Most people reading about Turkey or even overseas property on a regular basis will have heard of the bold plans unveiled by Prime Minister Erdogan for splitting Istanbul into 2 separate cities for easier governance. The proposed split would be along the Bosporus, with the European side and the Anatolian side becoming 2 new cities.
Istanbul is currently one of the hottest property markets in the world, with commercial property, residential property and holiday property all catching the eye of global investors. What would splitting this vibrant market mean for property investors, would it make a difference?
For me the answer is a definite yes, and for the better as well. Currently investors are targeting the residential sector because the population is growing rapidly in number and affluence. It is unlikely that the growth in either area would be stunted by the split, but coming out of the easier governance both sides of the then divided city would be much better placed to flourish.
Istanbul's forward face is of a dynamic boom city, flourishing amidst strong growth and soaring consumer confidence. But beneath the surface the city still has a slum problem. The government has recently been making a concerted effort to turn the slums into proper neighbourhoods, but this is obviously a huge logistical headache. Obviously splitting this in two would split the slum problem into a more manageable size for both municipalities.
However, not everyone is happy about the potential split, some investors take the stance that if something isn't broke don't fix it.
In any case, according to many experts the split will never come to pass, it is simply a sound bite from the government in advance of the June 12th general election.
"The prime minister has these sorts of ideas. It does not matter if these projects come alive. They are sound bites," said opposition People's Republican Party vice-president, Gürsel Tekin.
A sentiment echoed by Ayse Onol, a former journalist from Istanbul who knew Erdogan when he was mayor, who said the announcement was not a serious proposal. "People in Turkey just care about headlines, Erdogan knows this. 2023 is far in the distance. People think we will be grander than America; this is a populist policy. It doesn't matter if Istanbul is divided into two or 12. What matters is how the city is used, not how it is divided."
So it looks like investors have little to worry about in Istanbul's future, because whether the city is split or not it is unlikely to dampen property demand.