Buying Real Estate in Turkey: How to Obtain the Title Deed
Going through the process of buying property in another country can be complex and full of challenges, especially for international buyers who may not be familiar with the local laws. This is a clear 8-step guide to help you understand how to obtain title deed in Turkey.
What to do Prior to the Title Deed Process?
Prior to the title deed process, you need to have completed the background checks of the property in question. Click here to learn the process of real estate background check in Turkey.
Once you are finished with the background and agree on the sale price, the title deed process is as follows:
Step 1: Procurement of Essential Buyer’s Documents
The following documents should be procured by the buyer in order to submit to the title deed office during the application for the real estate purchase:
- (For non-residents) Potential tax ID number of the buyer
- Notarized translation of the buyer’s passport
- Buyer’s headshot photos in the format required by the title deed office
Step 2: Expert Report
In a real estate transaction where a foreign party is involved, it is mandatory to have a surveyor issue an expert report on the property. The application is made online, and a surveyor/expert is randomly appointed by the state. It is the seller’s responsibility to apply for an expert to be appointed to the real estate. However, it is often forgotten that the purpose of this report is to avoid financial abuse towards foreign buyers. More importantly, buyers are presumed to have read the expert report and cannot claim ignorance of its content upon purchasing the real estate. Therefore buyers are strongly advised to obtain a copy of this report and have their Turkish real estate attorney thoroughly review it to make sure that there are not any unpredicted aspects of the property or any disadvantages to buying it.
Step 3: Opening a Turkish Bank Account
Opening a Turkish bank account is necessary for both safely paying the seller by bank and obtaining the document described foreign currency purchase certificate. It is also the most practical way of paying the taxes described in prior to the signing of the official asale agreement and collecting rent after they buy the property and rent it out. Therefore foreign buyers often open a bank account in a Turkish bank for the purpose of buying a property.
Step 4: Obtaining the Foreign Currency Purchase Certificate
In 2022, the regulation changed to make it mandatory for foreign buyers to obtain what is called a Foreign Currency Purchase Certificate (“Döviz Alım Belgesi”) by way of converting their foreign currency to TL. This document is among the documents that are required to apply to the title deed office for real estate purchase. The document is issued by the buyer’s bank. In order to obtain the document, the buyer is required to convert foreign currency into TL at an amount that covers the sale price at a minimum.
Step 5: Applying to the Land Registry Office (“Tapu”)
When all the documents are procured and the buyer is ready to pay the remaining sale price, the parties compile the required documents and the seller electronically applies to the title deed office for the real estate transaction.
Step 6: Paying the Property Transaction Taxes and Duties
When/if the title deed office confirms that all documents are in order, it notifies both the buyer and the seller by SMS and asks them to pay the relevant property transaction taxes and duties. This notification is usually followed by an appointment date and time.
Step 7: Paying the Sale Price
Before the official real estate sale agreement can be signed, the seller is legally required to pay the sale price to the buyer in full. The title deed officer in charge of having the parties sign the official agreement verbally asks the seller and confirms that the seller has been fully paid. This is why the buyer needs to pay the sale price in full before signing the agreement.
However, this creates a brief of time when the buyer fulfills their obligation to pay the sale price before the seller fulfills their obligation to transfer the ownership. This is where a Turkish escrow may assist in ensuring the safety of the transaction. Either an attorney, the bank, or the state can act as an escrow in Turkey so that the exchange of money and ownership is carried out simultaneously. It is highly recommended a Turkish real estate lawyer accompany the buyer during the payment stage.
Step 8: Signing the Official Sale Agreement in the Land Registry Office (“Tapu”)
At the time of the appointment, the parties meet at the title deed office to sign the official real estate sale agreement in the presence of the title deed officer who drafts the contract and presents it to the parties. After the officer confirms that the seller has been paid and the buyer has no further questions about the transaction, the officer asks first the seller and then the buyer to sign the agreement. Video and sound recordings of the signing are collected and kept as permanent evidence by the state.
The ownership is transferred to the buyer at the moment of mutually signing the agreement. The following step, which is the printing out of the new title deed document, is for the buyer’s information and has no legal importance. The actual proof of ownership is permanently kept by the state in both electronic and physical ledgers.
The official sale agreement may also be signed by the attorneys of the parties via power of attorney. For foreign buyers, it is advised to hire a Turkish real estate lawyer so that they do not have to rely on a translator to understand the legal document that they sign.
Turkish real estate lawyer Baris Erkan Celebi and his real estate law firm in Turkey offer legal assistance on how to buy real estate in Turkey. Turkey real estate attorney’s services include obtaining the foreign currency purchase certificate, securely paying the sale price, safely concluding the final sale agreement and successfully acquiring the property by obtaining title deed.