August 10 marked the start of Ghost Month, a Chinese and Taiwanese celebration based in superstition around wandering souls. There’s a belief that for one month out of the year, deceased souls can come out and visit the living. Because of this belief, it’s also considered bad luck to buy a house during Ghost Month in Taiwan, although the effect has lessened as the belief in superstition has diminished with younger generations. Couple Ghost Month with a home that’s seen either a murder or a suicide (also known as a “Murder House”), and you’ve got a home that traditionally has been unsellable in Taiwan.
That is until the younger generation started reaching buying age. 30-somethings in Taipei seem to have much less concern for superstition and Feng Shui. A murder house can generate a savings of up to 50% off current home prices, especially during a slow season like Ghost Month. A recent survey by Chinatrust Real Estate Co. found only 25.6 percent of home buyers said they would stick to the taboo during the month, when spirits are believed to return to the human world to feast.
We’ve already talked on 8Asians about how superstition plays heavily in San Francisco Bay Area real estate sales, especially around Feng Shui. And it’s been no different for my family. We own a home that we shared with my mom, who passed away peacefully from cancer in the house. We tried selling our home, unsuccessfully for the past 6 months, even though my mother was neither murdered nor committed suicide. Many agents told my realtor that their client was Asian and was passing on purchasing our home just because of the death in the house (even though it wasn’t technically a “murder house”, there was too much misunderstanding about the superstition around murder houses and deaths in a home). If Taiwan can start to outgrow superstitions, may be it’s even possible the Bay Area will as well. But it just won’t be in time for our family.