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Your Underground Real Estate Agent©
November 18, 2007 7:01 PM   Subscribe

You have to make sure that St. Joseph is facing your house, if you face it out, the neighbor's house across the street will sell instead. "We buried our little gem under the for sale sign just like we were supposed to do. On October 4th, yes the 4th, just 24 hours after we buried him, we had a showing and after several counter-offers back and fourth, we finally signed a contract on October 19th!!!!! 7 months after the house was sitting and not getting any bites at all and after 1 day, its sold!!! I have complete and utter faith." America's desperate homesellers and realtors are turning to St. Joseph, Your Underground Real Estate Agent.
posted by quonsar (80 comments total)

 
Original 4" St Joseph Statue Home Sales Kit - $9.95
Our Larger 8" St Joseph Statue Home Sales Kit - $13.95
The Book "St. Joseph, My Real Estate Agent" - $7.50
Paying for God's blessing - priceless.
posted by flatluigi at 7:10 PM on November 18, 2007


I'm burying one of these in front of the Whitehouse.
posted by stavrogin at 7:11 PM on November 18, 2007 [8 favorites]


Too bad. Gem was such a good dog.
posted by hal9k at 7:11 PM on November 18, 2007


wall street journal has noted the trend.
posted by quonsar at 7:12 PM on November 18, 2007


I thought St. Joseph was the Patron Saint of Baby Aspirin.
posted by wendell at 7:12 PM on November 18, 2007 [5 favorites]


Not in the market to sell your house? St Joseph also keeps away man-eating tigers. Never be bothered by tigers again!1

1Guarantee not valid in locations infested with tigers.
posted by DU at 7:13 PM on November 18, 2007 [3 favorites]


Who wants to go in with me so we can get the quantity discount? $9.95 is a little rich for my blood.
posted by madamjujujive at 7:15 PM on November 18, 2007


I guess this finally answers the question "Are there any Christians in the real estate biz?"

The answer being, no, they all pray to the Almighty Dollar.
posted by wendell at 7:16 PM on November 18, 2007


From the Articles and Videos About St. Joseph and the Tradition: Wall Street Journal article:

Cari Luna is Jewish by heritage and Buddhist by religion. She meditates regularly. Yet when she and her husband put their Brooklyn, N.Y., house on the market this year and offers kept falling through, Ms. Luna turned to an unlikely source for help: St. Joseph....

Some Realtors, too, swear by the practice. Ardell DellaLoggia, a Seattle-area Realtor, buried a statue beneath the "For Sale" sign on a property that she thought was overpriced. She didn't tell the owner until after it had sold. "He was an atheist," she explains. "But he thanked me."

omg, the subprime fiasco has addled people's brains.
posted by nickyskye at 7:16 PM on November 18, 2007 [1 favorite]


back and fourth?
posted by kitchenrat at 7:20 PM on November 18, 2007


I don't know if I've told this story on MeFi before, but I still think it's hilarious. You see, when my mother's partner sold her old house, she heard about the St. Joseph superstition and decided that it couldn't hurt, so she drove to a nearby Christian bookstore to get one. She asked the saleswoman if they had any statues of St. Joseph in stock, and was told:

"Ma'am, this is a Christian bookstore. You need a Catholic bookstore."
posted by Faint of Butt at 7:22 PM on November 18, 2007 [14 favorites]


American "christianity" seems to be less about actual Christianity and more like a syncretic folk-tradition which just happens to use Christian symbols and names. Kind of like voodoo, only far less coherent.
posted by nightchrome at 7:25 PM on November 18, 2007 [15 favorites]


In her book Fair Game, Valerie Plame Wilson says she buried a St. Joseph statue in her yard when she put her DC area home for sale in the wake of her outing.
posted by The Deej at 7:27 PM on November 18, 2007


back and fourth?

this is someone who thinks burying a plastic statue upside down in the yard caused a house to sell, and you expect correct spelling and grammar?
posted by quonsar at 7:29 PM on November 18, 2007 [1 favorite]


My brother did this. And his house sold within two days after being on the market for nine months. I wish this was a joke.

I spent two days laughing at his superstition and making jokes about voodoo. Then his fucking house sold. Just like that. Swear to god.
posted by ColdChef at 7:33 PM on November 18, 2007 [1 favorite]


"God bless those pagans"
posted by growabrain at 7:36 PM on November 18, 2007


"we'll throw the commission up in the air, and what St. Joseph wants, he'll keep..."
posted by quonsar at 7:37 PM on November 18, 2007 [5 favorites]


My wife did this at our house about six or so weeks ago.

