Friday the 13th Special: Real Estate Superstitions

By Camille Salama, Zillow Blog Contributor

You may avoid walking under ladders, have never crossed paths with a black cat and have a lucky pair of socks, but have your superstitions affected your real estate decisions?

In honor of Friday the 13th, the most popular superstition in the world, we're taking a look at some of the irrational fears that can make buyers or renters take drastic measures to avoid potential misfortune.

Friday the 13th

Let's start with this unpopular day. It's a relatively common phobia as an estimated 17 to 21 million people are affected by fear of Friday the 13th, causing roughly $800 to $900 million lost in business as people refrain from traveling or buying a new home.

What is your take? Would you sign a mortgage on Friday the 13th or move into a new house?

That Unlucky Number

Many people's fear of Friday the 13th stems from fear of the number 13 itself. Considered to be the number of an occult power, fear of the number 13 is a common phobia. Many buildings don't include floors numbered 13 and some streets and house numbers simply skip over the ominous digits.

There are many things that might sway a decision about where to live and house numbers just may be one of the many superstitions that paralyze home buyers. Despite an age of online property research, and mortgage calculators, the number 13 could loom heavy over a prospective buyer.

According to research analyzed in the book "No. 13: Unlucky/Lucky for Some," one in 10 people who lived at number 13 believed their house number brought them bad luck. Taking it even a step further, researchers conducted a survey in which they asked real estate agents whether people were resistant to buying houses numbered 13. The results showed a whopping 40 percent of agents believed there was considerable resistance that resulted in sellers having to lower their prices.

Feng Shui for Homeowners

Some homeowners turn to the Chinese practice of feng shui to ward away misfortune. A popular method of boosting feng shui is to decorate your home with statues and images of elephants.

There are many applications of the use of elephants in feng shui depending on the material of the elephant and its placement in the home. Some of the more common applications are:

  • Placing a statue of an elephant, or a pair of elephants, at the front door brings good luck, protection and strength to the household.
  • An elephant or a pair of elephants displayed in the bedroom promotes love and faithfulness between two people.

Saint Joseph, Patron Saint of Real Estate

Those trying to sell a home often feel in need of some divine intervention and a widespread superstition about good old St. Joseph might has to do with real estate. The Catholic saint has long been believed to help with home-related matters and according to some, burying a statue of St. Joseph in the front yard of a home for sale will spur a quick bid. With hundreds of testimonials swearing by the real estate powers of St. Joseph, the practice has caught on; you can even purchase a St. Joseph "home sales kit" online.

Here are some suggestions on how to properly bury your statue:

  • Dig a hole near your "For Sale" sign by the street approximately 3 inches deeper than the statue. If you have no yard, use a large plant pot.
  • Place the St. Joseph statue facing the street in the hole.
  • When covering the statue, prayers should be said. They are very often included in the packaging.
  • Once you have sold your home, remove the statue and place it in your new home

Are we missing any other real estate superstitions?

Homes Where 13 Could Prove Lucky
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Friday the 13th Special: Real Estate Superstitions

In today’s rough and tumble housing market, maybe it can’t hurt to be a little superstitious. It might be wise to avoid sidewalk cracks on the way to the mortgage lender, home sellers might want to kennel their black cats on open house day, and DIYers ought never to walk under ladders. But when it comes to these 13 homes, it might pay to set superstition aside. In honor of Friday the 13th, we tour a baker’s dozen of homes with 13 rooms of some type. Even if you’re the superstitious type, these homes might make that your lucky number. So grab onto a horseshoe, and see what chance has to offer in the following gallery.

Location: San Francisco
Price: $7.95 million
Beds/Baths: 13/14
Sq. Ft.: 20,000

This San Francisco mansion stretches a mind-numbing 20,000 square feet, giving it ample room to accommodate its 13 bedrooms. At $398, the price per square foot is markedly lower than it is for some of our other picks.

See the listing for more details

There are 30 total rooms in the mahogany-lined palace. Boasting jaw-dropping views of San Francisco Bay, the home's amenities include a "bonus room" and an elevator.  

See the listing for details.

Location: Santa Fe, N.M.
Price: $9.99 million
Beds/Baths: 13/15
Sq. Ft.: 20,687

Rancho Alegre commands 175 acres of New Mexico countryside. In addition to enough bedrooms to house an entire village, the home offers an infinity pool, guesthouse, various equestrian facilities with 12 total stables, and a barn. 

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Outside you've got jaw-dropping panoramic views of the rolling countryside and surrounding mountains. The interior sustains that splendor with custom finishes. It has goatskin fixtures, too. 

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Location: Devon, Pa.
Price: $2.995 million
Beds/Baths: 13/6
Sq. Ft.: 17,402

Only $2.995 million? "What happened to the big leagues?" you might be thinking. The answer is: "We're still in them." Supporting evidence: 17,000 square feet, 12 fireplaces, custom carvings and moldings, and Juliet balconies. 

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Did we mention the coffered ceilings and gargoyles -- like you're-in-a-straight-up-castle gargoyles? So why is it less than $3 million? We don't know, but it did take a price cut recently.

