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Palo Alto Weekly

Real Estate - January 25, 2013

Real Estate Matters

Deal killers: superstitions and core beliefs

by Nancy MacLeod

There are two types of deal killers in real estate: those that are correctable or avoidable and those that are core beliefs or superstitions and unalterable.

The buyer may not even consider making an offer to purchase a home if certain conditions are present. Many of these beliefs are held in multiple cultures so the groups are not identified by name in this article. As of late, Realtors are seeing more superstitions coming into play.

Understanding their clients' needs is extremely important. Realtors can do some extra work by reviewing homes to save time for their clients if they understand their issues and needs. There is no need to show a property with problems unless there is a creative solution. A few of these can be remedied with mirrors, crystals, screens and repositioning an entry door, but some are just not going to work for certain buyers.

Here are some of the superstitions and core beliefs that can impact a potential sale:

The shape of the lot: A lot that is shaped like the head of a tiger is undesirable in some groups and they will not even consider buying the property. On the other hand one shaped like a cow's head is good. These shapes are found primarily at the end of a cul-de-sac or a court. The tiger has a very narrow front and the back end is wide. The opposite is true of the cow. A square or rectangular lot is preferred.

Sunlight exposure: Many cultures have sunlight issues; they differ depending on the ethnic groups. Some will only accept a home that faces south/north with south being the entry to the home. Others want a south/west frontage or only an eastern entry. Thank goodness they do not all want the same exposure so many options are open for the seller.

The house is located on a T intersection: A house that sits on a street where another street is directly perpendicular to it will cause some buyers to cringe. The orientation of the perpendicular street brings in excessive energy towards the home that can disrupt good fortune from being able to settle inside the home.

House numbers: Some groups do not want a number 4 in their house numbers. The number 4 means death. Another group does not like the address numbers ending in a downward stroke. An address with the last number ending in the number 1, 4, 7 or 9 indicates that the house will bring bad luck to the occupants. The downward stroke when the number is written causes all good luck to decline. On the other hand some believe that a number 8 or 9 brings good luck and fortune.

The number of steps on the staircase or the location: On the first ascending step to the front door, the buyer chants "gold," second step, "silver," third step "debt." This chant is repeated until the last step is reached. If the last step lands on debt there is no deal. For some, a descending staircase that leads to the front door is a sure sign of future failing finances. Its presence indicates that all money entering the household will surely flow out due to the direct pathway of the stairs to the front door.

The back door can be seen as you enter the front door: If the back door is parallel with the front door when entering the home, some believe that all good fortune experienced while residing in that home will be short lived. Good fortune will go in the front door and quickly come out of the back door. Others believe the garden should not be seen from the front door for the same reason.

In California, we have multiple real-estate disclosures that have to be filled in by the seller. The buyer is given the disclosures to approve or disapprove the purchase. I instruct my sellers to disclose every negative issue they are aware of other than superstitions to protect them and the buyer.

My favorite answer was by one of my sellers whom I had assisted several times with his homes regarding buying and selling. On his last sale he marked the "yes" box that there was a death in the home within the past three years. When questioned about his answer he replied, "Our family cat died last year." Precious and thoughtful answer, would you agree?

It is fortunate that not all people have strong superstitions but it is helpful for the seller and the Realtor to have compassion and understanding regarding the feelings of those who have genuine beliefs that may affect the purchase of a home.

Nancy MacLeod has run an independent boutique real estate firm,, since 1999. She was named Palo Alto Realtor of the Year in 2011. She can be reached at


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