What’s Your Lucky House Number?

Lucky House NumbersThe influx of Chinese buyers in Canada’s major cities has given the housing market a boost, but created a controversy over street addresses. A University of British Columbia study says that in neighbourhoods with a high percentage of Chinese residents, houses with street numbers ending in four are sold at a 2.2 per cent discount and houses with street numbers ending in eight are sold at a 2.5 per cent premium in comparison to houses with street numbers ending with any other digits.

“We provide the first solid evidence that superstitious beliefs can have significant and sizable effects on house prices in a North American market with a large immigrant population,” say authors Nichole M. Fortin, Andrew J. Hill and Jeff Huang of the Department of Economics, UBC.

The fear of the number four, or tetraphobia, is because the pronunciation of the word for four is similar to the word for death in Mandarin, Cantonese and several Chinese dialects, say the authors. “On the other hand, the word for eight is phonetically similar to the word for prosperity or wealth.”

The study concludes that “with a mean nominal house price of about $400,000 over the sample period, we have found that in neighbourhoods where the percentage of ethnic Chinese residents is above 18 per cent, houses with street numbers ending with the ‘death’-ridden four are sold at a $8,000 discount and those ending with the ‘wealth’-laden eight are sold with a $10,000 premium in comparison to houses with street numbers ending in any other digit.”

The CBC reported that 135 people in Vancouver applied to have their street addresses changed last year, for a fee of $636. Similar requests have been documented in Edmonton and the Greater Toronto Area communities. In British Commonwealth countries, the north and west sides of streets generally have even numbers, while the south and west sides have odd numbers. Municipalities are reluctant to change numbers because of planning criteria and to avoid confusion for emergency services.

A survey in the U.K. by Onepoll found that one in four people would rather not live in a house numbered 13. Many office and condominium towers do not have a 13th floor, skipping from 12 to 14.

“In Las Vegas, where superstitious beliefs are rampant, many large casino hotels (such as MGM, Wynn and Palms Place) omit floor numbers 4, 14, 24, 34 and 40 to 49,” says the UBC study. However, the study authors say the number 13 is not considered unlucky in the Chinese tradition.

While eight is a good number for a homeowner in a Canadian city, it’s not so great to live in a house in the U.K. that has 88 in the street address. It’s the address that’s most likely to be burglarized, according to research by global insurance firm AXA Personal Lines. The top 10 unluckiest U.K. house numbers in 2011 are 88, 80, 68, 91, 96, 13, 73, 79, 77, 78, 83, 87 and 98, the company says.

Although “unlucky” 13 is in that top 10, a house with that address is only half as likely as 88 to be the target of a break-in, says AXA.

The company also says houses with purple doors are the “top targets” for thieves. On the positive side, those living at numbers 70 or 99 are most likely to win money on the lottery.

“We do monitor all sorts of statistics but at the moment have no plans to start weighting premiums according to the number on your door or its colour,” says James Barclay, home insurance underwriting partner for AXA Personal Lines. “We suggest that everyone, no matter what number they live at, takes the time to check they’re not creating their own bad luck through poor security maintenance around the home. Many claims we see are not so much bad luck as bad risk management by the homeowner.”

Milton Black, described as “Australia’s leading astrologer and psychic” on his website, has a calculation on the site where you can “see whether or not you are suited to your present address.” Using the calculation to get your address down to a single digit, you can then look up your number and see how it relates to your house.

This writer’s house turned out to be a seven, which means it “usually has a history of skeletons in the cupboard, haunting, apparitions or some such mystery and rumour about the family that live, or have lived there in the past. Sometimes this house number can be haunted or strange events happen at this address.”

Yikes! I haven’t seen any ghosts in the house yet, but maybe that’s because its street number is 808.

Written by Jim Adair