Remote learning deals blow to real estate agents in Turkey's university town Eskişehir.

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Eskişehir, a central Turkish province, is a model university town for thousands of students, but nowadays it is devoid of its main inhabitants. Home to three universities, including one that was the first to offer distance learning in Turkey, the city saw an exodus of students who switched to remote learning amid the COVID-19 outbreak. With most opting to remain at home with their families in other cities, the real estate market is suffering from the absence of students renting accommodation.

Empty homes near campuses, which once hosted some 60,000 students, are a common sight. Landlords and realtors complain that the young tenants unilaterally terminated contracts and insisted on refunds, while students have refused to pay rent for properties they do not occupy.

The lack of students in the area has affected many businesses, especially hostels that heavily rely on this demographic. Gazi Çelik, who heads an association of real estate agents in the province, said rent prices started decreasing as landlords struggle to find tenants. “Currently, they dropped rents from TL 1,300 ($167) to TL 1,200 for an average flat. They still cannot find tenants, and we expect rent will drop further, even below TL 800. Of course, it is good news for tenants but will jeopardize the financial status of landlords. These are people who mostly purchased residences with loans and rely on rent to pay them back,” he told Anadolu Agency (AA).