Wednesday, September 7, 2011

The Unluckiest Number

I recently received a call from my clients who are looking to buy a home. They found the perfect home at an open house and wanted to put in an offer.  I said I would be happy to write up the offer, but wanted to see the home again with them.  They were very excited about the layout, location, etc.  Mr. Buyer asked if I would get any information about the house for them and pass it on when we met the following night.  I called the listing agent and asked a number of questions, among them, "why hasn't this home sold in 100 days if it's so nice?"  Her answer surprised me.  She said that the negative feedback she heard more than anything was regarding the house number.  I asked why that was and she said, "It's 1414"  to which I replied,  "and that's a problem?"  She said it wasn't to her, but in the Asian culture, the number 14 is considered the unluckiest number.  Evidently, in Mandarin the number 14, when pronounced sounds like "want to die."  In Cantonese, it sounds like "certainly die."  Either way, the superstition carries a lot of weight in the Pacific Northwest.  The number 4 is also considered unlucky for similar is equated with the word death.  For that reason, Nokia cell phones have no cell phone series beginning with a 4, buildings in East Asia often do not have a 4th floor (this is similar to the Western world's phobia of the number 13).  In Hong Kong, some high rise buildings avoid any numbers with a 4 in them (ie, 4, 14, 24, 34, all the 40s, etc).  There is even an official name for this aversion or fear of the number 4: tetraphobia. 

In the end, my clients opted not to buy this beautiful home.  They did not have a problem with the home or the address, but feared when they wanted to move in a few years, they might have a problem with resale. 

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