Research suggests home prices with certain numbers may draw better response

Real estate agents have long chanted the mantra "location, location, location." But sometimes more mystical forces are called on to help close a deal. Witness the power of the lucky number.

Real estate agent Juliet Zucker had a client about 4? years ago who kept losing her bids for condominiums in Washington. These were the days of multiple offers and no contingencies. On the third try, Zucker attempted something unconventional: She wrote the offer with "18" as the last two numbers of the price.

In Jewish tradition, 18 is considered a lucky number because it symbolizes "chai," the Hebrew word for "life." Zucker is Jewish; her client happened to be Jewish. They decided to take a chance.

"We had no idea if this would be something that would provide any kind of signal" to the other agent, Zucker said. "I'm not going to say we were totally desperate. But we were looking for things that would make an offer stand out."

It worked. Her client beat the other offer on the condo and signed a contract for $384,118.

Determining the right price for a home is one the trickiest parts of any real estate transaction. And of course, complex factors such as neighborhood, the house's condition and the marketplace should drive that decision. But some research does indicate that the last three numbers can play a special role in determining the final sale price of a house. And many agents and their clients welcome anything that might bring good luck in today's market.

Lena and John Ferris made certain to put their five-bedroom Falls Church, Va., home on the market the day before April 1, not wanting anyone to think their house was a joke. They also buried a statue of St. Joseph, whom the Catholic Church has deemed the patron saint of workers. The tradition has become one of the most popular superstitions in real estate -- and the Ferrises said they have gotten three calls about the home, up from zero, since burying it. Both are Catholic, but Lena Ferris said the statue, a gift from a friend, was more blind hope than anything else. They had already dropped their price from $545,000 to $520,000.

"I was willing to bury anything people sent me," Lena said.

Margaret Rome, a real estate agent in Baltimore, has established her own lucky tradition. When she started selling houses about 20 years ago, she said, she was scooting around in a Porsche 944. She loved the car and decided to claim the number as her own. So on her very first listing, she ended the price in "944."

It sold within a week. Rome tried it again with her second listing, and it sold within two weeks. She did it again for her third listing, and it also got snapped up.

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