Although feng shui is more than 3,000 years old, some Westerners are still mystified by the practice, which aims to optimize a space’s natural energy, known as chi.

Feng shui hinges on principles found in physics, philosophy, astronomy, astrology and Taoism, a Chinese religion and philosophy. Feng shui practitioners use colors, materials and specific layouts to create balance and attract positive energy and outcomes.

Georg Chmiel

“It’s an art and a science at the same time,” Juwai Executive Chairman Georg Chmiel said. “The key is harmonizing individuals with their surrounding environment. It’s about constructing and optimizing residences as well as businesses for prosperity, happiness and abundance.”

Chmiel says the level of feng shui knowledge real estate agents need ultimately depends on “how deep they want to go.” Agents can consult a feng shui master, but most agents only need to know a handful of basic principles:

  • Furniture should be arranged so the homeowner doesn’t sit with their back to the door.
  • Single-story homes are preferred so the flow of energy isn’t disrupted.
  • Bathrooms and toilets should be hidden from view to protect the rest of the home from the “dirty chi” a bathroom generates.
  • Doors, especially bedroom doors, shouldn’t directly face each other to avoid conflicting energies.

Although feng shui’s principles may seem confusing at first, Chmiel says they make common sense once you’ve begun to implement them in a listing.

“Often some of our design principles in the Western world apply elements of feng shui,” he noted. “When you see these principles applied, they all make a bit of sense.”

“They really only help in making people feel better,” he added. “You can say, ‘it just looks good’ or you can see it on a more spiritual level. It’s really up to the individual.”

Chmiel says a home’s chi is especially important for Chinese buyers and that they’re willing to pay more for a home with good chi.

“You can definitely improve the value and the attractiveness of a property by applying feng shui principles,” he said. “You should take a healthy adoption of those principles without going overboard to make it more attractive for a Chinese market.”

Chmiel points to a $23 million Trump Tower condo and Nicole Kidman’s $3 million super-yacht as examples of properties with good chi.

“There is no change of floor levels, for example, up to a loft or down to a sunken living room,” he explained in a written statement. “Another positive is that, from the entrance, you cannot see the toilets, bathrooms, kitchen, or bedrooms.”

“In feng shui terms, that means there is no dirty water Qi (or energy) from the toilet entering the kitchen,” he added.

When it comes to Nicole Kidman’s luxury Hokulani yacht, Chmiel says it has good chi, especially because all toilets, bathrooms, bedrooms and the kitchen are hidden from view.

The Hokulani yacht layout. The third graphic shows where the cabin doors face each other.

However, he does offer one improvement when it comes to the positioning of the cabin doors: “The doors to the cabins directly face each other across a narrow hallway. Our feng shui report suggests the new owners either change the location of these doors or add door curtains to avoid chi interference between the cabins.”

Chmiel says agents don’t need to be intimidated by feng shui, while pointing to a tool Juwai released last month that evaluates the Chi of the site’s more than 3.1 million listings.

Using’s intelligent floor plan design tool, Juwai offers buyers a “Prosperous Home Report” that highlights a home’s good feng shui and offers suggestions on what needs to be improved.

“Feng shui is an endlessly deep and fascinating science, but as a real estate agent, you don’t have to become a feng shui master yourself,” he said.

Email Marian McPherson.

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