‘Death’ numbers slash home value
TETRAPHOBIA is not a word you hear every day, but it is a phenomenon which is having a bizarre effect on Aussie buildings and property prices.
If you take a close look at the floor numbers on certain high-rise towers or house numbers in certain suburbs you may notice the number "four" is mysteriously missing.
And, if you sell your home on certain dates or in a suburb with particular numbers, you could potentially boost your profits when selling to Asian buyers.
That's because, in the Chinese languages of Mandarin and Cantonese, the number four is gravely feared for superstitious reasons and the number eight is considered lucky.
Tetraphobia, or a phobia of fours, is much like the widespread fear of the number 13 in Western cultures - a phenomenon known as triskaidekaphobia. Try saying that after a few schooners.
Carrie Law, CEO and Director of Juwai.com, the leading Chinese international real estate website, told news.com.au this was because the number four ominously sounded like the word for death in those languages.
"Fourteen sounds like 'certain death' and 24 sounds like 'easy death,'" she said. "It's considered bad luck and with good reason.
"Imagine what it would feel like to come home at the end of the day and see something like "certain death" written on your front door."
That's why Chinese investors are chopping the number four out of Aussie properties and the fear is even pushing them to steer clear of suburbs with a four in the postcode.
"For many Chinese it's meaningless, but everyone is aware of it, and for some it's important.," said Ms Law. "For some people, it is very meaningful. But if it creates even a little bit of doubt in the buyer's mind, the developer is rewarded by removing it."
She added that in suburbs on the Gold Coast and on Sydney's North Shore, agents had officially changed the address of for-sale homes in order to increase their possible value.
"If you can bring in just one more serious buyer, that could be enough to boost a sales price by a few hundred thousand dollars," Ms Law said.
"Developers can manipulate their street addresses, unit numbers, floor numbers, and prices to appeal to this quirk. It's worth a small amount of effort to improve the marketability of a project with dozens or hundreds of units."
The fear - which is also common in Japan, Malaysia, and Korea - has even prompted one suburb in Toronto, Canada, to ban the number altogether.
And, if you're wondering how you can use these Eastern superstition to make a few dollars, Ms Law said you can tweak the numbers to certain lucky figures.
"We found that listings with a triple eight in the price receive about one-third more online views than listings with none," she said.
"For those views to turn into actual transactions, however, the property itself has to be appealing and the price still has to be realistic. Sometimes, a triple eight can seem like a gimmick that makes buyers suspicious.
"If 10 per cent of your potential buyers are of Asian background, then by not catering to this superstition you could be making it 10 per cent harder to sell those units."
According to Juwai.com research, buyers at end of 2017 postponed their purchase so they could buy in the more the auspicious year of 2018.
Ms Law said Chinese buyers are often more responsive when eights are worked into the asking or final price, the street address, the floor number, the apartment number, and even the viewing or settlement date.
However, just sticking an eight on your front door won't mean your home will be automatically worth a fortune.
In other words, you can't put lipstick on a pig.
"Numerology simply adds one more level of appeal to property, it doesn't suspend normal rational thought," said Ms Law.
Juwai research shows Chinese investment in Australian property has begun recovering from its 2017 decline.
By the second quarter of 2018, Chinese buyer inquiries had climbed 25.5 per cent higher than at their low point in the fourth quarter of 2017.
Chinese buyers purchased $24.5 billion of Australian real estate in 2017. That consists of $19.8 in residential and $4.6 in commercial acquisitions.
"Chinese investment is likely to continue recovering in the six to 12 months to come," added Ms Law.