We contributed over USD 50m to the Turkish economy: Kanver


More than 20 Turkish building materials companies, which entered the U.S. with the occasion of Cagri Kanver, contributed USD 50m to the Turkish economy through exports alone in 2022. Kanver is an architect and real estate developer, partner of the U.S.-based Watermark Investments, and U.S. representative of the Association of Real Estate Investors (GYODER). “We’ve brought companies and paved the way for them to do business in real estate projects in the U.S.,” he told TR MONITOR during his visit in Istanbul which was planned to supply building materials for the ongoing real estate projects and attract new investors for the upcoming projects in the U.S.

“The quality of the building materials manufactured in Turkey is better than in the world. The industry also learned about packaging and branding. Turkish building materials manufacturers and other producers carry out successful work abroad including the U.S. by benefitting from the FX rate difference,” he said.

Kanver is a deal maker, investor in various real estate projects, and an influential figure in the Turkish and U.S. real estate circles. He received the ‘Real Estate Investor of the Year’ title at the Real Estate and Development (RED) Awards in 2022 which is considered ‘The Academy Awards’ of the industry. He works to contribute to Turkish exports and Turkish brands in the U.S., where he has been living since 2009. “1.48 million houses were sold in Turkey in 2022. Turkey tops in Europe with the highest number of house sales followed by the UK with around 1.2 million. Turkey also ranks second in the OECD (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development) after the U.S.” With his own words, Kanver gathers the top country in Europe with the top country in the world and marriages them in the context of house sales, undertaking and dwelling production. “We try to make Turkish companies a strong player in the arena, where they can rapidly globalize with the opportunities there,” Kanver added.

To him, real estate is a cycle, which always starts, continues, and ends with an architect, while developers, financiers, managers, constructors, and building managers join this cycle and they will remain in the cycle or leave it after their job is completed. “My job is to gather them and ensure their work in a more operational way,” Kanver noted. 

Numerous Turkish companies have decided to grow their businesses in the U.S. as of 2016 as the country is considered a ‘safe harbor’ that attracted ‘good brains’ including architects from Turkey, he said. “I know the expectations in the U.S. and know how the companies, which head towards the U.S. from Turkey, can proceed. Although Turks don’t have that much money like Arabs for instance, they have good business competence. That’s why I think Turkish companies and architects will be more successful in the U.S. and I work for this.”

Turkish real estate developers will have trouble in doing business in the U.S. due to the system, according to Kanver. Because the U.S. system has a different structure and rules. That’s why there are many Turkish developers that can’t enter the U.S. market. “We bring them as an investor. Either they position in our office, or they carry out business in the projects where we envisaged for them,” Kanver noted. 


Cagri Kanver also helps companies coming from Turkey to the U.S. and guides them with his GYODER U.S. Representative position. He informs them about the U.S. and makes them a part of the business in some cases. “We’ve mentioned over the past two years through advertisements, promotions, and speeches at the panels that we try to help them in the best manner and guide them towards all fields of the U.S. real estate industry,” he said.

As a real estate developer and GYODER U.S. Representative, Kanver’s target for this year is to carry out more real estate projects and bring more Turkish companies, which focus on the real estate industry and operate in the services sector, to the U.S. He stated that the Turkish government provides good incentives to the companies in this field, and therefore it encourages them. “But sometimes some firms attempt to do business by themselves. They send their employees to the U.S. and try to carry out business with insufficient contacts,” he said adding that such businesses can be conducted in a better and more efficient way with people in the U.S. “No one’s money will be wasted. Turkish construction and real estate companies accomplish good work when the opportunity is given to them.


Touching on the U.S. housing statistics, Kanver stated that house sales hit an all-time high of around 7 million in 2021 after they had steadily increased as of 2011. However, the market, which has started to contract, is expected to shrink by 15% to 5.8 million units in 2022 and to fall to 5.1 million for 2023. “We can forecast the continuation of the downward trend from the number of houses, of which construction started by people. The figure dropped by 21.8% from 1.76 million to 1.38 million in December 2022, compared to the same month of 2021,” Kanver said stressing that all these indicators show that the demand still continues in the U.S. compared to Europe where house sales are expected to fall by over 20%, or China where the figure is estimated to drop by nearly 27% in 2022, year-over-year. “As the demand still continues in the U.S., there are serious opportunities for the Turkish real estate developers, especially in terms of dwelling production for the middle-income group.”

