Owning a home a dream’: Housing crisis hits Turks ahead of polls

Turkey is going through an immense housing crisis before key elections, amid hyperinflation and an economic downturn.

Housing prices across Turkey recorded an increase of 141.5 percent year-on-year in March, according to official data [Erdem Sahin/EPA]

Serhan Ulkucu and his wife had to bargain hard with their landlord before they could seal a deal to renew the annual lease for their family home in the Istanbul neighbourhood of Bostanci.

The monthly rent for the family’s two-bedroom flat, where they live with their seven-year-old son, has increased by 147 percent in a year, from 4,650 Turkish liras to 11,500 liras (about $600) – 25 percent more than the minimum wage in Turkey.

“I have recently lost my job and my wife’s salary pretty much can just pay the rent,” 41-year-old Serhan, who used to work for an e-commerce company, told Al Jazeera.

“We will try to live on the legal severance pay I received until I find a new job; I don’t know what we would do if I did not receive that,” he said, adding that new tenants pay about 15,000 liras ($770) for flats similar to theirs.

Turkey has been going through soaring inflation and an economic downturn that have hit the country particularly hard since last year, in the run-up to critical presidential and parliamentary elections set to test public support for Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on May 14.

Although the continuing cost-of-living crisis affects all parts of life, the cost of housing specifically has significantly surpassed the already high general inflation rate.

According to data from Turkey’s central bank, property prices across the country in February recorded (PDF) an annual increase of 141.5 percent in Turkish liras. Property prices have increased about 75 percent in US dollars during the same period.

The colossal increase in property prices is happening despite a continuing fall in property sales – in March the number of sales dropped 21.4 percent year-on-year, according to the Turkish Statistical Institute.

The cost of renting a property across Turkey was also up in March, 157 percent year-on-year, a report by the Center for Economic and Social Research (BETAM) at Istanbul’s Bahcesehir University said.

Meanwhile, official data showed annual inflation at 50.5 percent in March, down from a high of 85.6 percent in October, while the Inflation Research Group (ENAG), an independent group of experts, recorded March inflation as 112.5 percent – far behind the housing market rate.

Source/Read More : Al Jazeera