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7 Local Superstitions You Need to Know Before Buying a New Home

Find a home for sale you like, put in an offer, buy and move in, right? Well, here in Hawai‘i, our diverse traditions and beliefs can make it more complicated.


Which way is the house facing? Is it located near a cemetery? Did someone die in the home? What’s the address number? A lot of superstitions are rooted in our blend of Asian and Hawaiian cultures as well as—ahem—some first-hand experiences. 


If you’re new to the process, here are a few things to note:



Retired feng shui expert Alice Inoue says the number 3 is considered lucky, 8 is considered especially lucky and 9 is considered powerful, so people prefer these anywhere in the address. Lucky numbers that are aligned, like 88, are even better. On the flip side, while 13 is considered unlucky in Western culture, Asians tend to avoid the number 4, which sounds like the word for “death” in Japan and China.



If sellers know their home is reputed to have a history of paranormal activity, such as night marchers or menehune, they are obligated to disclose it. Of course, you could keep quiet, but who wants to live with that bachi?


Hawai‘i’s real estate laws don’t specifically state disclosure of the scene of a crime, death or paranormal activity, but such a condition could be interpreted as a “material fact,” which is “any fact, defect or condition, past or present, that would be expected to measurably affect the value to a reasonable person of the residential property being offered for sale.”


Sellers may exclude the fact the “property was the site of an act or occurrence that had no effect on the physical structure or the physical environment,” but real estate agents do encourage disclosing as much information as possible. The Hawai‘i Association of Realtors’ standard disclosure form even includes this Yes/No question for sellers to complete: “Are there any additional facts regarding the property or neighborhood (e.g., history of homicide, felony or suicide)?” 


Location, location, location.

Many people avoid buying homes next to, or across from, cemeteries, places where people died, or that were the site of other misfortunes. Inoue says it’s called “bad predecessor energy.”


But, if you’re worried about moving into an unlucky home, there are people willing to offer their services to counteract the bad juju.



The first thing many people do when they move into a new home or business is get the place blessed. Whether you bring in a priest from a Western or Asian church or a Hawaiian kahu, the gesture is symbolic of driving old spirits and energy out.


Good energy.

Help-U-Sell realtor and feng shui expert Sharissa Chun says adding “good luck plants” like a money tree, jade plant or mother’s tongue (the leaves look like flames, which are seen as good chi or energy) is believed to add luck and prosperity to the home—not to mention that the pop of green is a good interior design element for any room.


Chun adds that people like to place a bagua/feng shui mirror above their front door to repel negative chi, while hanging a chime to stimulate positive chi. 


When you first move in or out, she recommends burning incense or sage to cleanse the place of old energy. And, if you’re trying to sell your home and it’s stalling, it’s a Portuguese tradition to bury a statue of St. Joseph upside down in your yard (or in a plant if you’re in a condo) to stimulate the sale energy.


Finding a night marcher path.

If your home is built on or near a reputed night-marcher trail, Mysteries of Hawai‘i owner Lopaka Kapanui recommends you figure out the path, then plant a row of ti leaves to divert the trail around the house. Night marchers are said to usually travel from the mountain to the ocean, so use that as a guide to determine their route.


Kapanui adds that, if your home is built where menehune live, the best thing to do is leave out bananas (maybe a small bunch once a week) and you’ll have fewer instances of mischief.


Expert help.

Still need help? Kapanui recommends finding a qualified medium, psychic, priest or kahu. “If you do find someone and they want to charge you money, they’re not real,” he says. “The qualified ones aren’t supposed to charge a fee.” 


Even so, it’s good courtesy in Hawai‘i to give the person something for their trouble. At the end of the session, be ready with an envelope with an amount of cash you feel is appropriate and can afford— anywhere from $50 to $200.






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Honolulu Magazine January 2018
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