NI holiday home buyers 'lose £2m' in Turkey deals

By Claire Savage
BBC News

Image caption,
Turkey has been a popular choice for those buying second homes in the sun

A group of about 30 people from Northern Ireland believe they have lost more than £2m on buying holiday homes in Turkey.

They have each spent tens of thousands of pounds on the properties, some of which have never been fully built.

Most of them were introduced to the Turkish developers by estate agents in County Londonderry.

Although the group paid for the properties most did not own the land their holiday homes were built on.

For this they needed a TAPU - a form of deeds to their property.

This entitles the person to the land their property is built on.


Without it, whether or not they paid for the bricks and mortar of their holiday home, the land is not theirs, so neither is the property.

Most of the group had their homes built or semi-built by the developers Bar-fa in Turkey.

They either directly gave their money to Bar-fa or to Maghera/Magherafelt-based estate agent McCoy and McMeel, or to Kevin Tohill, who acted as an independent agent for Bar-fa and marketed their properties through McCoy and McMeel.

There is no suggestion the agents took anything other than normal estate agencies fees, or that they did not act with the utmost propriety.

McCoy and McMeel said: "We are aware that difficulties arose given the global economic downturn but we have continuously made contact with Bar-fa construction to assure (our clients), that what our customers arranged to purchase can be delivered to them.

"Although these matters are well grounded in the jurisdiction of Turkey, we have endeavoured to liaise on customers' behalf to reach a satisfactory conclusion and progress is being made to this end."

In a statement, Mr Tohill said: "I do wish to state that the majority of of my sole independent introductions to Bar-fa construction do have their their built property and deeds and only a few have yet to be obtained.

"As soon as I, and McCoy and McMeel Overseas Property Limited became aware that there was an issue with the completion of properties and/or obtaining deeds, we immediately suspended further introductions to Bar-fa."

Eddie Atkinson from Randalstown, who thinks he may have lost £65,000 to Bar-fa, has been in Turkey to try and get his money back from the developers: "I have never had any satisfaction on any phone call, or any correspondence whatsoever.

'Move on'

"I have just been given empty promises of when the property will be ready - there's been no talk of reimbursement of cash at the moment, really, I'd just like to shake it all and get the money and move on."

"There's a lot of people who are embarrassed to speak about it because they've been made to look like fools," he added.

"The way I look at it is we're not the ones really who should be embarrassed about it, we're the ones who have lost money."

James Toal from Toome paid out more than £80,000 to Kevin Tohill.

He said those who have lost money can pursue a case in Turkey, but it will be expensive.

"It is going to cost thousands of pounds which I am sure people don't want to hand over again," he said.