As my wife is not religious at all, I asked her if she was crazy as it was obviously just some superstition.

"I don't care if it is superstitious. I'll try anything at this point. People pray for stuff all the time. What's the difference between praying for something and burying a statue?"

"Ten dollars."
posted by flarbuse at 7:45 PM on November 18, 2007 [7 favorites]


"Ten dollars."
Same as in town.
posted by wendell at 7:48 PM on November 18, 2007 [3 favorites]


What's the difference between praying for something and burying a statue?"

"Ten dollars."



On a completely unrelated side note, to this day, I respond to people who ask me "What's the difference between x and y?" with "We have cameras."

I keep hoping one day I'll say it to someone who will get the reference. It's my little MeFi shibboleth I guess.

Okay, sorry for the digression. Back to the show.
posted by John Kenneth Fisher at 7:54 PM on November 18, 2007


Bury it under you Bathtub Mary for extra magic.
posted by The Straightener at 7:55 PM on November 18, 2007


I'm burying one of these in front of the Whitehouse.

A week later, we'll either have Chinese tanks rolling up Pennsylvania Avenue, or they'll be mounting a sign on top saying "International White House of Pancakes."

And we'll hunt you down either way.
posted by dw at 7:55 PM on November 18, 2007


stupid, stupid humans....
posted by photoslob at 8:04 PM on November 18, 2007


I wonder if it hasn't worked for anyone.
Reminds me of all the people who come back from A.C. and tell how much they won. For a while I was afraid the casinos would all go out of business. But they didn't.
posted by notreally at 8:12 PM on November 18, 2007


That's nothing. I sacrificed a goat during our re-fi; you wouldn't imagine the rate we got. Swear to god.
posted by Kadin2048 at 8:19 PM on November 18, 2007 [2 favorites]


I don't know anyone who this has worked for, but as a Catholic growing up in Michigan I sure heard this tradition talked about a lot. Kids even brought it up in school when we were learning about Saint Joseph (Catholic school of course). I do love syncretism...sincerely.
posted by Tesseractive at 8:20 PM on November 18, 2007


My grandmother and a lot of the other Jews I grew up around buried St. Joseph statues when I was a kid, likely gleaned from the very Italian Catholic neighborhood I grew up in. (Our houses didn't sell particularly fast, though the first one was sold to a family who put a virgin mary statue in the front yard.)
posted by birdie birdington at 8:22 PM on November 18, 2007


Idiots idiotic. Film at 11.
posted by pompomtom at 8:24 PM on November 18, 2007


Wait a minute. I'm a severely lapsed Catholic, but I always thought St Joseph existed to find lost car keys, sort of like a supernatural clapper. How did I miss the real estate voodoo angle?
posted by maryh at 8:26 PM on November 18, 2007


Which is the patron saint of login cookies? Because I could really use that one.
posted by dhartung at 8:29 PM on November 18, 2007


Notable by it's absence is the testimony from the tens of thousands who succumbed to the appeal of this low-rent magic, and yet subsequently failed to achieve any result.

The propensity of the credulous to confuse cause and effect relies on our innate predisposition to selectively edit input from an otherwise overwhelming sea of data.

The entire casino-industry's business model relies precisely on a gambler's tendency to recall and report successful ventures, while ignoring negative ones.

The religious rackets are no different.
posted by PareidoliaticBoy at 8:37 PM on November 18, 2007 [1 favorite]


Oh, Jesus Fucking Christ On A Pogo Stick!
posted by ericb at 8:42 PM on November 18, 2007


We tried it, even though we're both agnostic.

The bottom fell out of the real estate market immediately, and we ended up renting the house out after it spent four months on the market.

Oh well.
posted by padraigin at 8:43 PM on November 18, 2007


If only everyone would bury all their religious paraphernalia...
posted by Reggie Digest at 8:48 PM on November 18, 2007 [3 favorites]


I'm a very lapsed Catholic, and an atheist, but I don't see anything wrong with this. It's like throwing salt over your shoulder when you spill it. Pointless, but who does it hurt? It makes you feel like you have some control over the uncontrollable.
posted by empath at 8:53 PM on November 18, 2007 [1 favorite]


Maybe I'm superstitious in spite of being reasonably certain there's no god, but I do think there's power in positive thinking, and that things like this (or feng shui, or praying with beads, meditating on objects, smudging your space, etc) can help you focus your energy in the right direction.

