This AFP piece on the intersection of morbid superstition and real estate piqued my interest. Local buyers typically shy from residences where gruesome, unnatural deaths occurred, so out-of-towners are swooping in to buy at a discount. Would you be bold enough to mess with the ghosts of Hong Kong?
Then there is the divorcee whose body was discovered a month after she poisoned herself with the fumes of burning charcoal, or the woman hacked to death and mutilated by her domestic helper in an exclusive apartment block.
For bargain hunters in Hong Kong’s turbocharged property market apartments that belonged to the recently deceased are proving irresistible — and the more gruesome the occupant’s demise the better.
By law, buyers are entitled to details on so-called “haunted houses” — or hongza in Cantonese — and many rigorously check the backstory to their potential purchase. Discounts of between 20-40 percent are the standard for haunted houses.
Popular belief in a city awash with superstition runs that the ghost of a person who dies in unnatural circumstances — a suicide, murder or bad accident — inhabits their home, passing misfortune onto the new occupants. The threat carries weight in a city where feng shui consultants do brisk business; families placate the “hungry ghosts” of their ancestors with offerings and people even refrain from whistling in the street in fear of disturbing lurking spooks.