With more than 1,000 Inman posts, Bernice Ross is a long-time contributor whose weekly column on real estate trends, luxury, marketing and other best practices publishes every Monday.
Are you superstitious? What about your clients? Having a knowledge of astrology, feng shui and numerology might not be your thing, but often it can be a boon to your business if you pay attention to whether these belief systems matter to your clients.
5 deal-killers and superstitions agents should be aware of
Early in my career, I was one of the listing agents for the 83 lots at the Summit above Beverly Hills. We had quite a few international buyers looking at the subdivision, many of them from China and Korea.
The sales staff was well aware that many Chinese buyers like to purchase properties with lots of eights in the address. While eight is considered to be good luck, four is considered to be unlucky because it sounds similar to 死 (sǐ), which means “death” in Mandarin. It was also common practice for our Chinese buyers to bring a feng shui master with them to help them identify which lots would be best.
1. When a little woo-woo went a long way
We once had a group of Hong Kong businessmen who visited the property. After they viewed the lots and returned to the sales office, they had a very spirited discussion in Mandarin. What caught my attention was that they kept adding numbers up on their calculators — my gut told me they were using numerology to make their decision.
When the offer came in, I first looked for a pattern that might have to do with the number eight. I couldn’t find that pattern, but because they made an offer on six lots, I tried that.
My hunch was correct. All the lots they offered on had addresses that added to the number six, the numbers in the prices all totaled to six, as did the closing date.
When I discussed it with the developers, they thought I was dead wrong. I advised them to make some minor alterations on the price and elsewhere in the offer so that everything added to six. The buyers accepted the counteroffer, and we closed on six lots for $1.5 million.
The way to determine this is to take the address or price and add each number until you reduce the number to a single digit.
$1,500,000 = 1 + 5 = 6
129 Elm Street would be 1 + 2 + 9 = 12; 1 + 2 = 3
12785 Washington Blvd. would be 1 + 2 + 7 + 8 + 5 = 23; 2 + 3 = 5
2. Rid the house of the ghostly energy
I once went on a “house clearing” with a client who was the founder of one today’s most prominent medical websites and a very strong Christian. Weird things were happening at night that were frightening him and his family.
They asked their priest to help them. When that didn’t work, he turned to a psychic who cleared out whatever was harassing their family. Part of the process included smudging the house (a Native American custom where you burn white sage and walk through each room allowing the smoke to “clean” each area.)
3. The evil spirit that killed the deal
Unlike the house cleaning that worked for that other client, I had another “spirit” who killed a million dollar deal for me. I was working with some very affluent clients from Thailand. We found a house in Santa Monica for $1.3 million that they wanted to purchase. Before writing the offer, however, they wanted their priest to look at the property.
The “priest” turned out be a Buddhist monk who spoke no English and was dressed only in a scanty orange robe and sandals. When my clients decided they wanted to stop for coffee I was at a loss about what to do with the priest — do I stay in the car, go in with my clients to buy coffee, do I bring him some bottled water, or do nothing? I decided to wait in the car, but the whole situation felt bizarre.
When we arrived at the property, the monk walked it completely and then stood across from one of the trees in the front yard. An animated discussion followed in Thai between my clients and the monk.
I learned later that the monk had advised them not to buy the property because there was an evil spirit in the tree in the front yard. My first question was how to get rid of the evil spirit. The monk had already advised my clients on that issue — it wasn’t possible.
4. Bury St. Joseph in the yard
Last week after a friend’s deal fell apart, she decided to bury a statue of St. Joseph in the yard. The theory is to bury the statue 1 foot underground and upside down.
This supposedly makes St. Joseph work harder to get the home sold. This was a particularly popular strategy in the L.A. luxury market during the major downturns.
5. Never buy electronics or sign contracts during Mercury retrograde
I have a lot of highly-educated, successful friends who take Mercury retrogrades very seriously. About three times per year, Mercury appears to back up in the sky. It’s a time of muddled communications, a bad time to enter into contracts, and the time where your electronics are most likely to go on the fritz.
How to deal with superstition or unfamiliar beliefs
The question is how do you cope with clients whose beliefs seem silly or that are diametrically opposed to your belief system? The steps I have found that work are:
- Even though you may think that your client’s belief is bizarre, keep your opinions to yourself.
- Ask about their beliefs, and learn from them. When you are curious and withhold judgment, you build a stronger connection with your clients.
- When you identify an unusual belief that your clients hold, make a point of searching for properties that will not conflict with what they believe, and if the monk kills the deal, so be it. Your role is to be of service.
By the way, aren’t you glad that we don’t have another Friday the 13th until September 2019? Just sayin’.
Bernice Ross, President and CEO of BrokerageUP (brokerageup.com) and RealEstateCoach.com, is a national speaker, author and trainer with over 1,000 published articles. Learn about her broker/manager training programs designed for women, by women, at BrokerageUp.com and her new agent sales training at RealEstateCoach.com/newagent.