Does Patron Saint Joseph Help Get Houses Sold Faster?
Even if you're not Catholic, a prayer to Saint Joseph might be just the thing to help you get your house sold, according to thousands of people across the United States. Then again, maybe it won't.
I've always been interested in learning about various religions and their belief systems. I'm certainly no biblical scholar, but I'm well-versed, if you'll pardon the pun. When the topic of St. Joseph was broached among a group of Realtors, I was surprised that I'd never heard of what my fellow expert house sellers claimed: "Bury a statue of St. Joseph and the house will sell. I order them by the dozens!" I was even more surprised that more agents believed it helped than those who thought it was malarkey. Many of the believers said they aren't Catholic, even!
Yep.... I definitely had to learn more!
But First.... Do Catholics Pray to Saints?
I've had a number of discussions with Catholics and non-Catholics about this topic. Some Christians believe that Catholics must be violating a cherished biblical principle: "Thou shalt have no other gods before me." (Exodus 20:3, King James Version).
There are other verses of the bible that express similar ideas, most found in the Old Testament.
Catholics, however, have another outlook. They call this practice intercession, which means they're asking a saint to plead, or intercede, on behalf of someone who needs it.
"It's no different than if you ask your deceased family member to watch over you," explained Karen, a woman who teaches a class introducing people to Catholicism. "Many, many people talk to their departed friends and family without a second thought, and intercession is essentially the same thing."
National Geographic: Tektōn as a Trade in Biblical Times
Why St. Joseph is Called Upon to Help with Real Estate Sales
Although there are many men named Joseph in the bible, only one is considered a patron saint. A patron saint is a saint who is seen as a special guardian of some sort.
St. Joseph is viewed as a patron saint of many things, including:
- People in doubt
- The Catholic church
- China, Peru, Viet Nam
Ok, don't ask me about the countries, because I don't know how these associations came about! But it's easy to understand why Joseph is associated with other topics that people call upon him for.
In ancient writings, he was called a tektōn (τέκτων in Greek). The more familiar word "technology" comes from tektōn, which originally meant someone who was an artisan, particularly skilled with stone, wood, or machine-type objects.
It makes sense, then, that he would be viewed as having a connection to carpenters and workers. But why would he be viewed as a guardian for families?
As I'm sure everyone knows, Jesus' mother, Mary, was reportedly a virgin when she gave birth to Jesus. She was betrothed to Joseph, who considered breaking off their engagement. Both Matthew and Luke report in the gospels that Joseph chose not to disgrace Mary and stayed with her, and was said to have treated her well after an angel appeared to him.
He treated Jesus as his own son, teaching his "foster son" the skills he needed to become a tektōn, too. The National Geographic video shown here challenges the notion of Jesus as simply a wood-working carpenter, but it gives the viewer an idea of the sort of work Joseph is believed to have taught to Jesus and why a "carpenter" probably also meant stone mason.
There are contradictions and many unknown facts about Joseph's life. He's only mentioned three times in the bible, and while many believe he died before Jesus' public life earned him notoriety, the date of his death isn't mentioned in the New Testament.
Clearly, if the biblical reports are accurate, Joseph is a superb example of a man who symbolized protection of both home and loved ones. It seems logical that he would empathize with families in trouble, particularly when it comes to the structures they live in!
How to Seek St. Joseph's Assistance
I found a few variations on how to seek intercession on a real estate sale. More than simply saying a prayer to St. Joseph, believers bury a statue in their yard. The statue is customarily removed after a successful sale and placed indoors (after a thorough washing, of course!)
Using plastic statues of St. Joseph appears to be a recent tradition, first appearing in the late 1970s, the practice is probably based on the ancient practice of burying medals for similar reasons. There are various thoughts on how to place a statue of Saint Joseph, but all of them involve burying it somewhere in the yard around the house:
- Facing the street
- In a flower garden
- Upside down
- Right side up
- Facing the house
- Facing away from the house
- At a certain depth
- Next to the "for sale" sign
The statue's burial is to be accompanied by a prayer. There are also variations of this. I came across a simple one a website selling Saint Joseph medals:
O blessed Joseph, faithful guardian of my Redeemer, Jesus Christ, protector of thy chaste spouse, the virgin Mother of God, I choose thee this day to be my special patron and advocate and I firmly resolve to honor thee all the days of my life.
Therefore I humbly beseech thee to receive me as thy client, to instruct me in every doubt, to comfort me in every affliction, to obtain for me and for all the knowledge and love of the Heart of Jesus, and finally to defend and protect me at the hour of my death.
Other prayers can be found online or in home sales kits like the one shown here. I assume you could say your own prayer, too, and hopefully score some points for originality!
What YOU say....