And as empath says, about control: when you've done all you actually can do in a situation, it's nice to have a formal renunciation of your role in what happens next. Rituals are awesome that way.

Even when they don't fucking work and you find yourself a reluctant landlord, which OBVIOUSLY the universe wanted you to be.
posted by padraigin at 9:25 PM on November 18, 2007 [2 favorites]


Oh, Jesus Fucking Christ On A Pogo Stick!

Not possible.

And no one would want a statue of it if it were.
posted by bwg at 9:57 PM on November 18, 2007


Where's the harm? Someone's making thousands of dollars off this scam, to suckers who believe it will work for them. That's the harm. They're the same people who well sell cancer sufferers blessed water, the same people who will promise entrance to heaven if you tithe x amount. That's the harm.

The timing of this is interesting, in that I was prognosticating social trends over peak oil a few days ago. One of them was increased church attendance. How long do you think it is until we get "wrapping this rosary aound your exhaust pipe will give you 50 miles to the gallon! I swear it's true!"
posted by Bora Horza Gobuchul at 10:10 PM on November 18, 2007


According to the site, St Joseph is patron saint "against doubt, cabinetmakers, Canada, carpenters, China, confectioners, craftsmen, dying people, engineers, families, fathers, happy death, holy death, house hunters, Korea, laborers, Mexico, New France, people in doubt, Peru, pioneers, protector of the Church, social justice, travellers, Universal Church, Vatican II, Viet Nam, workers, working people".

That's a lot of things to be against. And what's he got against Canada, China, Korea, Mexico, New France, Peru, & Vietnam?

Mind you, it explains why the local orphanage where I grew up was called St Joseph's ...

(What, you say I'm reading it wrong? Then why, if he's the patron saint of house hunters, would you bury him facing away from them and towards your own house?)
posted by Pinback at 10:28 PM on November 18, 2007


There sure are a lot of uneducated people in that country. Poor saps. Maybe the UN should step in.
posted by blacklite at 11:01 PM on November 18, 2007


Seems condos are quicker to sell as they don't have a St. Joseph Condo Model. Any instructions where to bury it¿

Desperate measure require desperate actions, WTH, why not, indeed.

I saw an episode on HGTV, where the home owner did this, a most undignified position for a saint¿ Nu¿
Upside down, ass up facing the house¿ What kind of cruel luck is this¿¿

Home Buyers Please Note: Any fresh diggings surrounding the property — property has been up for sale longer than mentioned and possibly desperate now.
posted by alicesshoe at 11:06 PM on November 18, 2007 [1 favorite]


It sells the house as fast as it can or else it gets the dirtnap again.
posted by vrakatar at 11:08 PM on November 18, 2007 [1 favorite]


I'm not real fond of the tags on this post, btw. This is neither idolatry nor paganism, and those are both slurs that have been directed at the Catholic church for centuries by Puritans and fundamentalists.
posted by empath at 11:29 PM on November 18, 2007


MeFi: Kind of like voodoo, only far less coherent.
posted by darkstar at 11:29 PM on November 18, 2007 [1 favorite]


I sold my house in a few weeks with a garden gnome in the garden!!!
Mail me to purchase an equally effective gnome.
posted by bystander at 1:20 AM on November 19, 2007 [1 favorite]


maryh - no, no, that's St. Anthony. Though I've always preferred St. Jude (patron saint of lost causes.)
posted by ubersturm at 1:39 AM on November 19, 2007 [1 favorite]


St Joseph is so 2005, it's all about the satanic rituals now.
posted by BrotherCaine at 2:05 AM on November 19, 2007


St Joseph existed to find lost car keys

I think for your lost object needs you'll be wanting St Anthony, but Old Joe is the (sacked) saint of safe travel.
posted by Wolof at 2:33 AM on November 19, 2007


Old Joe is the (sacked) saint of safe travel

In other news, I am so lapsed I couldn't even remember St Christopher properly. Bloody Hell, the Vatican purge of poor old Chris affected me worse than I knew!
posted by Wolof at 2:46 AM on November 19, 2007


So do crucifictions bring down the property value then?

I love weird little things like this, especially since I know there's someone out there making money off of it and laughing at them at the same time.
posted by Talanvor at 3:45 AM on November 19, 2007


Of course, burying the image of a saint upside down - especially Saint Joseph - is a traditional way of committing your soul to Satan forever, and thereby reserving yourself a hot piece of real estate in the hereafter.

