During this Q & A session with the organisers of the Bodrum Investor Conference, Victoria Vella shared her views on the Turkish real estate market, on obtaining Turkish citizenship by investment, and how the program compares to the ones offered by the rest of the world. Victoria also provided her opinion on how the pandemic has affected her company and what she looks forward to at the upcoming Bodrum Investor Conference.
1. In your opinion, what are the biggest opportunities in Turkish real estate investment?
Turkey is an attractive destination for lifestyle and investments, yet the highly successful citizenship by investment (CBI) programme of Turkey accounts for only 20% of all the real estate sales. The benefit of acquiring property in Turkey, in comparison to other citizenship by investment countries worldwide, is that virtually any property in the Turkish market counts as an eligible investment. This provides the buyers with a vast choice of real estate, the prices of which are not as inflated as when only a handful of properties are authorised for the purposes of the CBI, as is the case in Montenegro and the Caribbean countries.
Thus, for the minimum of $250,000 required to qualify for Turkish CBI one could, for example, buy a beautiful furnished villa by the sea, which can be used as a holiday destination for the entire family, or could be rented out to generate profit. The real estate can be then resold only three years after citizenship is obtained by the investor. Therefore, this way the entire family gets Turkish citizenship, invests in a profitable real estate market, and can exit the investment shorty.
2. How do you compare Turkish citizenship by investment program to the rest of the world?
The Turkish CBI program was introduced relatively recently – in 2017. In comparison, the St Kitts and Nevis CBI programme has been existing since 1983, and is the oldest standing program of its kind.
Nonetheless, the Turkish CBI is by far the most popular scheme in the world. Ever since Turkey dropped its minimum investment price to $250,000 in mid-2019, the popularity of its programme skyrocketed. Currently Turkey approves around 1,500 main applicants per month, which is impressive, especially when taking into consideration that Turkish passport allows visa-free travel to only 110 countries. With the Turkish passport, visas are required to the EU and the UK, which contrasts with what is one of the top selling points of the most other CBI programs. The main benefits of Turkish citizenship in comparison to the other available economic citizenships are the simplicity of the application process, and a relatively low investment threshold.
Most of the applicants for the Turkish citizenship are from the Middle East, for whom their passport of origin is more of a liability than an asset (Iraqis, Iranians etc.) Turkey appeals to them not only because of its strong alternative passport but also because of the cultural and religious similarities. These nationals often cannot apply for other CBI programs because of the restrictions and sanctions related to their countries of origin. However, Turkey gives them this opportunity.
Another attraction of Turkey is its vetting procedure of the applicants. The list of documents to apply for Turkish citizenship is simple in comparison to many other programs. In addition, Turkey offers easy visa access to the UK and the US. All of these factors place Turkey in an advantageous position in relation to other CIP countries. However, Turkish citizenship is not for everyone. As the country does not offer visa-free access to Europe and the US, its political situation can be unstable; most of our clients still choose other available CBI programmes.
The other countries popular among clients are Malta, Portugal, 5 Caribbean states (St Kitts and Nevis, Dominica, St Lucia, Grenada, Antigua and Barbuda,), Montenegro, the UK, and Vanuatu. Interestingly, among clients for other CBI programmes there usually are many Turkish citizens, as they allow them the freedom of movement, insurance policy, tax incentives, and business opportunities that they do not have with their nationality of origin.
3. How did the pandemic affect your business and what are you most excited about as we are slowly coming out of it?
The pandemic showed us all that we were taking for granted the world we lived in pre-2020. At the same time, it was a wakeup call for many investors who in the past, when we would tell them that second citizenship is a solid insurance policy and a great Plan-B instrument, would not quite understand it, well, now they certainly do!
Whenever there are instabilities in the world and threats to peoples’ freedoms, this has a positive impact on the CBI industry. Global HNWIs (High Net Worth Individuals) are not used to being restricted in any way, especially when it comes to their freedoms of movement; the pandemic triggered them to apply for second passports. As the last 1,5 years have shown, if the country decides to rapidly close its borders, the only way you are guaranteed being able to leave it is if you are a citizen of a different country too. Obtaining citizenship by investment is the easiest and quickest way to become a dual national.
We are excited about the possibility to start traveling again and seeing our loved ones, business partners and continuing to build tailored Global Lifestyle Solutions for our clients.
4. What are you most looking forward to at BIC and why do you think it is an important conference to attend?
I am looking forward to comparing the highly popular Turkish CBI program to the other world’s top investor immigration destinations during my speech at this unique industry event, as I am sure that one size does not fit all. I hope to let the audience know of the vast opportunities they can have with different legitimate citizenship by investment programmes, be they Turkish citizens or not. Furthermore, BIC will be a great opportunity for us to meet with the top Turkish professionals and international real estate investors.