Door numbers, divorce houses and treating sealed bids like your lottery numbers – here are London's most common property superstitions

Melissa York
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Would you buy a flat on Friday 13th? What if the door number was 13 or it was on the 13th floor of a building?

It may go largely unnoticed, but superstition plays a bigger role in the property industry than you might think. “We have a surprising number of buying clients who won’t exchange or complete a property purchase on Friday 13th,” says Jo Eccles, managing director at SP Property Group. “We also once had a client who was so superstitious she wouldn’t even view a property with certain door numbers.”

In honour of Friday 13th, we spoke to a number of professionals about people’s beliefs when it came to buying property and found a variety of ways bad luck could get in the way of a property transaction. In fact, the number 13 is so unlucky for some that developers sometimes miss out the 13th floor in buildings altogether.

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Door numbers are a minefield. While British buyers might change them to 12A to avoid the dreaded 13, agents are also expected to be sensitive to the superstitions of international buyers. The number 4 is often thought to be unlucky in East Asian nations – there’s even a name for it, tetraphobia – as it sounds similar or identical to the word for death in many variations of Chinese, as well as Sino-Japanese, Korean and Vietnamese.

On the flipside, the number 8 is close to the word for prosperity and can work in agents’ favour. Becky Fatemi, the director of Rokstone estate agency in London, says she recently sold a home to a Chinese buyer in Elystan Place, Chelsea, that was on the market for £888,888.

We also once had a client who was so superstitious she wouldn’t even view a property with certain door numbers

When a property goes to sealed bids, Fatemi also encourages her clients to pick odd numbers “kind of like your best lottery numbers, and it seems to work because, oddly, I’ve never lost one in all the time I’ve been doing this.”

The layout and the position of a property can also play a big role. “Chinese buyers much prefer waterside properties,” says Richard Barber, director of residential agency JLL, “as this indicates positive feng shui and creates a feeling of harmony and nourishment within the property.”

The most sinister superstitions by far are the ones concerning misfortunes that have already happened in a property. Saul Empson, at buying agency Haringtons believes “there are very definitely ‘divorce’ houses, that serially sell to couples, who then end up going their separate ways.”

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Fatemi says buyers can certainly sense when misfortunes have befallen a property, although, as a UK estate agent, she isn’t legally obliged to disclose what they are. “In America, you have to declare if something has happened at a property, so we get a lot more inquiries from American buyers like, ‘have there been any deaths here?’ It’s something they’re accustomed to asking.”

So there you have it; to sell your house to the superstitious, you just need to change your door number, get an agent to value it at £888,888, adhere to feng shui and never tell them about your divorce.

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