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So You Want to Hire a Realtor in Istanbul

My one-year experience from hell with a Turkish architect and an Istanbul realtor who made me run away from my homeland

This three-story house on Hisarbayiri Sokak No 17 in Rumelihisari, Istanbul, with killer views of the Bosphorus, had a unique, modern architecture.

When I turned 50 I decided to live in Istanbul as I had been away from home for the past 30 years. After my experience (my luck) with realtors, architects and a landlord straight from a horror movie, I closed my Istanbul home after a year and ran back to my Florida paradise this January.

My one-year residence from January 15, 2012, through January 15, 2013.

In December of 2011 I met Istanbul Kanyon Residance realtor Sara Eskinaz of "Sara Eskinaz Gayrimenkul" (http://www.saraeskinazgayrimenkul.com.tr) who showed me the house I was interested in through another local realtor Senol Tinaz of "Private Gayrimenkul" (http://www.privategayrimenkul.com).

The Turgut Alton home on Hisarbayiri Sokak, No 17 in Rumelihisari, Istanbul, had killer views. Trying to live in this house was truly a nightmare.

So, you want to hire a realtor in Istanbul? Please read on... after paying Sara Eskinaz a $2,000 service fee, she disappeared, never answering my phone calls and emails, until I tweeted her name questioning her whereabouts. Within minutes after reading my tweet realtor Sara Eskinaz called me in Florida with hundreds of excuses as to why she never got back to me.

Effective January 15, 2012, I signed a one-year lease with the owner of the house I had selected, with an option to extend it to two years and/or purchase the property at the end of the lease term.

We soon realized during our first night in our new home that the heating system did not work. We spent the night under many blankets and using a hair dryer to stay warm in sub-zero temperatures. We didn't have hot water either. The next day I emailed a video clip of our first night at home to the owner and both realtors. No reply back.

Architect Turgut Alton built a kitchen hidden illegally under the backyard.

That same week I met the owner, Turgut Alton (http://www.turgutalton.com), a soft-spoken, well-known and accomplished architect with a number of landmark projects in Istanbul to his credit. It took him two weeks to send his repair folks to fix the heating problem, but after two months we still did not have heat or hot water. During a visit to our home, Turgut Alton proudly explained that he built the kitchen illegally where the required backyard and green area were in his architectural plans. He hid the kitchen under a "make believe garden" and obtained building permits from the city.

Mom passed away in the house which was contaminated with deadly mold during the 12 months I lived there.

The only option left for me during the  brutal winter months of Istanbul was to return to Florida as it was impossible to live under "no heat" and "no hot water" conditions.

Well, we never had heat or hot water all winter, so we couldn't use the house. We had ended up in an Istanbul home with our $5,000/month rent pre-paid and the accomplished architect and landlord Turgut Alton telling us it was not his problem. He did not reply to a single email, text message or phone message.

This luxury Turgut Alton home, marketed by Senol Tinaz of Private Gayrimenkul in Rumelihisari, Istanbul, did not have a working heating/air conditioning system or hot water, and there are no Turkish laws to protect the tenant from realtors and landlords.

Following a winter that reminded me of the cold, snowy scenes from the movie "Dr. Zhivago," ice started melting and water started leaking through the roof, soaking the entire three floors of the house. Six months later, the only way to use the bathroom was to keep up a permanent umbrella. Still no reply from Mr. Alton, the landlord and accomplished Turkish architect.

Fast forward six miserable months and the hot days of an Istanbul summer replaced the heating nightmare with an air conditioning one.

One of my live tweets documenting our one-year nightmare in Istanbul.

Now I happily moved back to Florida after having prepaid one year's rent to architect Turgut Alton and the Rumelihisari realtor Senol Tinaz. My advice to anyone who is about to hire a realtor in Turkey, please keep in mind that there are no consumer protection laws. Any Turkish landlord apparently knows this and they will keep your money with the help of realtors who have no basic business ethics. Turgut Alton never returned my security deposit. I learned now that he has no intention of doing so. And the realtor Senol Tinaz of Private Gayrimenkul happily listed this home for rent and for sale as soon as I moved out.

So if you want to hire a realtor in Istanbul to buy or rent a home from a man like Turgut Alton, please be careful.

More Stories By Fuat Kircaali

Fuat Kircaali is the founder and chairman of SYS-CON Media, Cloud Expo, Inc. and Ulitzer, Inc.

Kircaali came to the United States from Zurich University, Switzerland in 1984 while studying for his PhD, to design computer systems for SH-2G submarine hunter helicopters for the U.S. Navy. He later worked at IBM's IS&CG Headquarters as a market research analyst under Mike Armstrong's leadership, an IBM executive who later ran IBM Europe and AT&T; and Fuat was the Director of Information Systems for UWCC, reporting to CEO Steve Silk (later Hebrew National CEO), one of the top marketing geniuses of the past two decades.

Kircaali founded SYS-CON Media in 1994, a privately held tech media company with sales exceeding $100 million. SYS-CON Media was listed twice by Inc 500 and Deloitte and Touche as one of the fastest-growing companies in North America. Kircaali launched Ulitzer, Inc., a revolutionary "new media" start-up in mid 2009.

Fuat completed Bogazici University Business Administration program in 1982 with a Bachelor's Degree. He was one of 50 students accepted to the program out of over 1 million high school graduates that year.


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