Heading for the hills by the Aegean in Bodrum
Buying in TurkeyIt's well-heeled, good value and popular with Irish buyers: Peter Murtaghvisits the Bodrum peninsula, and meets a young Turk behind an upmarket villa development
Bodrum isn't quite hopping at this time of year but there's a definite hum around the peninsula. Summer has been tiptoeing ever closer and round about mid-June, it gets going officially . . .
A paparazzo is patrolling already among the beach-side restaurants in Göltürkbükü on the north shore of the peninsula. He moves unhurried among the bright young things from Istanbul for whom this small Aegean Sea bay is the summer playground of choice.
The bodies lying on the pontoons and diving platforms stretching out into the sea, gently flopping into the water every now and then, don't mind his voyeurism.
In fact, several ask for their photos to be taken. Paparazzo obliges with a smile. Indeed if paparazzo wasn't there (and soon he'll be joined by several more), Göltürkbükü would doubtless lose some of its allure for the families of the rich and aspirant rich, minor and not so minor celebrities down from Turkey's bustling, hectic commercial capital to the north.
Long before the rest of us heard about Bodrum, well-heeled Turks were familiar with the town and peninsula of the same name. It's near the bottom left-hand corner of the country, just opposite the Greek island of Kos, which is accessible by ferry, and only an hour or so by air from Istanbul.
Pockets of Bodrum, the peninsula as well as the town (population circa 30,000), have a tasteful, well-heeled feel about them. There are villas dotted about Göltürkbükü and other nearby towns, Torba and Yalikavak, for instance, that ooze . . well, money.
For much of the past 20 years, Bodrum has gained a wider appreciation among northern Europeans - the English (whom one suspects were among the first outside Turkey to "find" it), the Dutch and Scandinavians. They come for the exceptionally long season (almost year round sun) and stay for the low cost of living, good restaurants (especially by the waterside in Gundogan and Yalikavak, and in Bodrum town), and the invariably warm welcome from the locals.
And now the Irish are here in numbers as well. "Some Irish have bought investment land near the airport," my well informed host discloses. Many of the Irish who have bought in and around Bodrum have been attracted by the upmarket feel of the place, compared to the more raucous attractions of Kusadasi further north.
"There are Irish here for sure, some, not too many, but they're here," says Alpcan Yazici, one half of the Turkish side of a UK-Turkey partnership, Braemoregemini, a construction and property management enterprise that has begun to make its mark in and around Yalikavak.
Alpcan and his Turkish business partner, Burak Ozkan, are two young men (both are in their early thirties) who typify the modern 21st century face of secular Turkey. They are proud of their country and its culture but, through long periods in England and the US, they are also familiar with western Europe and North America and see Turkey's future - political and economic - hitched to the wider world.
Alpcan is a geologist and an engineer by profession (he's also a published expert on earthquakes and, usefully for Turkey, how to make buildings to survive them).
His family has been in construction for 35 years. Burak is also a civil engineer but he also has an MBA and is more involved in the financials.
Together with two Britons from Nottingham, Oliver Wheatcrott and Ben Walsgrove, they are finishing off Aegean Hills, a 32-unit development of two-storey, semi-detached, three and five-bed, villas with breathtaking views out over the Aegean just above Yalikavak. Early in the autumn, they will get cracking on Aegean View, a development further along the coast of 38, two-bed apartments, also with stunning views over the Aegean.
At Aegean Hills, where over 20 villas have already been sold, they are aiming firmly at the high end of the market with prices ranging from £157,500 to £185,000 (circa €232,000 to circa €272,000). You can get property in and around Bodrum for less than that but you won't find much in this location for a lot less and not of the quality, style and level of service to which Braemoregemini aspire.
Serious thought has been put into the overall design of the Aegean Hills villas and it shows. They stand out from many around them because of their sleek minimalist modern appearance. Particular design features (sun blocking grills on the patios, sliding doors inside, clever use of all available storage options, expensively and stylishly kitted out bathrooms) are noticeable. Floor-to-ceiling plate glass patio doors, and glass doors onto terraces at all levels, means the barrier between inside and outside is almost non-existent. Someone involved in designing this lot has been influenced by the Japanese.
Each villa has 108sq m (1,163sq ft) of internal space, plus 50sq m (538sq ft) of external terracing and balcony (some villas have an extra terrace). Each villa also has a modest landscaped garden and there's a large communal area where an infinity swimming pool and separate toddler pool are being built.
While the villas also each have their own pools, some potential buyers might be discouraged as, although measuring 18sq m (194sq ft), they are really only plunge pools - great for cooling down but not for the serious swimmer.
There will also be a communal tennis court, car-parking spaces, gated entrance and security. Owners will be able to tootle around in golf buggies and, for longer ventures, a shuttle bus will operate to and from Yalikavak and to the Xuma Beach Club, where membership is on offer at a discount to villa owners.
White goods and kitchen units are included in the purchase price. There are two furniture packs, one which includes beds, blinds, curtains, sofa etc, for £6,000 (circa €8,800), another which has all of that plus TV, dining table and chairs, and just about anything else, for £15,000 (about €22,000).
Prices at Aegean View, where apartments will be around 65sq m ( 700sq ft) in size and all with sea views, are expected to be in the £100,000-£120,000 bracket (about €147,000-€176,000).
The showhouse will be ready next spring and the entire complex built by the spring of 2009. A euro mortgage tie up with Dutch bank DHB is in the pipeline.
General inflation in Turkey is running at about 10 per cent per annum. Property inflation is way above that at anything up to 25 per cent.
Alpcan and Burak's first big venture in Yalikavak, a residential complex in the centre of the village overlooking the new marina and market area, finished last year with three-bed villas selling for €350,000. They go now for €400,000. After sales service for Aegean Hills will include a free concierge service (owner hand-holding plus "where-to-go, what-to-do" advice) and it's estimated that property management fees when the complex is finished will be £80 to £100 (about €118-€149) a month.
Getting there: several charters fly Bodrum direct from Dublin and Belfast from May to October. Year round, Turkish Airlines flies daily to Dublin/Istanbul, with frequent connecting flights to Bodrum