Wednesday, 17 October 2007
A Dönüm Will Do – Part 2
By Pat Temiz who writes a community information website, Fethiye Times, for ex-pats living in southwest Turkey.
In early May 2003, on my daughter’s birthday, Ronnie emailed photographs of a piece of land just over 1200 square metres with a small old house and a wooden barn. It was in a village some five miles west of Fethiye in the middle of orange groves. Three of the land’s boundaries were irrigation channels that looked like natural streams and it was 15 minutes walk to the nearest beach. It looked fantastic and the asking price was £16,000.
I replied instantly saying that, while we weren’t prepared to buy without actually visiting the place, we had bought our flight tickets for 20 July and I felt sure, once we’d seen it, we would buy and pay the initial asking price. The money would be in our bank in Turkey by then and we would pay cash. Could Ronnie please explain all this to the owner?
He said he would. Meanwhile, I printed off the photographs and we gazed at them, each dreaming of the garden we would create and telling each other we hadn’t bought it yet so shouldn’t take things for granted, a lot could go wrong before we got to Fethiye again in July.
In late June on my birthday, an email from Ronnie told us we had lost the property. The owner had sold it to a Turkish buyer for £12,000. Ronnie was very sorry but promised to have other places lined up for us to look at in July. I consoled myself with the age-old “it wasn’t meant to be”, but I’d invested so much time in dreaming of living there that losing the place left me feeling bereft.
We arrived in Fethiye on 21st July after an overnight bus journey from Istanbul which left us exhausted. We settled into our rented apartment, relaxed and slept and then arranged to meet Ronnie, who surprised us by announcing that we could still be in with a chance to buy the property, as the Turkish buyer had only paid a small deposit and had until the end of July to come up with the balance.
On the strength of that possibility we drove out to see it, although the “viewing” was confined to drinking tea with the neighbour two empty plots away and gazing longingly at the house and land that we thought we’d lost.
It was perfect. Mature trees surrounded the house providing much-needed natural shade; the land was planted as an orange grove though the trees looked neglected and there was a family living in the house.
The owner, the older brother of the neighbour giving us tea, had installed them as caretakers around ten years previously when he’d moved into the town. We learned there was a family feud going on between the tea-serving neighbour and his four siblings who had each inherited a fifth of the family land when their father died – their mother had died giving birth to the youngest daughter many years before.
So the plot we coveted was “hisseli” which translates as “divided into shares” and means that, strictly speaking, the purchase and any building thereafter needs written consent from the other shared owners.
As we are drinking tea, the putative new Turkish owner arrives with his British wife and her mother, and they walk past the terrace on which we sit to visit the property they are about to acquire. Our host watches them pass and says, “I won’t give them my permission for the sale,” then smiling at us adds, “but I would give it to you”.
Too late, I think, knowing full well that the Turkish man I have just seen pass by will happily buy the place without any written agreement from other “hisseli” owners and, by the time his action becomes an issue at some distant date in the future when a development plan is drawn up for the village, he may have to pay a small fine, and then all will be forgotten.
The next day, my daughter flies in for a week and we go to the notary and create a power of attorney, which means I can buy in her name. Whatever happens I am now ready to buy.
Ronnie has no other places for us to see at the moment so we swing into holiday mode: swimming in the apartment complex pool; going to the beach; eating out in restaurants.
On the 29th, Ronnie phones to say the Turkish buyer has visited the owner and asked for an extension of his time to pay the balance. The owner, Osman, has returned his deposit and is willing to sell to us immediately. We arrange to meet Ronnie’s wife, Ayçağ, with Osman the next day to buy the property. Leyla opts to stay by the pool, saying I can use the power of attorney while she works on her tan.
The 30th is a blur of official offices, racing around town by taxi, finally getting to the payment stage in my bank only to be informed they don’t have enough money in bank to make the payment.
Apparently, I should have warned them the previous day and they would have ensured funds were available. However, our helpful bank worker comes up with a solution. Osman must open an account at my bank and then a paper transfer of funds can take place. I agree to pay the 5 million lira charge for opening the account (about £2).
Just as we are waiting in the bank for the new account to be opened, Ayçağ’s mobile phone rings. It is her assistant at the office letting us know that Hasan, Osman’s younger brother who’d given us tea a few days previously, had just been into the office to announce the sale could not go ahead because he wouldn’t give permission unless I paid him the Turkish equivalent of £800.
Unbeknown to Hasan, I had decided to take a Turkish attitude to the purchase and go ahead without written permissions. I’d get them later. However, a very angry Hasan could not be ignored, so Ayçağ, Osman and I walk along the harbour and then up four flights of stairs to her office where there is no sign of Hasan.
I am anxious to get on with the process of buying as we still have to visit the Land Registry Office where the land will finally be signed over to Leyla – or strictly speaking to me acting on her behalf.
We move to leave the office when Hasan suddenly charges through the door and takes a very clumsy swing at his older brother. He is followed by his two very beautiful teenage daughters who grab his arms. Osman shouts. Hasan shouts. The elder of the girls tries to calm things down. “Please, uncle…”
Osman interrupts before she can go any further. “Don’t you uncle me.”
I say clearly in Turkish, “I am not paying a penny more than the agreed purchase price”.
By now Hasan, a short man, has a tall daughter hanging on to each arm but Osman, also short, is staying well out of range. They shout at each other some more with the girls slowly steering their distraught father towards the door. As they exit he turns, looks at me and says, “I give permission”. If only I’d known at the time that it wasn’t his to give – but that knowledge came later.
Ayçağ, Osman and I return to the bank and the money is paid into Osman’s new account. The pound has fallen since we agreed the price in early May so the purchase has cost £17,300.
The Land Registry is an anti climax after the scene in the office; we are in and out in less than half an hour and I am holding the tapu (title deed) which clearly states that Leyla Temiz now owns one fifth of the land left by Ali Taşdemir, specifically Plot A on the attached plan.
I am exhausted, but we own a house and land.