What Real Estate Agents Say About St. Joseph
I belong to several groups of Realtors who discuss real estate trends, best practices, and share their troubling or exciting moments. A sampling of their comments:
- "Worked for me." Geri M.
- "It worked for me when I tried to sell two of my own houses. Tell them to go for it!" Carmen J.
- "I'm going to do it in the spring when we put our house on the market... I'm an Agent and Catholic!" Judy T.
- "Good karma is never a bad thing! Worked on two personal homes." Eva P.
- "Do it for every property I've listed...all sold in short time." Brett S.
- "I've always thought it was crazy but it's worked too many times for me to discount it. Who knew!" Martine A.
- "Love it, use it. St. Joe has always come through for me!" Aimee J.
- "Sold 100% of my exclusives." Ruslan M.
- "Why not? I have lots of clients of all religions, I promise great marketing and enlist the help of St. Joesph every day! I order St. Joesph's by the dozen." Arlene R.
- "Pricing it right works better!" Rick M.
- "I have one in the front yard and back yard of a listing with no luck for several months!" Cathy C.
- "I got it wrong. I buried St Francis and got stray cats." Kelly M.
- "Test case: Bury one in front of a house that isn't listed and see if it sells anyway. Then we'll know." Dennis A.
As you can see, the number of believers outweighed the skeptics by nearly two to one. While I was looking for more information, I stumbled across an item at Snopes that I thought Dennis A. would have enjoyed. Quoting from the book shown here (above right), Barbara Mikkelson said one of the anecdotes told of a man whose property hadn't sold, despite his appeal to Saint Joseph. Frustrated, he threw the statue in the trash, only to discover a few days later in a newspaper headline that his local dump had been sold.
Conclusion: An Anecdote of my Own
I call myself spiritual, but not religious. As I mentioned, I just heard of this practice recently, although I've been selling real estate since 2004.
I do not believe that an overpriced house in lousy condition or a bad location will sell simply because someone has turned to Saint Joseph. I'll still be advising my sellers to get their home looking its best and to price it competitively. However, I did find myself thinking about one of the first listings I ever took.
I'd called Helga because she had a "For Sale By Owner" sign in her yard. She lived in a cute tri-level, brick home on ten acres. She was planning to move to another state, and her husband had already relocated.
"How much are you asking for the house?" I inquired.
She replied, "I won't take less than $185,000." GASP! After carefully examining market data around the small community, I realized the house wouldn't appraise for more than $130,000. Although I probably wouldn't accept a listing so overpriced today, I was brand new to real estate and told her I'd do my best to sell it for her. At least it would generate some buyer inquiries, I thought, and I'd sell them a house, even if it wasn't hers.
As we completed the paperwork, she said she would leave the custom draperies, the hot tub, and a few other significant items, including a variety of statues that decorated her yard. "But I'm going to take the St. Joseph statue," she declared.
The statue was about two feet tall and was situated next to her front porch.
In the weeks that followed, she received two offers on her house. Both were quite reasonable, I thought, since I knew that an appraiser would never report a market value of $185,000.
She rejected both offers and reiterated that she planned to hold out for full price. Nothing I said persuaded her to drop the price at all.
Yet just a couple months later, a full price offer came in! I expected a problem with the buyer getting a loan, because a bank won't loan more than market value, so I made sure the buyer's agent was aware of this possibility. "Oh, it's a cash offer, and he knows it's overpriced, but it's what he wants," she said.
Count me in the "It can't hurt!" group of Realtors from now on.
mikec1978 from UK on December 12, 2017:
I'm not sure about helping sell a house but my gran always said that putting a statue of St Joseph outside under an umbrella would bring good whether.
jellygator (author) from USA on December 06, 2017:
I hope you'll have a wonderfully fast and profitable sale with or without Saint Joseph's assistance!
Patricia Scott from North Central Florida on December 06, 2017:
I was not familiar with this at all. Interestingly enough the house I live in belongs to my family and is currently on the market. Perhaps St. Joseph will be with us in this endeavor. Angels are on the way this morning ps
jellygator (author) from USA on January 24, 2015:
If you do, I hope it works quickly and profitably for you! Thank you for stopping by!
Mary Norton from Ontario, Canada on January 23, 2015:
I enjoyed your anecdote. I pray to St. Joseph but this is the first time I've heard of his intercession in real estate sale. Will definitely try this next time.
jellygator (author) from USA on October 10, 2013:
GoodLady, please do let us know!
Mark, thanks for stopping and leaving a comment!
Mark Johann from New Zealand on October 10, 2013:
I am sure that SAINTS are intercessor. They are with God and that anytime they can help us. Catholicism is not like other religions that only call God. Cooperation with the saints are essential to be with God in heaven.
Penelope Hart from Rome, Italy on October 09, 2013:
Great! I'm putting a St Joseph in the garden of my house when I try to sell it next year. I'll let you know how it goes.