See more photos of the place

Location: Beverly Hills, Calif.
Price: $55 million
Beds/Baths: 8/13
Sq. Ft.: 27,163

Take your pick: There are 13 bathrooms at your disposal in this Chateau-style behemoth. It's one of the most expensive listings on the market. See its peers by viewing our gallery of ultra-expensive homes. The lavish estate offers a cabana, guesthouse, swimming pool and private tennis court, among many other amenities. 

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The home shows royal aspirations with a foyer that features marble floors and columns, an elegant chandelier, ornate skylight and winding double staircase.

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Location: Palm Beach, Fla.
Price: $38 million
Beds/Baths: 6/13
Sq. Ft.: 13,278

One of those Palm Beach mega-mansions. This 13,000-square-foot home is running for $38 million. Price per square foot? $2,862. Highlights of the estate include a private dock, open and covered balconies and expansive patio. 

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The living room shown here features soaring ceilings, a grand fireplace and stunning lake views. The decor isn't so bad either. 

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Location: Alpine, N.J.
Price: $34 million
Beds/Baths: 8/13
Sq. Ft.: N/A

Drop a cool $34 million, and you've got yourself an enormous colonial that's big enough to be a colony of its own in leafy Alpine, N.J. The property is located on a cul-de-sac. 

See more photos of this property

Pictured here is a bathroom that dwarfs some apartments. The bath area is flush (ahem) with lavish finishes, and graced with a chandelier and fresco. The throne is on the right. 

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Location: Orono, Minn. 
Price: $24 million
Beds/Baths: 7/13
Sq. Ft.: 32,461

There aren't many homes larger than this 32,461-square-foot residence. But if you want to see its competitors, click through our Monster-Size Houses gallery: The 13-acre (jinxed again!) estate dates back to 1918. 

The interior brims with old-world elegance and has an enormous basement stretching 9,164 square feet, where you could, potentially, hold all-out raves -- if you're one of those night-clubbing tycoons.

See the listing for more details.   

Location: Greenwich, Conn. 
Price: $18.75 million
Beds/Baths: 8/13
Sq. Ft.: 17,121

This English country manor, situated in notoriously cash-flush Geenwich, Conn.. really puts the hedge in hedge funder, the type of big shot more than likely to throw down for this mansion. The hedges on this property will not put a hedge funder in jail, unlike some others.  

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The home has undergone four years of restoration and features stunning interior details like stenciled-medallion floors, silk-covered ceilings and silver hardware. There are also staff quarters, a guesthouse and a giant pool. 

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Location: Cedar Grove, N.J. 
Price: $18 million
Beds/Baths: 8/13
Sq. Ft.: N/A

The listing labels this mansion a colonial, but with its columns and balconies, an especially upscale one. Located on a cul-de-sac, the home comes with a three-car garage and tennis court. Though there are only 8 bedrooms, we're still talking 13 bathrooms.

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The interior has five fireplaces and the great room shown here boasts lofted ceilings and enormous windows. 

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Location: Charlottesville, Va. 
Price: $16 million
Beds/Baths: 8/13
Sq. Ft.: 18,000

This brick-built Georgian colonial commands 100 acres of countryside. There are a whopping 11 fireplaces inside. 

See more photos of this colonial

In addition to this art gallery of a hall, the home also appears to have its very own church. To verify that, click below for more photos of the home.  

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Location: Irvine, Calif.
Price: $10,999,980
Beds/Baths: 7/13
Sq. Ft.: 14,257

Yeah, this home has all the bells and whistles of your average magnate's dream home, but it also has something that others may not -- a "mother-in-law apartment." That's one of the features described in the property's listing. We can only speculate as to what it is that makes the apartment mother-in-law appropriate, but perhaps it locks from the outside.

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The home also offers a "gentleman's lounge" (no mother-in-laws allowed?), ballroom, theater, wine cellars, elevator service, terraces, fire pit, massive pool and infinity spa.

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Location: Mitchell, Ga.
Price: $5.4 million
Beds/Baths: 10/13
Sq. Ft.: N/A

"To see this property is to NEVER WANT TO LEAVE," trumpets this home's listing. The property stretches across 700 acres, including a reserve with 150 deer. The residence has a four-car garage, gourmet kitchen, terrace and 50,000-gallon pool. But what really makes this place spectacular ...

... is, behold, the "trophy room," named for its assortment of animal heads. Deer seem particularly well-represented in this cathedral of taxidermy. They all shared a similar fate to one particularly unlucky buck in Utah. If the trophy room isn't enough to satisfy the hunter in you, there are also two hunters cabins. 

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Location: Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
Price: $19.9 million
Beds/Baths: 13/17
Sq. Ft.: 13,264

This Fort Lauderdale mega-mansion commands its own peninsula, presiding over a whopping 595 feet of waterfront. Listing photos of the magnificent lair show us that the garage fits at least four cars.  

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One of the 13 bedrooms, this suite offers stunning views of the uber-ritzy area. The crazy part is that there other properties nearby that make this one's price seem like chump change. 

See more photos of this listing.


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