SHUNNED: Dr Ernest lists out several types of properties that might not sell well due to its “taboo” status
Taboos you can’t ignore
Many people from the different communities in Malaysia, before they decide to buy a property, whether it is a house, condominium, apartment or shop, will consider many factors that may be considered to be “non-scientific” or even “superstitious”.
Within the Malaysian property context, factors like the property’s Feng Shui, its location at a “T” junction, its location below the road level, and the unit number (address) of the property are important enough for property buyers not to ignore.
These “non-scientific” factors are very real and you ignore them at your own peril when you want to sell the property later. You either will not be able to sell it or you will be forced to sell the property at a much reduced price.
How taboos affect property prices: Let us go on a journey to find out how social taboos affect property prices particularly in Malaysia.
The Chinese taboo on number 4: To many Chinese people, the number “4” is tabooed. It sounds like death in Mandarin and in many other Chinese dialects. Be careful to avoid buying a property with the number 4 as part of its address, especially when the property is located in an area where a majority of the residents are Chinese. When the time comes for you to sell your property, you may encounter difficulties finding a buyer or if a buyer is found, he may want to discount the price on account of the tabooed No: 4.
The international taboo on No.13: If you were to enter some office buildings in Kuala Lumpur, you will likely find “Level 13” and “13th Floor” missing in the lift buttons and on the Tenants Directory.
In place of “13” you will find either “11A” or “12A”. It looks like the number “13” is tabooed in some places. As with number 4, avoid buying a property with number 13 as part of its address. The taboo against number “13” is not as strong as the taboo against number 4.
All the same, when it comes time to sell your property, you may have difficulties finding a buyer or if a buyer is found, he may want to discount the price because of the tabooed number 13.
Property facing “T” junction: All the three major communities in Malaysia, the Malays, Chinese and Indians, have a dislike for properties facing a “T” junction.
They each have their own taboos and aversions for such properties. The Chinese believe that especially during the time of the hungry ghost festival when the gates of hell are opened and spirits enter the earthly realm and roam the streets, with your house facing the “T” junction, you and your family are at great risk of being ‘invaded’ by these “Hungry Ghosts”.
Property below road level: All the three major communities in Malaysia, the Malays, Chinese and Indians have a dislike for properties located below the road level. The Chinese believe that with your house located below road level, all the bad luck of residents in the entire neighbourhood that flow from their houses onto the road will eventually flow into your house. To the Chinese, this is unacceptable and they will at all costs avoid buying a property located below road level.
Property sloping downwards: The Chinese do not like to have a house built on land with a steep slope with the access road sloping down towards the frontage road. The Malay and Indian communities also dislike such houses.
They have their own taboos and aversions.
The Chinese believe that all his wealth, prosperity and luck will flow away down the sloping road to his neighbours below him.
Haunted properties: When you are looking to buy a property, the above taboos are easy to identify because they have physical features that you can look out for. When it comes to making sure that the property is not haunted, it is much harder. How do you know if a house is haunted? You will have to extensively investigate into the background and history of that property for the answer.
The seller will not tell you. The real estate agent will not tell you. What then should you do? My advice is “if you are in doubt about whether that property is haunted, just give it a pass and move to other similar properties”.
However, if you like that property very much and will not easily give it up, there are some steps to follow to get the information you want:
• Check how frequent the tenants/ occupants move in and move out of this property.
• At the time when you were introduced to this property by the agent, was it vacant and unoccupied?
• If it was vacant, find out how long the last tenant/occupant stayed before they moved out.
• Visit the property at night and observe from the outside if you can hear “funny noises”.
If, after all these investigations, you still have doubts, move on and give it a miss. However if you are a fervent believer in the power of your God to help you get rid of the “ghosts and spirits” there and your God can help you cleanse the property of these evil spirits, then by all means go ahead and negotiate for a “give-away” price as you may be the only buyer the seller has.
Properties near high-tension towers: Properties that are built on land beside high-tension electric power lines are also shunned by all the communities in Malaysia including Malays, Chinese, Indians, Eurasians and the indigenous people of Sabah and Sarawak. They shun such properties for health reasons and not due to cultural taboos.
Studies by scientists have shown that high tension electric power lines emit radioactive rays like gamma rays. It has also been shown by scientists that prolonged exposure to radioactive rays like gamma rays can increase the risk of cancer to those who live in houses near and beside high tension electric power lines.
When you buy a property from the secondary market, do be careful to make sure the property you are looking at is at least 500 meters from the nearest high-tension electric power lines in order to be absolutely sure that you are safe from exposure to gamma rays radiation.
If you are buying a property “offplan” from a developer, visit the development site and as best as you can, try to ascertain the location of the nearest high-tension electric power lines . If you are unable to find anything and you are still uneasy, engage the services of an electrical engineer to investigate. The electrical engineer knows how and from where to get the information. It is worth the professional fees you pay the electrical engineer.
If the electrical engineer reports that there is a possibility that hightension electric power lines may be built near the property you intend to purchase, however remote that may be, give it a miss and move on to other development projects. Your family’s health and safety should be above all other considerations.
Dr. Ernest Y Y Cheong holds a Doctor of Business Administration (DBA) and an MBA. He is also a Chartered Surveyor, Registered Valuer, Auctioneer, Arbitrator and Principal of Ernest Cheong PTL Chartered Surveyors. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.ernestcheong.com