If you’re looking at property websites in Hong Kong to rent, you’ll need to tick all your usual prerequisites: budget, size, location, etc. BUT if you’re looking for a (possibly) good deal, then you may want to tick the box that says ‘is haunted house‘.
This usually means that there’s been an at-home death – apparently a common occurrence – in the property/area; and when someone dies in one of the city’s properties, most Chinese people (and the superstitious) don’t want to live in them anymore for fear of hauntings.
If you’re not bothered about it, the folks at spacious.hk are capitalising on this ‘niche’ search option. Why? Simply because property prices at one of these hung jaak (as they’re known in Cantonese) can be a lot cheaper.
They’re probably the only property agency to list ‘hauntings’ as a search option for property – but whether they’re used by people who want to live in one, or those wanting to avoid living in one, is still unknown.
The team goes one step further than simply listing the buildings with incidents – they actually note how the person(s) actually died. For example, the website’s map lists a ton of addresses where deaths range from falling off buildings to carbon monoxide poisoning. If you’re using the site’s ‘haunted’ filter, you’ll see a surprising profusion of haunted locations.
Morbidly, there’s someone at spacious.hk’s office that actually collects data on bizarre murders and suicides – by monitoring the news and police reports – and updates the website as part of their everyday job.
A majority of these deaths are suicides, usually triggered by relationship issues or illness. Some are more bizarre: a drunk Canadian fell to his death when he tried to climb to his apartment after forgetting his keys; an old man was apparently ‘cold to death’.
As anyone knows, whenever a calamity befalls a home, it affects its feng shui – and the home’s occupants mentality. And because Hong Kongers take feng shui very seriously, any death incident can potentially affect its property price significantly.
For example, remember J Residence (one of HK’s most luxurious residential buildings), where 2 sex workers were found gruesomely murdered in 2014? The rental for that apartment dropped by half, as many superstitious Chinese began moving out of the apartment complex.
However, if feng shui isn’t a concern, a former ‘bad feng shui’ neighbourhood can turn into the next hipster hood. For example, the Po Hing Fong neighbourhood was ground zero for the bubonic plague during the British era; these days, it’s one of HK’s trendier neighbourhoods – nicknamed ‘PoHo’ – and its large expat community has given rise to its profusion of expensive stores and craft beer bars.
While spacious.hk has listings in Taipei, Shanghai and Shenzhen, they don’t have the ‘haunted’ filter. Yet. Who knows if they’ll make their way to Singapore.