4, 14, 24, 13: The Effects of Omitting Unlucky Floor Numbers

If you’ve lived in a condominium in Metro Vancouver, you’ve likely noticed a few missing floor numbers along the way – it turns out that Vancouverites can count, after all.

In Western cultures, the number 13 has been considered unlucky, and the number 4 is avoided in Chinese cultures for sounding similar to the word “death”. These missing floor numbers have been omitted over the years – floors and unit numbers containing a 13 or 4 (14, 24, 34, and so on) seen as undesirable by superstitious homebuyers were deleted by developers across the city.

However, in October 2015, new rules stipulated that developers must include all numbers and are no longer permitted to skip them for being “unlucky”. Another factor for reinstating them? In an emergency, the omission of numbers meant a higher chance of making a mistake. For firefighters, this increased the chances of going to the wrong floor as they made their way through a smoky building, and in turn, could cost lives.

Superstitious numbers aren’t a fad. Dating back to 1911, a word was coined for those who fear the number 13: triskaidekaphobia. Those who suffer from triskaidekaphobia avoid bad luck by keeping away from anything numbered or labelled thirteen.

In China, and places like Vancouver with large Chinese populations, 4’s are avoided for its association with the word “death”, and 8’s are considered lucky because they sound like “prosperity” in Chinese. In fact, a study shows that these superstitious numbers can actually raise or lower a home’s price based on a buyer’s superstitious beliefs.

So the question remains: will homes with the number 4 or 13 sell? We looked to real estate’s Bob Rennie for insight, and he put it somewhat bluntly: “People who are superstitious and don’t like 4 aren’t going to buy on those floors.” Bob, himself, is “very superstitious” and doesn’t like the number 4 either. “Every car I have has at least a 5 and a 4 in the licence plate,” he says. “Five means ‘no’ and 4 means ‘death’ or ‘die.’ Some people like 8 because it means prosperity. I’d rather have “no die” in any car I drive.”

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