What I'm Seeing Now

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My Funniest Inspection... Well For Me, NOT The Realtor

This goes back to 1989 or 1990 or so.  I was finishing up an inspection on a very nice house.  The inspection went very well.  As we were walking out of the front door, my client, an elderly and exceptionally polite Asian gentleman, asked me if I had a compass handy.  "Sure!"  As I am always somehow Boy Scout connected I am prepared!  I actually have two.  So I dug one out of my tool kit.

"What way house point?"

"Northeast."

"Oh no!  Cannot buy house!  Cannot buy house!"

The realtor's jaw dropped!  I did not understand either.

"Bad Feng Shui!  The house, bad Feng Shui!"

I had never before heard of Feng Shui!  I had heard of, and often enjoyed, Chow Fun, but not this other thing!

Neither had the realtor...  She stood right in front of him, looked directly into his eyes, and politely asked what in the world he was talking about.  He had a hard time explaining in English.  It went something like:

"This much bad luck!  Very, very much bad luck!"  He was pointing toward the way the house was facing.  "It small.  It not strong."

He was making no sense.  Neither of us understood.  And should we have?  She shot me a wicked glance that said, "Look what you've done!"  Gee, all I did was answer a question.  How could I know it all meant the house pointed away from Marriage and Romantic Happiness, had a vanilla color and was Small Earth?  My brother's name is Ken -- doesn't that count for something?

I now understand that Feng Shui has a fascination to some people.  It is basically folkloric and mythical.  But there are those who follow that sort of thing.  I know interior designers who follow it in case their clients have such inclination.  Certain "bad" things can be counteracted by the placement of plants and mirrors and and furniture and so forth.  But it is complicated and doesn't assure a good outcome.  Even the direction the head faces while lying in bed can be significant.  So even a house that faces what you want may not be the right house depending on the interior architectural design!  The elderly client either did not consider the direction before making an offer on the house, or did not understand that so many things would happen, involving so many people, tying up the house for many weeks, and cost so many people so much money, him included.

Long story short, he canned the deal.  The Realtor canned him as a client.  She also canned me I think because I have not heard from her since.  The word got out though.  Even to this day, there are Realtors who put the direction of the house on their listing information.  And not just the Asian Realtors!  I have had the direction question many times since, but never resulting in that outcome. 

My recommendation:  It seems to me that if Feng Shui is that important to you as a buyer, you should have a compass in your pocket so when you pull up to the house the deal could be canned at THAT point!  But since they might not always have one handy, YOU as a Realtor should have one too.  My house faces due north.  How about you?

GOT COMPASS?

 

Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC  

Based in Bristow, serving all of Northern Virginia.

Office (703) 330-6388   Cell (703) 585-7560

www.jaymarinspect.com


Comment balloon 20 commentsJay Markanich • April 01 2009 09:01AM

Comments

Yes, I have a compass! Although your experience dates back a bit, it illustrates perfectly how important it is to be aware of aspects of cultural differences.  This Realtor did not have to "can" the customer, just find a house that would comply with his requirements while having a great opportunity to learn and set herself apart.

Posted by Silvia Dukes PA, Broker Associate, CRS, CIPS, SRES, Florida Waterfront and Country Club Living (Tropic Shores Realty - Ich spreche Deutsch!) over 9 years ago

Silvia - I think she was mad at everybody!  Maybe the client canned her!  The end of the story is that I did another inspection for him later, and he had an Asian realtor...

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 9 years ago

Jay, I think that Feng Shui has it roots in some very basic universal principles that became sort of systematized over time.  Some are very close to the principles used to orient and design houses to optimize use of the sun in passive solar structures----others seem a little "out-there."  Sizes of rooms is an interesting one being based on Tatami mat sizes that are in themselves "golden rectangles" which in themselves are based on logarithmic spirals.  I have a lot of asian clients and several have brought in Feng Shui experts in conjunction with the inspection.

Posted by Charles Buell, Seattle Home Inspector (Charles Buell Inspections Inc.) over 9 years ago

Charlie - I have too!  I understand it to have to do with "chi," or life forces, good and bad.  You can attract or repel the chi.

My house faces north - I am apparently attracting good Career chi and am black and blue...!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 9 years ago

Jay,

One time, days after doing an inspection, I noted I had checked a wrong box. I was right that the main entries were north and south, but for front had it the wrong way. Otherwise, all was correct. I sent an Email, just in case it made a difference to the person. Hate to be in the doghouse on that one.

