By Muhammed Ali Gurtas
ANKARA (AA) - The number of property sales in Turkey rose by 1.7 percent in January compared to last year, the country's statistical authority announced on Wednesday.
Last month, 97,019 houses were sold in Turkey -- 44,363 houses were sold for the first time while the rest were second-hand sales -- TurkStat reported.
Istanbul -- Turkey's most populated city and one of its top tourist draws -- boasted the largest share of house sales with 16.8 percent, or 16,336 houses, the institute said.
Official data showed that the capital Ankara and the Aegean province of Izmir followed Istanbul with 9,720 (10 percent) and 5,841 (6 percent) housing sales, respectively.
"House sales with a mortgage represented a 29.6-percent share of all house sales in Turkey," TurkStat said.
In 2017, 1.4 million residential properties were sold in Turkey, with a 5.1 percent annual hike compared to the previous year.
- Sales to foreigners
TurkStat data also revealed that property sales to foreigners rose by 25.7 percent on an annual basis in January, reaching 1,742 units.
Istanbul led with 545 sales to foreigners -- followed by Antalya, Bursa, Yalova and Trabzon.
"Iraqi citizens bought 272 houses in Turkey in January," the institute said.
Last year, foreigners purchased over 22,000 properties in Turkey. Iraqis led the way with 3,805 house purchases, followed by Saudi citizens (3,345), Kuwaitis (1,691), Russians (1,331), and Afghans (1,078).
TurkStat will release its next property sales report -- for February -- on Wednesday, March 21.