Realty blues? Saint it ain't so
By Tom Hennessy
(Columnist for the Press Telegram*)
Real estate is not my bag. I don't know escrow from egret. But recently I heard a conversation that knocked me out. The participants were discussing the greatest real estate agent of all time.
Their nominee: St. Joseph.
That's right; Joseph, the husband of Mary, earthly father of Jesus, and patron saint of carpenters and families. Although gone for nearly 2,000 years, he apparently continues to turn more real estate deals than Donald Trump and does so while standing on his head.
What we have here is a tradition well known to some, but unknown to others. It is this: If the property you are trying to sell is not moving, bury a small plastic statue of St. Joseph upside-down in your front lawn. Be sure it is facing your "For Sale' sign.
The tradition also requires that when your property does sell, you must unearth the statue and give it a place of honor in your new house.
Is all this for real? Maybe.
I put the question to my son-in-law, Randy Rousseau, who sells real estate in Sonoma County. "I heard this only once,' he said. "There was a custom-built house in Sebastopol. It wasn't selling. The people went and did this. It was followed by an accepted offer.'
He giggled as he told me this.
Big in Long Beach
What may only be an occasional practice in Sonoma County appears to be a real-estate way of life in the Long Beach area.
Marna Brennan, my favorite Long Beach real estate person, says, "I believe the St. Joseph burial practice is fairly well-known in the real-estate industry. I've had several clients try it. It does seem to work.
"One client was devastated that her house wasn't selling last summer in the heat of the market. Homes all around hers were being gobbled up. She purchased a statue, buried it, and we had two offers the following week.'
The Internet abounds with stories about the golden touch of St. Joseph of Real Estate. One involves a frustrated seller who gave up on the statue and threw it in the trash. Two days later, the story goes, the local trash dump was sold to developers.
The practice is acknowledged on the urban legends site www.snopes.com which traces its origins to Europe in the Middle Ages.
So prolific is the practice that for $9.95 a Modesto company, Inner Circle Marketing, will send you an "Underground Real Estate Agent' kit, including St. Joseph statue, burial bag, instructions, and a history of the saint.
The Inner Circle Web site (www.stjosephstatue.com) also includes testimonials from satisfied customers like the Seattle woman who said the ground was too hard to bury the statue when it arrived in the mail last winter. She compromised by placing it on her compost heap. The house did not sell. But it was rented.
According to Brennan, known in our family as "Marvelous Marna,' St. Joseph may not be quite as busy these days as he has been at other times.
"It's been a seller's market for about five years, so I would imagine sales of the statue have slipped. However, if the market turns into a buyer's market, business will definitely heat up for St. Joseph.'
Mrs. H and I were unaware of all this St. Joseph business when, three years ago, we sold our home in Cypress and moved to Long Beach. But then, with all respect to the saint, we didn't need him.
We had Marvelous Marna.
Tom Hennessy's viewpoint appears Sunday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday. He can be reached at (562) 499-1270 or by e-mail at Scribe17@aol.com
* I have the honor of presenting the above article, which was written by Tom Hennessy, a great friend of mine who writes multiple weekly columns for the Press Telegram newspaper. This article fits in so well with TheRandomTimes.com that I asked his permission to reprint it here. It was originally printed 08/17/2005 in the Press Telegram. -- Thanks Tom!
Hennessy, Tom. "Realty blues? Saint it ain't so." The Random Times Volume 1. #28 (2005):
The quixotic mind of Lorenzo Gigliotti
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