Spoiler alert: Its not cheap
A villa overlooking the world famous Bosphorous strait is a wonderful thought - oftentimes it is a fanciful thought. However, this is a question that is asked by many property investors in Istanbul. Whether its an investment, a second home, or a new life in Istanbul, overlooking the Bosphorous from a villa is the ultimate luxury in Istanbul real estate.
Here is some guidance on land pricing on the four districts that line the Bosphorous
Land in Uskudar is scarcely available due to its historic past. Most land is small plots (less than 500 square metres) with permits for 4-5 storey apartment blocks. These tend to be profitable for small to medium size builders to build and sell. Land suitable for villas can be found in the Cengelkoy neighbourhood of Uskudar.
Cengelkoy offers a range of sizes, but one must remember that the region is undergoing heavy regeneration. Hence construction in the region of standard apartment buildings and compounds will continue for 10-15 years. As of writing, prices for land vary form 1,100 USD to 2,000 USD. This means for a plot of 2,000 sqm with permission for a 400 sqm villa, would cost between 2.2m USD to 4m USD. The actual cost will depend on the location and view.
Heading north of Uskudar is the huge Beykoz district. Beykoz is heavily protected by the Bosphorous planning laws. However, its high density of forest means it is further protected from new zoning by Forest laws. Hence Beykoz is exceptionally sought after and finding plots for villas overlooking the Bosphorous is a real challenge. Beykoz is also not an officially zoned district, with a few exceptions for older town centres. This makes basic utilites a real challenge as well. Strict zoning laws are reflected in restrictive permits. Most plots will have a maximum 5-10% of zoning. This means one can build a footprint worth 5-10% of the land size. This is further restricted to two stories. This means that a land of 10,000 sqm will be allowed to have a 500 - 1,000 sqm footprint, and a two storey building installed.
As of writing pricing remains similar to Uskudar for plots with views.
Heading directly across the Bosphorous to Sariyer on the European side, zoning is a bit easier to deal with. Having said that, the Bosphorous planning committee still applies, and they apply some of the strictest zoning laws in the world. Sariyer generally has a range of plots available, with varying degrees of views - from the seafront panoramic view, to the partial view looking down a valley.
This results in a huge variation in pricing. Pricing is also affected by location, with prices increasing as one heads from north to south. As an example, a plot of land in Zekeriyakoy with a partial view can cost 1,000 USD per sqm. A "seafront" plot of land in areas like Istinye or Tarabya, will cost in excess of 2,000 USD per square metre.
All these prices are for plots without planning permission - one would need to go through the process which can take approximately 12-18 months if successful. Even plots with permission can be expensive. As a working example, Pera Property is sole agent for a 3,900 sqm plot in Rumelikavagi, which is a northern neighbourhood of Sariyer. It already has planning for a 500 square metre single storey villa, and is priced at 4m USD - that's a cool $1,000 per sqm for a plot with no view.
Besiktas is prime real estate, and home to the most expensive real estate in Turkey and possibly in the top ten of world cities. Besiktas is extremely restrictive in planning and zoning. Prized neighbourhoods like Bebek and Arnavutkoy are heavily protected. One would need to have at least 5,000 sqm plot size before applying for permission. This would be granted with heavy restrictions and a maximum of 10% in footprint and 2 stories.
At the time of writing (April 2021), land suitable for villas trade at 3,000 USD to 6,000 USD per square metre depending on the view. Land with permission and a view, would go for closer to the 10,000 USD per sqm mark.
So what have we learned
Well, one needs deep pockets to buy land and build in Istanbul if a Bosphoruos view villa is desired. The alternative is to buy an existing villa and strip it back to the skeleton - and refurbish it to ones own desires. This would be the financially prudent option, as well as adminstratively easier option.