Sellers seeking divine intervention

Can faith really move homes as well as mountains? By Toby Welch


It’s not surprising that home sellers look for help anywhere they can find it. The Catholic tradition of planting a statue of St. Joseph in the front yard of the home you are trying to sell isn’t just for religion zealots. Sales of the St. Joseph home selling kit skyrocket every time the housing market hits a slump. Can faith really move homes as well as mountains?

Where does this belief come from? Rumor has it that St. Teresa of Avila (A.D. 1515 – 1582) had an expanding order that required the building of a new, larger nunnery. The nun’s coffers weren’t full enough to buy the land on which to build the convent so St. Teresa buried medals with St. Joseph’s likeness on the desired property.

Having been born 450 Years too late, I have no personal confirmation of the matter but allegedly the pleas to St. Joseph worked. As centuries flew by, the custom evolved into burying a St. Joseph statue to hasten the sale of a home.

St. Joseph is the patron saint of employment and the home. Joseph was the husband of the Virgin Mary in the Bible, the earthly father of Jesus. He has a history in the real estate world.

Catholic author and Biblical scholar Stephen J. Binz, has written a book on the topic. St. Joseph, My Real Estate Agent: The Patron Saint of Home Life and Home Selling. Binz says “I believe God an work in people’s lives in all sorts of ways without our really understanding them. The book details the life of the saint and explains that burying a statue is a way of asking St. Joseph to look after one’s own family the way that Joseph provided for his own family, Mary and Jesus.

When burying the statue, you can’t just dig a hole and toss the statue inside, there is a protocol to follow. TE most prevalent practice is to bury the statue upside down with his feet facing the heavens, close to the For Sale sign in the front yard. The hole should be three inches deeper than the statue itself. When you insert the statue, it should be facing the direction of the street. The statue should be placed in a burial bag (Usually included in the kit) before being placed in the ground. Apartment and condo dwellers with no outside space should bury the statue in a potted plant on the patio. Before covering the statue with dirt, a prayer should be said to St. Joseph. Most kits come with a card with suggestions on what to say. Once the house sells the statue should be dug up, cleaned off, and placed in a spot of honour in the new home.

Does the St. Joseph statue really work or is it a bunch of babble? Some proclaim it is nonsense yet others are true believers in the statue’s power. Considering that millions of St. Joseph statue home-selling kits are sold every year through websites, religious goods stores, eBay and hardware stores, this custom shows that people are willing to try almost anything when it comes to selling their homes.

REM June 2010 by Toby Welch