Turkey on scope: Soaring inflation, Rent & Refugees

Accommodation or the right to adequate housing, as a human right, is an integral part of the right to an adequate standard of living. However, the world has lately been dealing with an unprecedented surge in housing and rental prices that threatens this very fundamental right. Realtor companies, research centers, the Central Bank of the Republic of Turkey (CBRT), and the Turkish Statistical Institute (TSI) data provide enough evidence that house prices and rental costs are soaring, up to a few hundred percentage points in Turkey.

This recent sizable jump in property prices and rental rates, however, is mainly due to supply shortage and increasing costs of production. There is, overall, certainly a very high demand due to the younger population, increasing external demand, and recent migration waves towards Turkey. Meanwhile, housing supply has also been relatively weak and insufficient, which has affected the increasing house and rental prices and often leading to false allegations against immigrants.

Meanwhile, as of June 2022, official records reveal that the average housing demand from foreigners is about 5-6 percent of the total demand in Turkey. In other words, foreigners, and especially immigrants, are being scapegoated and hence, there is an urgent need to shed light on some misperceptions over property prices in Turkey and put an end to the theory that mainly immigrants or foreigners cause inflation or house price booms.

Rent & Housing in Turkey

Inflation is making life very costly for everyone living in Turkey, just as it is globally. Inflation rate has recently hit 79 percent—the highest in the past 24 years. Residential property prices and rental rates are among the leading factors in this figure. Decreasing supply in the past few years (especially during the pandemic), policies that surge demand in Turkey, increasing costs of production (a negative supply shock), and increasing demand are considered amongst the primary reasons for this surge.

The CBRT Residential Property Price Index (RPPI), for example, has reached 430.60 in May 2022 (Fig. 1). In 2017, this figure stood at 100. As of May 2020, the annual RPPI inflation is at 145.5 percent YOY (year-over-year). The inflation adjusted real-terms growth in residential property prices, on the other hand, is at 41.1 percent YOY. The real-terms growth in particular, is pretty much in line with the respective figures in the U.S. and Europe.

Rental rates are no different. Rental prices are up by 300-400 percent in some regions in southern Turkey, and up by 200-300 percent in some neighborhoods in Istanbul. Data by Endeksa, a private realtor, shows that, as of June 2022, rental rates in Muğla, a southwestern tourism hub, are up by 73 percent (reaching15,000 TL); in Antalya by 310 percent (10,400 TL); and in Istanbul the average rental rate is up by 168 percent (8,100 TL).

Of course, just as with the ongoing global inflation problem, soaring property prices and rental rates are also a global issue today. The U.S., the UK, many European, or even Asian economies such as China are facing new rounds of property crises and unprecedented price hikes in different forms. As Figure 2 demonstrates, many European and North American economies are facing this run-up in property prices. Turkey, with its relatively higher internal and external (exchange rate) inflation, is an outlier nowadays, and has a relatively higher price surge.

In the U.S., the Case-Shiller Home Index reached 306 in May 2022. In January 2022, the index level was at 212, which means there is a 44 percent increase in the valuation of an average U.S. house over the past two and half years (Fig. 3). Average house prices are up by 10-15 percent in the past year, according to the National Association of Realtors (NAR). In the UK, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) data shows it would, on average, take a paid employee around 40 years to save and invest in order to buy a house.

Property bubble arguments, rocket high rents around the world are evident. However, recent tightening cycle and its further consequences for the global property markets are yet to be observed. The increasing costs of production, the rising cost of debt due to the recent tightening trend, and the concerns that properties are overpriced need to be kept under careful scrutiny. So, what can we expect in the future?

Commercial property investments are lately in decline in the West, including in the U.S., the UK, and Germany. China is already shaken by the property crisis or the Evergrande crisis in particular, and homebuyers are refusing to pay mortgage loans. The post-pandemic demand for rural areas and land may also take down urban real estate prices.

New trends such as remote work may also help bring down demand for office rentals. Swiss bank UBS expects a 20 percent decline in demand for office leases. Shares of real estate companies and real estate trusts may also go down, but house prices are likely to remain high—hopefully, however, without increasing further.

Read the full article: https://politicstoday.org/house-inflation-immigrants-and-refugees-in-turkey/