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Feng Shui for Real Estate Agents

With the current influx of Chinese investors buying Australian properties, some real estate agents will have been disappointed to learn that the only reason keeping them from signing the contract was the feng shui of the property. Esther Yong explains how this can be avoided.

It is true that some Chinese, especially those from Hong Kong and the southern part of China, practise and believe strongly in feng shui – to the extent that feng shui masters are sometimes flown in from overseas to attend open inspections! We have seen a feng shui master have the final say on a deal
even though the buyers really loved the property. They may end up in homes which are inconvenient or unsuitable, but they bought the place anyway all in the name of feng shui.

As bizarre as it might sound, the good news is that the majority of Chinese today practise feng shui at a very basic and simple level. As long as the basic criteria are met, most of the time they care more about the practicalities like price, location, design and so on, like any other buyer.

We are far from being feng shui experts and we will not try to be. However, we are able to share some basic strategies of how to handle common issues when it comes to dealing with feng shui-driven clients, and how to turn those issues to your advantage when you market
the property.

If your property address has number 8 or 9 on it, congratulations! You’re off to a good start. The pronunciation of the word for number 8 in Chinese is ‘ba’ and sounds like the word for prosperity, which is pronounced ‘fa’. This number is so auspicious that some Chinese will pay a premium for it. We recommend agents make a big selling point out of the number when you are marketing the property. Make Number 8 part of your tag-line; even better if you can paint a huge 8 on the front entrance! Don’t believe me? Whenever you are on the road, take note of car number plates like 1688, 8888, and check out the ethnicity of the driver.

Number 9 is a homophone of ‘everlasting’ and is pronounced ‘jiu’. If your property address has number 9 on it, a good marketing strategy might be to target young newly-wed Chinese buying their first home together! On the flip side, if your property address consists of numbers 4, 14 or 44, some hard work needs to be done.

Number 4 is the homophone of ‘death’, pronounced ‘si’. Chinese will often make every effort to avoid anything to do with it. However, we have seen buyers who love a property so much that they are willing to make some sacrifices. To remedy the situation, on their main entrance where they put the number 4, it will be followed by the Chinese characters ‘si ru yi ‘(事如意).

Reading the number 4 and then the three characters together gives the pronunciation ‘si si ru yi’ (事事如意) which means ‘prosperity in everything’. That would counter the bad luck, as some would view it, of the number. Some homeowners pretty much hang the 4 upside down so it does not look like a 4 – as long as the postman recognises it!

If your property has a number 4 on it, don’t panic. Tone down on the address, and if buyers pick up on it share these ideas with them. If the property is attractive enough, they might actually use your ideas!

Another common belief in feng shui is that if the front door is aligned directly across from the back door, chi or energy will pass quickly through the house, meaning the house is not good at preserving wealth.

This issue is an easy fix (and one to take note of during open for inspection times). Put up a screen or reposition your furniture to create a redirection of flow. Investigate the possibilities with the buyer; for example, putting a round table between the doors so the chi spins around and gets retained in the living area where there is a huge ornament to trap the good luck, and so on.

You will be surprised at how a discussion like this will build a strong rapport between you and the buyer. They will appreciate your efforts, too, in trying to understand their culture.

Like any other culture, the main entrance is the face of the house and it is important that it is presentable. The Chinese always love a grand entrance. Huge entrance doors with plants and flowers leading to them always score. However, one key thing that usually turns Chinese away despite the grandeur is the direct alignment of the main entrance with sharp objects like a big tree, streetlamp or telephone pole.

They call this ‘sha chi’ or negative energy; it reduces the overall prosperity of the property, making it undesirable to live in.

Luckily, like any negative energy, there will always be something to counteract it, and in this case the most common remedy is to place a mirror over the door, which will reflect the negative energy away from the sharp objects.

To make this more interesting, an uncle of mine who is an extensive practitioner of feng shui once engaged an architect to design his main entrance in such a way. Reflective mirrors were placed at an angle to reflect the sharp objects opposite, but tilting away from the river bend which was meant to bring in his wealth. The design concept of the facade was largely feng shui-driven, albeit very beautifully done. When he listed the property on the market, a non-Chinese buyer actually fell in love with it because of the facade and paid a premium for it. Now, tell me if this is not good feng shui – or good design!

Feng shui is an ongoing contest, as different schools of thoughts have different practices. However, the key point is to understand that rather than seeing it as something that might jeopardise your sale, you can find ways to work it to your advantage. Remember, for every negative chi there will always be a positive chi to counter it.

And this is true whether or not you believe it. As Donald Trump said, “I don’t believe in feng shui, but I use it because it makes me money”.