Posted by Steven L. Smith, Bellingham WA Home Inspector (King of the House Home Inspection, Inc.) over 9 years ago

Steve - wow, if you are hauled into court for that one we are sunk as a society!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 9 years ago

Jay - Now I know what I have been doing wrong all these years.  Thanks for turning my life around.  Will let you know how it works out.

Posted by Jack Gilleland (Home Inspection and Investor Services, Clayton) over 9 years ago

Jack - you live in a mobil home and can change the direction it faces?

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 9 years ago

Many cultures have rules about the direction a house faces.  Most are related, as Charlie said, on cultural or religious concepts.  The Navajos, for instance require the door of their hogan to face East.  Many no longer live in hogans but they usually will have one out back for ceremonial use.  In this time of multiculturalism it behooves us all to be as aware as possible.

Posted by David Helm, Bellingham, Wa. Licensed Home Insp (Helm Home Inspections) over 9 years ago

Many cultures have rules about the direction a house faces.  Most are related, as Charlie said, on cultural or religious concepts.  The Navajos, for instance require the door of their hogan to face East.  Many no longer live in hogans but they usually will have one out back for ceremonial use.  In this time of multiculturalism it behooves us all to be as aware as possible.

Posted by David Helm, Bellingham, Wa. Licensed Home Insp (Helm Home Inspections) over 9 years ago

Hi David - I am an American in my own country.  For me to be "aware" of every belief of every culture is a bit overwhelming.  We might focus a bit better on our own culture, that to which so many other cultures are drawn, because it seems to me that ours is becoming diluted and slipping away from us rapidly.  Then what will we be left with and what will be inherited by our grandchildren?  Certainly something less than the greatness and strength that we inherited and that is so attractive to others.

Feng Shui, I have since learned from my Chinese friends across the street, is superstition, not religious.  If something, like Feng Shui, is important to a buyer, it should be brought up in advance of a circumstance such as this one!  It is a bit odd to me for an American realtor to have to be concerned with what direction a house faces.

Different strokes for different folks, to be sure.  But remember, this is almost 20 years ago and that realtor felt blind sided!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 9 years ago

Hello Jay, I think you may have stumbled onto what we could charge as a ancillary service. Yes I can see it now. Compass Readings = $20 per inspection. LOL

Posted by Tad Petersen / Home Inspector, Mpls (Safeguard Home Inspections, Inc.) over 9 years ago

Tad - thinking like an American!  That sounds like a money-meking bonanza!  Don't let Geithner know - he might try to cap the income we can earn...

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 9 years ago

if you haven't read it yet you should check out carole provencale..'s blogs........I'm thinking there might be more to it then just a compass! :-)

Posted by Liz Moras Migic, Chilliwack, British Columbia - Realtor over 9 years ago

Liz - will do!  I posted this on another home inspector site and everyone is having fun with the chart.  What I don't understand is the colors.  I expect they are "ruling" colors for the direction you face.  I also understand fro my Chinese friends across the street, who say it is peasant superstition, that everything can be counteracted or overcome by furniture placement and things.  I'll check out Carole....

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 9 years ago

Many Americans follow Feng Shui's "Amercanized" version.  It simply means "Put all your husbands stuff in the garage" ! It seems to be pretty popular from what I have seen during my inspections.

<grin>

Dana

Posted by Dana Bostick (True Professionals, Inc.) over 9 years ago

No wonder I have such good chi while in the garage! Now I have to find my compass, too.

all the best...

Posted by Bill Saunders, Realtor®, www.BillSellsHotSprings.com (Meyers Realty) over 9 years ago

Dana - sorry, I did not see your post until now!  On inspections, when we get to the garage, I usually open the door and say, "Here's your shed."

Bill - is tai chi the opposite of chai tea?

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 9 years ago

Jay - You're right! If the direction of the house made a difference, the buyer should have been carrying his own compass. I think I've seen little ones in stores for under $5.

I think feng shui is fun to play with - and when you balance all the elements in a room, the room definitely feels more comfortable.

Posted by Marte Cliff, your real estate writer (Marte Cliff Copywriting) over 5 years ago

You and I might think it fun Marte, and balance is good no matter what you call it.  But some people think of feng shui in a way that is more than just superstition, really bordering on religion!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 5 years ago

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