Still, if it shifts the house...
posted by Phanx at 4:43 AM on November 19, 2007 [1 favorite]


One of my first memories is being in Chicago in my front yard, just before moving to Vegas, and my mom is digging something up near the flowerbed. I walked over to her to find that she had extracted a statue of a man and her explanation went right over my head. I was convinced my mom found buried treasure!

Presently St. Joseph is just the statue that gets passed around the family whenever their house goes up on the market- it is somewhere in between tradition and gag gift. Ours has been in the family for years, and even though most members of my family aren't devout Catholics anymore, people still call my mom (who was the oldest child, and thus keeper f the statue) for him whenever their house goes up on the market.
posted by haplesschild at 5:22 AM on November 19, 2007


In Ireland there is a superstition - not sure how widespread, but certainly well known in Galway - that if you bury the statue of the "Child of Prague" in your garden, it won't rain on your Daughter's wedding day.

This is Galway - they need all the help they can get when it comes to not raining.
posted by Sk4n at 5:36 AM on November 19, 2007


I think the answer is that digging a hole in the front yard to bury the St. Joseph serves to aerate the soil; the garden therefore grows more lush and colourful, which is is what sells the house.
I'd be interested in seeing some double blind control tests run, with holes dug but no statue buried; with holes dug and a steel or copper rod buried; and perhaps with nothing dug or buried at all.
posted by Flashman at 5:45 AM on November 19, 2007


If it does work, it's occult. Superstition, whatever, it isn't a Christian practice. This is sad.
posted by konolia at 6:08 AM on November 19, 2007


Yes. Everybody knows that only Jesus can turn turn property into gold.
posted by dreamsign at 6:37 AM on November 19, 2007


Yes. Everybody knows that only Jesus can turn turn property into gold.

this statement reveals a yawning chasm of ignorance on the part of the commenter.
posted by quonsar at 6:48 AM on November 19, 2007


If it does work, it's occult. Superstition, whatever, it isn't a Christian practice. This is sad.

no, it's cute
posted by caddis at 7:12 AM on November 19, 2007 [1 favorite]


Whatever, q-man. Christian is as Christian does.

I was rather disappointed, upon some more extensive travels in SEA this last year, to find a lot of Buddhism, in practice, to be infested with base superstition, too. Visit a shrine to find... dozens of people making offerings in the form reputed to best draw a boon from this particular icon (note: not this particular iconography, but this very statue): two coconuts, two petal garlands, two candies, two coins. Get it wrong, and you can kiss your wish goodbye. Some of the most lovely pictures I got were from scenes like this, but the practice...

Of course, I'm sure many would hasten to say "That's not Buddhism" and to an extent they'd be right. But the extent to which this kind of superstition is rife among practitioners can't be said to be wholly separate from the religion as it exists. Religion isn't a bunch of books completely separate from what is being done in its name.

But then that's a tad longer than my original comment.

In any case, I just think it's funny when a believer in one kind of magic calls another magical belief a superstition, hence my comment.

Anything of substance to offer, yourself, quonsar, or only candies, petals and snark?
posted by dreamsign at 7:17 AM on November 19, 2007


Just to add: obviously in this case we're talking superstition without any real attachment to religion -- we have nonreligious people, people of other faiths, and Christians, all resorting to this "tactic". But my mirth at a Christian referring to this as a superstition remains.
posted by dreamsign at 7:22 AM on November 19, 2007


This is sad.

An it harm none...
posted by John Kenneth Fisher at 8:02 AM on November 19, 2007


Yup, losties are St. Anthony. You have to say,

"Tony, Tony, look around,

Something's lost, and can't be found,..."


and then you have to make up a couplet specific to the item you're hunting. Never fails.
posted by cookie-k at 8:23 AM on November 19, 2007


It's like throwing salt over your shoulder when you spill it. Pointless, but who does it hurt?

How about the guy looking over your shoulder?

Everybody knows that only Jesus Tom Vu can turn property into gold.

Fixed that for you.
posted by Horace Rumpole at 8:29 AM on November 19, 2007


snark?

careful dreamsign, you're taking the name of my god in vain there.
posted by quonsar at 8:38 AM on November 19, 2007


This is neither idolatry nor paganism, and those are both slurs that have been directed at the Catholic church for centuries by Puritans and fundamentalists.

Yeah you're right, burying an idol in your front yard to bring monetary gain isn't idolatry at all.
posted by bradbane at 9:14 AM on November 19, 2007


It's like throwing salt over your shoulder when you spill it. Pointless, but who does it hurt?

