If you are trying to sell your house, you could be in luck if it has the number eight in the address -- it's worth an average of about $10,000 more.
It has to do with the Chinese superstition that eight is lucky because it is phonetically similar to the Chinese word for prosperity or wealth, said lead author Prof. Nicole Fortin.
Conversely, houses with the number four sold at a discount. Four is considered unlucky because it sounds like the Chinese word for death.
"The idea came when an undergrad student wanted to do his research paper on something measurable about Chinese culture," Fortin told The Province.
UBC honours economics student Jeff Huang, who immigrated to Canada from Taiwan in 2004, successfully pitched the idea to Prof. Fortin.
They studied 115,000 residential real-estate sales in Greater Vancouver during the years 2000 to 2005.
In neighbourhoods where the percentage of ethnic Chinese residents exceeded the regional average of 18 per cent, the study found that houses with addresses ending in the lucky number eight sold at a 2.5-per-cent premium, while those ending in the unlucky number four sold at a discount of 2.2 per cent.
That translates into a premium or discount of between $10,000 and $8,000, based on a $400,000 average price of a single-family house in Metro Vancouver in those years.
"That was the most surprising [aspect of the study]," said Fortin. "Many people who were involved in the real-estate market in Vancouver were aware of these beliefs."
The superstition also explains why many newer residential towers in Metro Vancouver have no fourth, 14th or 24th floors, said Fortin, who says she is not superstitious.
"We did look at the number 13 and found a similar kind of discount [of 2.2 per cent]," referring to a superstition with Western roots.
In Richmond, where about half of the city's population is of Chinese heritage, so many people have requested a change in their house number that the planning department has created a brochure on the matter.
"Personal preference address changes are discouraged," said Cynthia Lockery, a spokeswoman for the City of Richmond. "The main reason is safety."
Lockery explained that in an emergency, firefighters or paramedics need to find an address fast, and illogical numbering of houses could throw them off.