My co-worker, Charles Rocknak called this morning to say he has a gift for me. He left it at the Front Porch Cafe (our local coffee shop extraordinaire) and said I need to pick it up before I head out of town. I’m here at the coffee shop, debating if I want to open this plain brown envelope in public or scurry off to the car where I can tear it open, away from prying eyes. I take the bold route and fearlessly rip it open in the middle of the coffee shop. Inside I discover a St. Joseph Real Estate Kit, consisting of an 8-inch tall plastic statue of St. Joseph and a brochure explaining what to do with it.
Joseph, the carpenter husband of the Virgin Mary, is the patron saint of laborers and house hunters, family, and household needs. For years there has been a persistent belief that you can sell a house faster if you bury a St. Joseph statue upside down in the front yard of the house. The United States Catholic Information Center in Washington, D.C., traces the tradition of burying St. Joseph back hundreds of years to St. Theresa of Avila (1515-1582), who prayed to St. Joseph for more land for Christian converts and encouraged her Discalced Carmelite nuns to bury St. Joseph medals in the ground as a symbol of their devotion.
This is not my first acquaintance with dear old Joseph. Some years ago, before our real estate market went crazy with appreciation, I listed a house in Ocean Sands in Corolla for some nice folks named the McDermotts. We tried everything but the place just wouldn’t sell. Until, that is, Mrs. McDermott bought a St. Joseph statue and buried it in the front yard. Within three weeks the place was sold, and for a pretty good price, if I remember correctly.
Up until about a year ago, ol’ St. Joe hasn’t been seen much because the real estate market was hot and houses were being snatched up as soon as they were put on the market. But in this slower market he’s making a comeback (consider the irony – this gift was FROM a real estate agent to me, another real estate agent, who is trying to sell her own house). Frankly, I’ll try anything. What have I got to lose? So as the sun set and the skies filled with glorious color, I dug a hole, popped Joe into the hole upside down and facing the house, shoveled the dirt back over him, and said a prayer asking that a buyer appear and that the new family would be happy and well in the house.
Since I’m retired, I’ve turned over the listing of my house to another agent, Whitney Hawkins. But I thought Whit should know I’m pulling out all the stops to help her sell my house. I emailed her, telling her about the statue I’d just buried. She replied, telling me that one of her listed properties had been on the market for a year and seven months and had not sold. “The listing was due to expire in one week and the sellers had all but decided to take the house off the market after the holidays. Before they left to visit their daughter for Christmas they buried a St. Joseph statue and while they were gone we got this offer and they are under contract!!”
Okay, Okay. In the face of all that proof, who am I to disbelieve?