Towards the end of 2014, the perennially popular city of Istanbul in Turkey was being identified as a rapidly emerging hotspot for property investment. Less than half way through 2015 and recent numbers from the Turkish Statistical Institute (TÜÍK) show property prices in Istanbul are increasing at 20% year-on-year, proving many positive forecasters to be completely accurate.
The stats show that in the year to April, property sales in Turkey increased 42.7%, driven by the sale of 23,197 homes in Istanbul, almost 10,000 more than the capital, Ankara.
Almost half of total transactions are made of new-build sales, reaching a record 52,958 across the country, representing a gain of 40.1% year-on-year. 20.3% of new build homes sold were in Istanbul.
The exponential rise in Turkey's property prices is attributed to increased demand from the Gulf region, propelling foreign investment by 14.7% over the 12 months to April.
Domestic demand in Turkish property has also improved on the back of stronger economic fundamentals and low mortgage rates. According to the institute's press release, mortgaged house sales throughout Turkey reached 46,063, increasing 96.5% compared to April 2014. The majority of property transactions with mortgage finance were in Istanbul with 9,718 sales, representing a mortgage market share of 21.1%.
Istanbul sold the most properties to foreigners during April, with 584 transactions followed by Antalya with 507, Bursa and Yalova 133, Aydin 90, Mersin 76 and Sakarya with 63 house sales to overseas buyers.
Director of leading estate agency Spot Blue International, Julian Walker said: "These figures show that foreign buyers account for every 1.5 transactions every 100 sales, with the importance of these foreign transactions growing significantly over the last month".
"In Istanbul, the demand is coming from the Gulf, from a number of countries with many buying for both personal use and investment. The proximity of Istanbul to the Gulf region and lifestyle work well with these Gulf citizens," he added.
Adil Yaman, director of Turkish estate agency Universal21 believes the country's rapidly expanding infrastructure, economic development and relative property values make Istanbul a particularly attractive investment destination.
"Istanbul has much to offer both the short-term visitor and the longer-term property purchaser. There is a really positive, exciting vibe of growth and evolution in the city today, drawing international attentions and increasingly so," he said.
Set to bolster property markets further is the significant 5.5% annual rise in international visitors to Turkey. Istanbul was the most googled location in the world during 2014 and the city itself saw an increase of 8.99% in visitor numbers, according to the Turkish Ministry of Culture and Tourism.