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Friday the 13th has long sent chills down the spines of many, with its association with bad luck dating back at least to the 19th century. This year, it also falls during the spookiest month of the year: October.
As members of a profession that deals with the public, many real estate agents have found themselves navigating superstitious scenarios on Friday the 13th, encountering more tricks than treats while on the job.
Friday the 13th headaches agents have encountered
Camila Linkowski of TLC’s Say Yes to the Nest and of Platinum Real Estate Professionals in Las Vegas told Inman that the buyer of a property she was once representing was willing to shell out a substantial amount of cash to avoid closing the deal on Friday the 13th.
“The seller did not want to extend closing because that was our contract date,” Linkowski said. “And [the buyer] had to pay $2,000 out of pocket to close the following Monday because the seller was like, ‘I’m not going to let you extend.’
“You’d be surprised at how superstitious people are,” she added.
Diana Sutherlin of Compass, who operates on New Jersey’s Gold Coast, was similarly taken aback when a repeat client of hers got angry after the closing date on his home sale was delayed and landed on Friday the 13th.
“I called him and, immediately, he was passionately against it,” Sutherlin said. “He was adamant. And he was like, ‘If they force me to do this, I’ll walk away from the contract.’ His reaction was extremely strong. And I was taken aback by how passionately he felt about this.”
Even home showings, which seemingly have a lot less at stake, have been disrupted for Linkowski by falling on Friday the 13th.
“[My clients] were coming in from Colorado and I guess they didn’t realize the date, they just booked [a flight],” Linkowski said. “And when they were getting to the airport, they called me and said they were canceling the flight, they were not going, they would come back on Saturday, because it was Friday the 13th and the wife was hyperventilating that she was going to get on a flight on Friday the 13th. They went home, and I had to cancel everything and do it again for the next day.”
How agents smoothed it over
A big part of a real estate agent’s job is making sure things go as smoothly as possible for their clients during the homebuying and selling process. So when superstitions come to light, it’s just one more thing they have to learn how to bounce back from and handle with grace.
When Sutherlin’s seller got upset about his Friday the 13th closing, she took a beat before responding.
“I thought, ‘OK, take a deep breath,'” she said. “People have such different beliefs, and you have to absolutely respect those. We have to create solutions based on the people we’re working with and really hear them. They want to be heard, they want to be respected for what those beliefs are, whether yours are entirely different or not. I was surprised by how angry he got. But you know what? It’s like, well, then this is what he feels.”
From that point, she looked at the problem in a solution-driven way and was able to work with the other party’s attorneys to set a different closing date.
Sometimes clients become more superstitious during a home transaction than they otherwise would be because it is such a big event in their lives. They’re already so nervous about it going well that they take any possible extra measures to make sure it is successful, Vickey Barron at Compass in Manhattan said.
“The behaviors of buyers and sellers, and people in general, are fascinating to me, and many of them start from a fear-based place, meaning they have fear in making a big transaction, such as real estate, since it’s usually a big asset,” Barron said. “So they’re already a little squeamish and concerned or fearful. Many of them have analysis paralysis and then you fold in Friday the 13th and it’s kind of the nail in the coffin.
“People have their beliefs and fears when it comes to many different factors, so I’m just always respectful,” she added.
When it comes time to relay a change to the other party in the transaction, Barron said she just tries to be really direct and tell them the situation. “I just say it matter-of-fact,” she said.
More homeselling superstitions
Inman did not encounter any real estate agents who avoided doing business on Friday the 13th because of their own superstitions. However, some real estate agents have been known to follow superstitions when trying to sell homes year-round, like burying a statue of St. Joseph upside-down in the front yard, KMTV 3 News Now in Omaha reported. Joseph, the father of Jesus, is the patron saint of the home in Catholicism, and burying the statue upside-down is thought to help a home sell faster, based on the idea that the saint will work harder to free himself from the ground by selling the home.
Many people also hang a horseshoe in their doorway, which is thought to ward off negative energy because, in ancient times, iron was believed to be magical.
Some real estate agents avoid putting a “pending sale” sign in a home’s yard because they think it may jinx the sale, Kelly Moye of Compass in Boulder, Colorado, told KMTV 3 News Now.
On the contrary, instead of avoiding doing things or being more careful on Friday the 13th, Barron said she tries to do more things to take advantage of having less competition from those who are superstitious.
“I’d probably go out shopping on that day and try to do something because it’s like I have an advantage because other people are fearful,” she said.
Meanwhile, Mariana Castro with Compass in Kansas City said she just doesn’t have time for Friday the 13th fears right now.
“[I’m] too busy, but not rich enough to make time for superstitions,” she texted Inman.