DİDİM - Foreigners in Turkey think twice when buying property as more expatriates claim to be defrauded by real estate dealers. Most recently, three British families in Didim started a legal battle to get their money back from a dealer
Three British couples applied to the prosecution office last week and said they had been defrauded by a dealer in Didim district in the Aegean province of Aydın. The victims said the real estate dealer fled to England after taking money from them and opened a cafe. One couple, Bill and Linda Robshaw, residents of Didim, bought 240 square meters of land for YTL 70,000 from Zeynel Yıldız, owner of the Ezo Property real estate firm.
According to the Turkish code, the couple had to wait for approval from the Commandership of the Army in the Aegean Region, as they were planning to build a villa on the land. Two years after their first application, the couple began to worry, as they had not received their title deed to the land.
After asking Yıldız about the situation, the Robshaws said they were stalled for weeks. The situation became more ambiguous when one day Yıldız closed his firm overnight and disappeared. When the couple tried to find out what had happened to their land, they discovered that last year it had been sold to someone else, much to the shock and fury of the couple.
Bill Robshaw said he still could not understand how he could be tricked by someone who was so close to the family.
"I have known Zeynel for 10 years," said Robshaw, who added he had lost 10 year’s worth of savings. "He attended our wedding three years ago, he was a guest in our house. I still cannot comprehend how he could have done this."
Other victims of Yıldız include Lynne and Alan Reed. They bought an apartment for YTL 60,000 from Yıldız last year, and similarly to the Robshaws, they said they were stalled by the real estate firm. After Zeynel’s disappearance, the Reeds managed to contact the building’s contractor, who told them Yıldız paid only YTL 25,000 to him out of 60,000. Defrauded of YTL 35,000, the Reeds also appealed to the courts.
Jean and Terry Allison are another couple said to have fallen victim to Yıldız. The Allisons bought a villa for YTL 150,000 last year. The couple said they signed the contract with their attorney present, paid YTL 5,000 to Yıldız as a deposit and then wired the rest of the money from England. As they did not receive their title deeds, like the others, they went to the villa they bought after they heard Yıldız had closed his office. The family residing in the property said they had bought the place five months ago from Yıldız.
Terry Allison is utterly bitter.
"Turkey is paradise for the British, but this fraud has turned it into hell for us," he said. "I bought our villa by bank credit. Now, I will pay installments for 20 years for something I do not own."
Allison said the Turkish government should look into the laws for foreigners buying real estate or many others would be defrauded like they were. Sevim Külekçi, vice president of the Association of Real Estate Dealers of Didim, said land sold to foreigners needed approval from the Presidency of the General Staff, according to the law.
"This process lasts three to six months," said Külekçi. "Some of the dealers do not apply at all. There are foreigners in Didim who did not get their title deeds for three years." Külekçi said work aimed at putting an end to the closing of real estate deals with foreigners in one day, began two years ago and land in security zones could not be sold. "Nothing has come up yet," she said. "These procedures should be followed by land registry cadastres, not by army commanderships."
Külekçi said every week there was news about British citizens defrauded through real estate dealers in Turkey and it was seriously harming Turkey’s image.