The nonexistent 13th floor is important to real estate developers

Many people all across the country -- from San Francisco to New York City -- are aware of a real estate phenomenon that results in very few buildings listing a 13th floor. Though the building has a literal 13th floor, there is no reference to it in marketing materials; or on a map in the lobby; or on the buttons in the elevator. Instead, the building just skips from the 12th floor to the 14th floor.

The reason for this design quirk is superstition. The number 13 is considered to be unlucky to some people; and although not every New Yorker may believe such a superstition, the negative stigma of the number 13 has led many developers to stay away from calling the 13th floor of their building by its appropriate name.

The phenomenon is apparently more common with newer buildings, while older buildings are more immune to the disappearing 13th floor; but there is nothing definitive to support this claim. However, there are an astonishing number of mid- and high-rise condominiums in Manhattan and Brooklyn that lack a listed 13th floor. At least 95 percent of these buildings do not have a 13th floor.

With this in mind, the question is "why follow such a phenomenon that is based merely on superstition?" Surely there are developers and real estate tycoons that do not believe in the number 13 superstition.

The phenomenon lives on because it is merely a logistical ploy towards selling real estate: even if having a 13th floor only slightly reduces your chance of selling a condo or renting out an apartment, then why even have it? It's something for all developers to consider. You may not believe in it -- but if it affects your potential market, then the risk is not worth it.

Source: Wall Street Journal, "A 13th-Floor Condo? No Such Luck," Sanette Tanaka, Sept. 5, 2013