Why One Tradition Says a Statue of St. Joseph Can Help Sell Your House
The other day I got an interesting call from a couple who had purchased a house I sold. They told me they had seen the Seller out in their backyard the night before digging for something out after dark. They understandably thought it odd, almost a bit creepy and not knowing what he may have been doing, called me about it. Turns out he had buried a small statue of St. Joseph in the backyard a while back in an effort to help sell the house faster and forgot to dig it up!I don’t remember my instructors way back in real estate school suggesting that burying a plastic figure in your yard will in turn bring on throngs of buyers to your property. Yet untold numbers of homeowners have confirmed that by following this practice they were able to successfully sell their home. And it couldn’t have been due in part to them hiring the right Realtor?Having been a real estate agent now for quite a while, I can honestly say I’ve been asked about this more often that you might think. Is it true what they say about burying a statue of St. Joseph to help sell a house? Does it really work? Isn’t it actually just a silly myth? Can placing a plastic likeness inspire a prospective buyer to choose my house over the nice family down the street trying to sell their house? Really?Still looking for that shovel? Let’s take a brief dive into using this little statue for a quick sale. For the purposes of this blog I’ll use the terms Tradition, rather than calling the practice a myth or a strategy. Homeowners hoping to sell their home often feel a need of a miracle for a quick sale. And folklore may hold the solution!
A Brief History of Real Estate and the St. Joseph Statue
Let’s acknowledge there is no definitive version of the St. Joseph story – but there are many variations. Origins are unclear but some say the legend originated with a group of German carpenters who buried images of St. Joseph under the houses they built for good luck. After all, who’s the most famous carpenter you know whose father was named Joseph? Others say the tradition began in Europe around the 16th century with nuns in a Closter needing to expand their lands and after saying prayers to him began to bury medals of this likeness in the ground and appeared to work. And there are many others. While we don’t know its origins for certain, suffice it to say this legend really began gaining traction in the 1970’s and is now commonplace.
A Step-by-Step Guide to Using St. Joseph’s Statue
Although you’ll find any number of varied steps that have made their way into this home selling tradition over the years, here’s a basic rundown:
Get a St. Joseph Statue. You can find these online everywhere, sold as Home Selling Kits, at Catholic stores and even from a few of my Realtor friends!
Cover the small statue in some type of cloth or protective wrapping. Doing this will keep the statue clean and shows a degree of respect for the saint. And since many claim the statue is to be displayed visibly in your new castle once your home sells, this will also make it a lot easier to clean when you place it on your mantle.
Bury the statue in your yard. This is where it gets a little fuzzy. Some say the tradition calls for the piece to be placed in the southwest corner of your property and upside down. Others say it should be near your Real Estate sign and lying on its left side. Still others maintain it should be placed right side up near the corner of the house. Or in the flower bed. Or lying on its back pointing towards the house like an arrow. Or even facing away from the house. (One who tried this reportedly claimed the house across the street sold, and it wasn’t even on the market for sale).
Say a prayer. I’ll leave this one up to you. You can recite the ones that customarily come in the kit or make up your own. I personally subscribe to the luminous theology both in my daily life as well as a veteran home seller, “Pray as though it is up to God and work as though it is up to us.” But that’s me.
Retrieve the statue once your home sells. Tradition says to place it somewhere noticeable as a token of gratitude.
So Does Burying a Figure of St. Joseph Really work?
Let me begin by circling back to my recent seller experienced. They tried it and were convinced that putting the little statuette in the yard made difference. We did have over 15 families come through and they said it wasn’t until they gave it a shot that we finally got an offer – a full price one!
I had other clients who told me around the closing table that they had placed St. Joseph under my yard sign the very first day in hopes that all would go smoothly. While it’s hard to say whether it made the difference, our first offer did fall through during inspections but quickly went under contract again and successfully sold.
And how could I forget my other sellers who spent the entire time, while on the market, arguing whether or not it was a form of idolatry and a sacrilege. I think he still has his little statue in his toolbox.
I have been told by trusted Catholic friends that St. Joseph is the patron saint of home and family. They say if you wish to ask him to somehow intercede on your behalf as you move then go ahead. And I know Catholics who are embarrassed by this whole conversation.
I know some of you subscribe to the idea that the notion of burying something in your yard to sell your home is a bit absurd, as though it originated as a joke and somehow gained traction as a proven real estate strategy.
Ultimately, I don’t believe there’s any concrete evidence that this tradition or legend will help you sell your home more easily. Having said that, if this ritual in some way makes you feel more hopeful or confident in the selling process, that’s up to you.
Most of you know Cathy and I love our church community and as Christians have come to believe that Faith is not about a series of magical deals we make in some fashion with God. If you want to petition God about selling your house and moving forward, rather than burying St. Joseph, maybe place it on your dresser as a small physical thing to remind you to say a prayer.
While there is no measurable harm in giving St. Joseph’s services a try, there is also no harm in considering some other valuable tips. For the practice of putting a statue of St. Joseph to work the best, the seller must also consider working to complete any and all necessary repairs and improvements, properly organizing and staging your home and deciding on an offering price that accurately reflects its local market value. One final tip – investing in an experienced real estate agent is the bst thing you can do to insure the best selling outcome. Period. And it sure beats sneaking around your old house at night with a flashlight.