Kanver also noted that he is only interested in New York and Miami in terms of real estate projects. To him, these markets are very important as they create ‘volume’. “We are talking about a country with a population of 400 million. The U.S. is also among the countries with the highest consumption. A country where is easy to enter but difficult to stay is on the carpet,” he added. To do so, connection and relationship are obviously important. “I think that if companies have connections and relations and patience, the U.S. is an attractive market compared to Europe, which is considered as a contracted economy. There is no recession or contraction in the U.S. economy and the real estate projects continue in the country,” he noted.

Regarding his latest condominium project in Brooklyn consisting of 100 apartments that can be bought only by real persons, Kanver told that their marketing was strong and 96 of these apartments were sold in four months. “This has paved the way for us to head toward a new project. We’ve purchased the block close to this completed project and started a new project there,” Kanver noted. 

Another reason why Kanver has focused on New York and Miami is that they are brand cities. “There are cities where people want to invest in and add on to their capital further. New York is one of them. Miami has become a brand city over the past five years, especially after it took advantage of the pandemic in the last two years,” Kanver said, emphasizing that people, who came from different cities of the U.S., have started to reside, and work in the center of Miami. “This has created a supply problem in the real estate industry in Miami. That’s why the real estate demand has a big potential in the city,” he added. He also noted that there has been a high real estate inflow by Turkish citizens to Miami, Florida, and to the less expensive regions in the U.S. 


Touching on the house sales in Turkey that dropped by 0.4% to 1.48 million in 2022 on annual basis, according to the Turkish Statistical Institute (TurkStat), Kanver stated that the decline in Turkey was less than the drop in the developed countries despite a challenging year. “Although we have made inroads into urbanization over the past two decades, the time will show if we can catch the desired level,” Kanver said, stressing that Istanbul should be a brand city where the real estate, economy, living conditions, and quality of life coexist. “Apart from New York and Miami, there are also brand cities such as London, Singapore, and Hong Kong. Dubai, which wasn’t a brand city 20 years ago, has become one of them. Abu Dhabi follows it. Qatar and Saudi Arabia aim to transform themselves into the brand city-country,” Kanver added. 

To him, all these cities and countries have two common grounds: A strong economy and foreign visits. “Istanbul also attracts many visitors. But it hasn’t been branded yet. House sales to foreigners have quite increased. But what about the supply? The supply should have the quality and be met,” Kanver said, stressing that Istanbul is the city of earthquakes, and the sectoral work should be done in this context. 

Many real estate projects are focused on the upper segment in terms of luxury with more expensive square meter prices across the world, according to Kanver. He stated that Turkey’s new social housing projects proceed well in Turkey, and they can enable low- and middle-income groups to become homeowners. “Such projects are too few in New York, for instance. The brand cities can’t solve this problem, and this is their handicap,” he noted.

To bring the former Mayor of New York City this month

Cagri Kanver, Architect and Real Estate Developer, Partner of Watermark Investments, and U.S. Representative of the Association of Real Estate Investors (GYODER), plans to bring Rudy Giuliani, who served as the 107th Mayor of New York City from 1994 to 2001, to Turkey this month. Giuliani, who is also one of the most popular and successful mayors of New York City, is expected to hold several talks in Turkey. “The changes brought by Giuliani made the province to become a brand city. We have good relations with him. He loves Turkey and knows the good relations between the Turkish and American societies,” Kanver said, stressing that Rudy Giuliani is also one of the former attorneys of former U.S. President Donald Trump. “It’s important for us to carry out lobbying activities in many fields so that such influential figures can back Turkey and the Turkish society living in the U.S.,” he added. 

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