You’ve fluffed your house to within an inch of its life: painting, decluttering, staging and even planting a couple dozen Knock Out roses. And your house still has not sold.

A savvy listing agent who truly understands the market is always your best resource, of course. But, just for fun, we thought we’d tell you about a widely shared secret thought to bring good luck in selling a home.

saintjoseph

If you are Catholic, you probably recall that Joseph, the husband of Mary, was a carpenter and is the patron saint of home and family. By extension, he has become the patron saint of home selling. Burying a small statue of Saint Joseph in the yard is supposed to guarantee a home sale.

We don’t know how or when this practice began, but we can tell you that thousands of real estate agents believe in this bit of folklore. Many buy small plastic or plaster Saint Joseph statues by the gross and bury one at every listing.

Does it work? To gain more insight into the practice we went to the center of all things mercantile and checked the ratings for the St. Joseph Home Seller Statue Kit on Amazon.com. It had a 4.2 overall rating. Some of the five-star comments:

  • “I put this in the ground next to my for sale sign, and the house sold in 20 days. The only down side is when I went to go and dig it up (I even marked the spot with a brick) it was gone. Dug up the ground around it and have no idea where it went to.”
  • “Even though the house did not sell, this statue and faith helped me realize that was the way it was meant to be. The statue is very nicely made. He has been moved to sit in my ivy plant, and my plant is ivy on steroids”

Even some of the one-star reviews had happy endings:

  • “Saint Joseph statue was in the ground for many months. I finally got frustrated and dug him up and broke his head off. We got two offers on our house a week later.”

In general, sales of Saint Joseph statues go up when the real estate market becomes more challenging, although we can find no statistics tracking this. According to a 2014 Wall Street Journal article, in 2009-2010, when home prices were stagnant across much of the country, the number of sales of St. Joseph statues more than doubled at St. Louis-based Catholic Supply. “When home-sale prices began to creep back up, St. Joseph statue sales dropped,” noted WSJ.

Catholic Supply offers a wide variety of Saint Joseph statues and kits, as well as a 133-page book titled Saint Joseph, My Real Estate Agent for $8.99. In it, author Stephen Binz takes “a personal, humorous, light, and loving look at Joseph, depicting his life as a husband and father, homebuilder, and carpenter.”

There are many variations on the statue-burial theme and details are debated, but in general the home seller or selling real estate agent buys a small statue of Saint Joseph – the HAR office at 3693 Southwest Freeway stocks them – and buries it upside-down in the yard facing the for-sale home. (If you live in a high-rise, you can bury the statue in a potted plant.) Adding another layer of myth is the notion that burying the statue upside-down will make the statue work extra hard to get out of the ground and back into a safe and comfortable home. After the house sells, the seller is supposed to dig up the statue and place it in a spot of honor in the new home.

A word of advice: Be careful where you bury the statue. After all, you don’t want to sell the house behind you or across the street instead of your own.