy who was sat beside us laughed at something we said. He spoke English so we struck up a conversation with him. He offered to help us when we moved here in April and we swapped e-mail addresses. Over the next couple of months before moving we exchanged a couple of e-mails and he again said to make sure we got in touch when we arrived.

Turkish-drinking-water (5K)A couple of days after we got here, we needed some help finding second-hand furniture shops & translation so we gave him a call. Over the next couple of weeks he was very helpful to us, showing us lots of useful things. For example, he told us not to buy the 5 litre bottles of drinking water in the supermarkets, but to buy a dispensing pump & get 19 litre bottles delivered. He even gave us a couple of empty bottles so we didn't have to pay a deposit. We visited his house a couple of times and met his wife & child. He had black mould all over his bedroom ceilings due to damp. He told us his child had breathing difficulties because of this, but he couldn't afford to move to a better place.

I had some doubts about his motives for helping us, so I told him one day that I felt like we were taking advantage of his time & asked him what was in it for him. He told me not to worry & that he was sure we'd return the favour one day. He was aware we had business plans and thought we could help each other in the future.

Towards the end of April, he asked me if I could do him a favour. He said he had found a new place to live but did not have the deposit. He said he was due some commission at the end of May for a house sale referral & asked me if I would lend him 250 YTL (about £100) until then. I really didn't want to do so, but felt that he had helped us a lot over the past few weeks so felt like I should try to help him. I questioned him about the commission he was due & asked if it was definite. I told him not to let me down. He looked me in the eye & assured me he would repay me on time. He told me he'd be stupid not to as he'd lose my trust & any chance of future business cooperation. I decided that as it was only £100 I'd lend it to him. I thought that he'd probably given us £100 worth of help anyway since we'd been here, so if he let me down it wasn't that much of a big deal, but it was a good test of his honesty.

Turkish-money (5K)Well, suffice it to say, at the end of May I heard nothing from him & he failed to answer any of my phone calls or e-mails. I think however that £100 was money well spent. He could have been one of the people who spend months or even years gaining your friendship & trust before they pounce. At least I learned my lesson at a cost of only £100 instead of perhaps the cost of my house, like many before me.

Example 2. - Check Everything.
A friend of our recently had a pressurised water system fitted, which included a 2,000 litre water tank. This is necessary in the Bodrum area as there are water shortages & frequently the mains water is turned off for a day or more at a time. Anyway, our friend was quoted a reasonable price, had the system fitted & was happy with the work. So, when a nearby neighbour asked him about it, he was happy to recommend the person who fitted his system. The neighbour placed an order.

A few days later, our friend happened to drop by his neighbours & saw a water tank on the balcony ready to be placed in the hole in the ground that had been prepared. Our friend thought the tank looked a bit small so went to take a closer look. The guys tried to hurry the tank into the ground but our friend stopped them & noticed the label giving the tank capacity had been removed. He questioned the man who said it was a 2,000 litre tank. Our friend then found markings which proved it was only 1,500 litre & the man lied again, then tried to wriggle out of it & blame someone else. He eventually apologised, but in fact all he was sorry for was the fact that he'd been caught out! Suffice it to say that he was kicked off the premises & will lose many referrals in the future.

Examples 3 & 4. - ALWAYS put EVERYTHING in your name
Until recently, it was not possible for a foreigner to buy a vehicle in their own name unless they were a resident. It was therefore not uncommon for a foreigner to buy a car & put it in a friends name. If this friend is honest, then no problem, but frequently the "friend" will claim the car as his own & use or sell it. We know of an English guy who had exactly this happen to him. It took 4 years before he eventually got the car back. He was very lucky to get it back at all. BUT, it is still not legally his & he cannot yet use it until a court case has been held.

We were also very upset recently to hear that a friend's husband has sold her house and stolen the money. He was a waiter she'd met years earlier & she recently came out to live here. Now she is penniless & has had to move back home.This is VERY common out here. You frequently hear stories of Turkish guys marrying foreigners for money. Don't be flattered or fooled. Be careful & protect your interests.

Example 5. - ALWAYS use an independent solicitor
This story is in fact fictitious but is based on facts. Mr. A meets Mr. B. who he met years ago when he ran a bar. After a while Mr. B finds out that Mr. A is interested in buying a property but suggests to him that instead of buying a house, he could buy some land & have Mr.B build a house for him on that land. Mr. B is now a builder instead of a Bar owner. This can be a great way to buy a home overseas, as you can specify the house to your requirements and choose the land where you would prefer to be. You also get the whole package at a price often much cheaper than if you'd bought a finished property. Anyway, Mr. A has come to trust Mr.B & thinks of him as a friend, so he trusts his advice. They agree on approximate specification for a house & find some land. By now it is time for Mr. A to fly home & he is running short of time. Mr. B says he doesn't need to bother with a solicitor & that he'll tie up all the loose ends for him & tell him when to send the money. A little while later Mr. B asks Mr. A to send him £50,000 to pay for the land. Mr. A is a little nervous but trusts Mr. B so sends the money.

Several months go by & Mr. B keeps Mr. A updated with the progress of his house, & e-mails him the occasional picture so he can see how it is coming along & he makes stage payments for the building works.

About a year later the house is just about complete & Mr. A books his flights to go out & furnish the house. When Mr. A arrives however he finds that his house is not as big as he asked for & in fact 2 houses have been built on his land. Mr. A has no contract with Mr. B & can legally do nothing. In fact the house and the land are in Mr. B's name, so Mr. A has to be careful not to upset Mr. B or he may end up losing the lot.

Don't be put off by these sorry tales. These are small-minded people who can't see past the next person they hope to con. There are honest businessse out there who do a good job. You just need to find them. Always bare these stories in mind when you're dealing with people. Don't feel that you'll upset your friend if you tell them you're going to get a quote from someone else, or you're going to use a solicitor. This is the sensible thing to do. For example, would you even consider buying a house in the U.K. without using a solicitor? If they are a true friend, then they'll want you to make the best decision for you. If your friend tells you they are upset or tries to pressure you in any way, then perhaps they are not a real friend after all. Perhaps they have something to hide! Do things the right way & make sure your purchase is a safe one.

We are intent on raising the standards of business in the Bodrum area and are making plans at the moment. In the meantime, if you're considering buying property here, and would like to learn more about our Unbiased Property Purchase Advice Service, please Download our Brochure for more details or call us on 0090 5387 402497 or 0090 5387 402498.

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