Sunday, May 3, 2009

When A Turkey Is A Turkey, Yet Not A Turkey

After waiting for some of the kerfuffle to die down, and some of the more outrageous comments to come out from the public, this is a long debated subject in the overseas property investment business that we feel we have to comment on.

There have been (and still are) many "property investments" that have questionable viability, but the subject of Northern Cyprus has always been a hotly contested one.

For those unaware of the situation, in the mid 70's, North Cyprus was invaded by the Turks and became occupied territory. Many Greek Cypriots fled their homes and have never returned. Since then, Greek Cypriots have been constantly battling to gain access again to their properties and land without much success, and as the property investment boom has continued, the promotion of property in the region to foreigners as an investment has escalated.

As one would imagine, the Cypriots are none too pleased about their home land being flogged as a bargain investment, but it would seem they are about to have their day according to the mainstream press.

The case in question has been going on for years, with small successes in it's progress as time has gone by. In a nutshell, Linda and David Orams built a holiday home on property that Meletis Apostolides was forced to flee when Turkish troops invaded Cyprus in 1974.

They bought it from a Turkish Cypriot at the time, with paperwork issued under the jurisdiction from The Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC)

Now I suppose one might think, I have paperwork, it's stamped, it's issued from the government, all is good! Oh no.

The fact is that TRNC is under occupation, and whilst ok the Turks technically inhabit it as a region, under European law, this is an illegal occupation. What this means in very simple layman terms is that no document issued in the region has any significance at all in the outside civilised world. This includes the likes of marriage certificates, driving licenses, and guess what? Property ownership and title deeds.

This fact is no secret. It has often been conveniently forgotten of course, both by "agents" and buyers of property, both being blinded by the "huge profits" they stand to make.

What is astonishing though is that wife of UK Prime Minister Tony Blair, Cherie Blair has acted as QC for the Orams family! Even more eye opening is that neither Cherie Blair nor the Orams family showed up for the ruling in Luxembourg!

We have commented before the lack of legislation in Turkey itself about property dealings, and the level of corruption that can occur if one is not careful, the fact that it has taken this long to be recognised as a problem in a region under dispute is astounding, but then international court hearings do take quite some time.

The lesson though to be learned from all of this is pretty simple. If a country is under occupation, you are buying stolen goods. It might have paperwork, it might have a government stamp, but even the highest profile lawyer in the land isn't going to be able to make it stick in court.

According to ThisIsMoney, "The Oramses, represented by Cherie Blair QC, insisted they had bought the house in good faith and had Turkish title deeds proving-they owned the land and property."

Hmm, so wife of former Prime Minister is using the defence that "the guy said it was good, honest!" is a basis to allow you to keep the house you built on stolen land?

We try not to delve to far into the political arena here at the rumour mill, but to be honest, there is no sympathy here for "investors" in North Cyprus property. The fact remains that the region is not recognised by anyone other than Turkey, and the fact that they struggle to run their own property systems surely should have thrown up some warning signs to those buying in the TRNC.

As always folks, safe investing is the key. If it sounds to good to be true, it is. Just because someone tells you the price will go up 3 fold, and the rentals will be through the roof, it is no guarantee. If you don't understand what you are investing into, Don't!

As has been promised, we are finally compiling the article about the great bait and switch scam involving several 1000's of property buyers in many countries. We apologise for the delay, but we anticipate publishing later this week, possibly in 2 parts due to the size of what's involved. (We also need the lawyers to approve it!)

To see it first and how it effects you, and what you can do about it if it does, sign up to our feedburner subscription on the home page. Just click onto our Investment Property Rumours link, scroll down the page a little, and you will see a Feedburner box on the right, enter your e-mail address, confirm the e-mail you get from feedburner, and you will then get updates sent direct to your e-mail!

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