Real Estate Weekly
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Superstitions and traditions that surround home buying and selling

In a real estate market like New York City’s, buyers and sellers need all the luck, positive energy, and blessings they can get.

Enter Judith Wendell – a Feng Shui expert and owner of Sacred Currents, a company that specializes in feng shui, space clearings, and creating vital and thriving environments.

Photo by Claire Boynton/ Flickr
Photo by Claire Boynton/ Flickr

Wendell started out with mostly small business owners and apartment dwellers, but she soon became popular among developers and commercial buildings.

In 2012, when the Baccarat Hotel & Residences was just beginning to be built on West 53rd Street, the developers, Starwood Capital, had her bless the site, which had formerly been a beloved public library and then became a subject of controversy, developers wanted to bring good chi and energy to the space.

“In many cultures, there is always a ritual for honoring the land that is being disrupted, or what has gone on there in the past,” Wendell told Broker’s Weekly. “It’s recognizing that we’re not just bulldozing – there’s a connection to the Earth.”

Judith Wendell
Judith Wendell

Recently, a developer in Long Island City sought Wendell’s services for a site his company was working on, fearing that there might have been an old cemetery in the area, possibly an original Dutch burial ground. Wendell performed a “clearing” ceremony on the site, which involves “dousing,” a way of seeking out energy.

“When there is an energy, I focus on that particular area, be it a home or a site, and try to drill down a bit what the disturbance is about, and even if I don’t know that, I’ll do more clearing there,” she said.

In addition to Starwood, Wendell has worked with the Howard Hughes Corporation on sites in Hawaii and in the South Seaport.

Feng Shui is the 5,000-year-old practice of balancing energy flow in a particular space – and for apartments and homes, that means placing objects in an arrangement that best promotes good energy flow through the space.

Kevin Kemble, an agent with Citi Habitats, got involved with Reiki through a friend, just before he got into the real estate business. He eventually achieved Reiki master status, and when he first started, he even did a clearing of the Citi Habitats office where he worked.

Kevin Kemble
Kevin Kemble

Now, he incorporates his expert Reiki knowledge within his work as a broker – pitching to clients what he can do for them as a Reiki master.

“Some people don’t believe it and couldn’t care less,” said Kemble. “Others say they feel the same way as me and they love it.”

A recent seller Kemble represented was a level one Reiki, which they instantly connected over.
The seller’s previous broker had been given 90 days to sell the apartment and had failed to do so. After Kemble took on the seller, and performed a space clearing, the apartment sold one week after being listed, at full asking price.

“Whenever you start to do these things, it’s always for the greatest good possible,” said Kemble. “No one knows what that is. Real estate is full of mystery, you never know when something is coming on the market or who’s going to buy it – sometimes the best thing if for something not to happen.”

Meris Blumstein, an agent with Corcoran since 1990, recently sold an apartment for $300,000 over the asking price that had recently been Feng Shui’d by an expert.

“When I walked into this home it was very obvious that it was calm, and you just felt good walking into it,” said Blumstein. “A lot of it (Feng Shui) is about the position of furniture, crystals, mirrors, and

Meris Blumstein
Meris Blumstein

basically plants that are positioned in certain ways to overcome hazards of the architecture of the space.”

After the expert visited the house and balanced the energy of the space, Blumstein had an open house for the apartment where 150 people attended.

“It was quite amazing,” she said. “I don’t have my home Feng Shui’d, but if we’re going to do it again, I’d definitely consider it. You can ‘t do anything wrong to help yourself, and if it helps, by all means.”

And it’s not just believers in Feng Shui that have strong feelings about the energy of a home – it’s many religions as well.

Over the years, Blumstein said she’s been told my several people that burying a statue of Saint Joseph in your backyard, upside down, and in a certain corner, will help the home sell.

A quick Google search brings up thousands of sites about burying a Saint Joseph statue – one can be purchased for only a few bucks on Amazon, a website selling Catholic supplies, and even Wal-mart. He’s even referred to as the “Patron Saint of Real Estate” by one website.

In many Jewish households, hanging a mezuzah in the front doorframe is thought to bring the inhabitants good health, happiness and prosperity.

Joanne Gamel
Joanne Gamel

Joanne Gamel, an agent with Citi Habitats, often gives a mezuzah as a closing gift to her Jewish clients.

“It’s a nice thing to do, they love it,” she said.

But the clientele Gamel finds has the most traditions when it comes to living spaces, are those from Asian countries.

Numerology and Feng Shui are very important to buyers and sellers alike, Gamel has found. While the number 8 is considered very good luck, the number 4 is considered very bad luck – and is associated with the word for death in Chinese culture.

“Often times with a Chinese client, if the purchase price is $500,000, they will offer $488,888,” said Gamel. “Asian listings many times have a lot of 8’s, it’s like gold to them.”

If an apartment unit is on the fourth floor of a building or has the number 4 in the listing, some clients refuse to look at it. In fact, in many apartment buildings in Asia, the number four is skipped altogether, in the same way the number 13 is avoided in some buildings in NYC.

“I’ve had a few clients burn sage in a space to get rid of bad spirits,” said Gamel. “So often in New York you don’t know what happened before in the apartment, there’s such a high turnover. That’s why I think so many people are into this kind of stuff.”

“To each their own,” she said. “If it gives the peace of mind, so be it. People can come from different cultures but they all just want a harmonious home.”

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