Last week, a Chinese developer bought an office building in Sydney’s Central Business District for an auspicious price: A$88,888,888. Because the number 8 is considered lucky in Chinese culture (it’s pronounced “ba” in Chinese and is similar to the Chinese word “fa,” which means prosperous), this comes as no surprise to real estate insiders who frequently work with Asian buyers in locations around the world.
“Eight is definitely a very popular number,” said Gaby Rogers, associate director of sales at Colliers International in Sydney.
The number’s popularity figures prominently in real estate, both as a way that buyers can show that they really like a property when making an offer, but also in other ways, like in the street address, unit number or building floor count, she said
Jamie Mi, an international relationship executive at real estate agency Kay & Burton, who works with foreign buyers purchasing luxury property in Melbourne, Australia, said that the number 8 is typically considered lucky by people from southern Chinese cities like Hong Kong, Fuzhou and Guangzhou, as well as some buyers from Japan, Singapore and Malaysia.
When 8 is part of an address, it can be really appealing to these buyers, she said. One example of this is a building at 88 Alfred St. in Sydney, which agents at Colliers International sold in a few hours.
“People were scrambling to get in there,” Ms. Rogers said, noting that 80 percent of the buyers were Chinese. The negotiations played out with a lot of 8s in them, too, with one of the penthouses closing for A$6.38 million, after Ms. Rogers’ client said he “needed an 8 in the final price.”
A building with a floor number with an 8 might also appeal, Ms. Mi said, whether that’s the floor that someone lives on or the number of stories in a building. A search on the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat Skyscraper Center database reveals that developers from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing to Dubai are raising or have completed residential and mixed use structures that have 88 or 108 or even 128 floors—and, in some cases, a height in meters that ends in 8, too.
On the other end of that spectrum, 4, which is pronounced “si,” a word synonymous with death in Chinese culture, can have the opposite effect. Ms. Rogers said that she’s seen developers adjust their plans based on this superstition, as was the case in the Stamford Residences at 171 Gloucester St. in Sydney sold back in 2010. “That was the first time that I’d seen a developer pull out all of the fours, completely,” she said, noting that there was no floor 4, 14, 24 or any units with a 4 in them.
Ansel Kim, with L.A.-based real estate firm The Agency, said he’s had multiple deals fall through because of an unlucky number, in one case not because of the number itself, but because the digits in the unit number—553—added up to 13. That buyer was Korean, Mr. Kim said, and backed out of an all-cash deal once she made this realization.
There are other ways that 13, generally considered unlucky in the United States and a number of other places, is taken out of buildings or real estate decisions entirely. Many new buildings still skip the 13th floor, experts say, like the Baccarat Hotel & Residences in Midtown Manhattan, which has hotel rooms through the 12th floor, a mechanical floor on 13, and starts with apartments on 18. The 76-floor New York by Gehry residential building at 8 Spruce St. doesn’t have a 13th floor at all. City planners even sometimes opt to leave 13 out of street names, as is the case in Santa Monica, California, where there’s a 2nd through 26th Street, but no 13th Street, which is instead named Euclid.
While 8, 4 and 13 are most often the “lucky” and “unlucky” numbers that impact real estate, experts note that in some other cultures, different numbers can also carry a special meaning.
Courtesy of: Mansion Global and Anne Machalinski