Date Published 31 May 2023
The wisteria-covered portico pillars of Belgravia are in full
bloom, and the world's wealthiest are on the hunt for a safe
haven for their families — and their cash.
'We typically see Middle Eastern, Asian and US investors in London,
however, this year one nationality is standing out as unusually
active,' says Becky Fatemi, chief executive at the property buying
agency Rokstone, 'and that is buyers from Turkey.'
There have been thriving communities of Turks, Kurds and Cypriots
in London for decades, congregating mainly around north and
southeast London. However, in the past two to three years they have
been joined by a growing number of Istanbul's monied elite looking
for a stable place in which to invest their wealth.
This week Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who has dominated Turkish politics
for 20 years, narrowly beat Kemal Kilicdaroglu to be re-elected
president, with 52.16 per cent of the vote. The country has been in
economic turmoil since 2018, and this is believed to have led to
Erdogan's party, the AKP, losing Turkey's biggest cities, including
Istanbul and Ankara, in the 2019 local elections. There was a modest
economic recovery during the pandemic, but the Turkish lira lost 44
per cent of its value against the dollar in 2021 after the Central Bank
of Turkey cut interest rates from 19 per cent to 14 per cent.
Camilla Dell, founder of the buying agency Black Brick, says the
currency crash means some Turks can only aZord to rent in London
at the moment, but the wealthier ones are keen to get their money
out of the country. 'Many Turks fear the longer Erdogan remains in
power, the worse the country's economy will become. They have lost
all hope that he can turn it around. His handling of the earthquake
disaster [in February] has only cemented this thought in the mind of
many Turks, both locally and Turkish expats,' she says.
Turkey's high-net-worth population is set to grow by 156.5 per cent by
2027, according to Knight Frank's Wealth Report — faster than any
other country's elite.
Wealthy Turks like to rub shoulders in the prestigious
neighbourhoods long favoured by buyers from the United Arab
Emirates, southeast Asia and, until recently, Russia. Turkish
entrepreneurs were behind some of the biggest property deals in
Knightsbridge, Mayfair, South Kensington and Belgravia last year.
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Hanzade Dogan Boyner, one of Turkey's most high-profile tech
bosses, who founded Hepsiburada, an online shopping platform
dubbed 'the Amazon of the East', bought a six-bedroom Victorian
mansion in Belgravia for £27 million last summer. In the winter there
was a significant sale in Cadogan Square, Knightsbridge, to a Turkish
buyer, who paid £27 million for a property that was originally listed
for £35 million.
Rokstone has completed on several properties on behalf of Turkish
buyers this year, including a £31 million house in Mayfair, a £7.5
million flat in Knightsbridge and a £4.5 million flat in Paddington. In
the past few weeks Fatemi has found two properties for Turks, one in
Knightsbridge and the other near Hyde Park. 'Both wanted a house
with a porter, good ceiling heights and good views,' she says. 'The
political uncertainty in Turkey seems to be the driving factor behind
this heightened interest in London.'
Turkish buyers looking for a speedy purchase will pay cash for newbuild
flats by the River Thames, reports Lindsay Cuthill, founder of
the prime property agency Blue Book. He says: 'Buying momentum
from Turkey, particularly in London's prime postcodes, hits new
heights when they have an election. Instability often encourages
quick financial thinking.'
Institutional Turkish investors too are looking to the UK for solid
returns. Will Watson at the Buying Solution, Knight Frank's in-house
buying agency, confirms that he has started working with a Turkish
fund to find high-end family homes with potential for long-term
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At the end of September 2021 Eren Paper bought Shotton Paper Mill
in Flintshire for £600 million — one of the largest investments made
by a Turkish conglomerate in the UK. It plans to employ 660 people to
make containerboard, a common packaging material.
Turkish buyers aren't just looking to make a quick buck, however.
Owning a holiday home in London is seen as evidence that one has
'made it' in Turkey, according to Dell.
Education is a key driver for upwardly mobile Turkish families,
according to Sophie Rogerson, managing director at the buying
agency RFR, who says that she has a £15 million budget from one
Turkish client to find a house near Francis Holland, a private girls'
school in Sloane Square, Chelsea, that charges fees of £7,750 a term.
Now that Erdogan has won another term, secondary residency is a
'hot topic' among Rogerson's client's friends: one is considering
moving her two children to the capital for the start of the school year,
and a lawyer friend is looking for an investment property in central
'London is not the only option, of course. Greece, Portugal and Italy
are also discussed at length,' Rogerson says. 'However, with English
so commonly spoken among Turks, the transition to life in London is
felt to be more smooth. There is also a view that, with its vibrant
cultural scene, ownership of a London property provides a certain
social cachet that other destinations cannot compete with.'