That's why I buried several bags of salt in the garden prior to putting my house up for sale. What could it hurt?
posted by stet at 9:16 AM on November 19, 2007 [1 favorite]


Have you tried throwing a statue of St. Joseph over your shoulder?
posted by sebastienbailard at 9:45 AM on November 19, 2007


As if this Jesus fella, whether begged directly or through a little statue of a dead guy who by primitive tradition specializes in such complaints, would give two shits about what happens in the American housing market when the nohousing market continues to grow. He'd flip off the flippers.
posted by pracowity at 9:51 AM on November 19, 2007


If, however, you're on the lookout for some quality footwear, it might help to bury a statue of St. Hubbins.
posted by Man-Thing at 10:56 AM on November 19, 2007 [1 favorite]


Though I've always preferred St. Jude (patron saint of lost causes.)

As a non-Catholic, I remember being mystified as a kid reading column after column of anonymous messages in the classifieds, all reading "Thank you St. Jude for favors granted." I had no idea what a novena was, but I sure saw the word a lot in the back of the newspaper.
posted by Spatch at 11:00 AM on November 19, 2007


If it does work, it's occult. Superstition, whatever, it isn't a Christian practice.

Because people who believe in magic just hate competition.

see also: Harry Potter, Dungeons and Dragons, Scientology, etc.
posted by joe lisboa at 11:10 AM on November 19, 2007 [1 favorite]


I bought a house recently and can't figure out why people keep knocking on the door asking if the house is for sale. Now I gotta dig up the front lawn! Don't these icons come with directions: "Remove after sale"
posted by Gungho at 12:26 PM on November 19, 2007


(giggle)
posted by Flashman at 1:29 PM on November 19, 2007


American "christianity" seems to be less about actual Christianity and more like a syncretic folk-tradition which just happens to use Christian symbols and names. Kind of like voodoo, only far less coherent.

you're confusing christianity with catholicism - and voodoo is more coherent because it's based on more recent folk traditions than those represented by catholic saints

If it does work, it's occult. Superstition, whatever, it isn't a Christian practice. This is sad.

konolia, how is it any sadder than protestants praying directly to god for their house to be sold? - and please don't tell me they don't

one of the things about catholicism people often fail to understand is that the saints are not being "prayed to" or "worshipped" - they are being asked to advocate the person's request to god - or asked to help with the power god has blessed them with - and yes, burying a st joseph statue in a yard can be considered a form of prayer by those who are devout - but there is NOTHING occult about it as the saints can do NOTHING that is not authorized by god

from the catechism of the church -

2683 The witnesses who have preceded us into the Kingdom (Heb 12:1), especially those whom the Church recognizes as saints, share in the living tradition of prayer by the example of their lives, the transmission of their writings, and their prayer today. They contemplate God, praise him and constantly care for those whom they have left on earth. When they entered into the joy of their Master , they were "put in charge of many things." (Mt 25:21) Their intercession is their most exalted service to God's plan. We can and should ask them to intercede for us and for the whole world.

so you see, it is NOT occult - no powers are called upon except those that come from god

as for myself, i don't believe i should pray for such things or that the idea of intercession by the saints makes much sense - but you only call it occult because you have no real understanding of the tradition
posted by pyramid termite at 5:34 PM on November 19, 2007


It's like throwing salt over your shoulder when you spill it. Pointless, but who does it hurt?

The person who has to clean up the salt?
posted by davejay at 5:56 PM on November 19, 2007


You see PT, the Baptists think of the Catholic Church as just one of the bigger cults - only they know the true way, and then the Catholic Church similarly dismisses the Baptists. It reminds me of this joke,
I was walking across a bridge one day, and I saw a man standing on the edge, about to jump. I ran over and said: "Stop. Don't do it."

"Why shouldn't I?" he asked.

"Well, there's so much to live for!"

"Like what?"

"Are you religious?"

He said, "Yes."

I said, "Me too. Are you Christian or Buddhist?"

"Christian."

"Me too. Are you Catholic or Protestant?"

"Protestant."

"Me too. Are you Episcopalian or Baptist?"

"Baptist."

"Wow. Me too. Are you Baptist Church of God or Baptist Church of the Lord?"

"Baptist Church of God."

"Me too. Are you original Baptist Church of God, or are you Reformed Baptist Church of God?"

"Reformed Baptist Church of God."

"Me too. Are you Reformed Baptist Church of God, Reformation of 1879, or Reformed Baptist Church of God, Reformation of 1915?"

He said: "Reformed Baptist Church of God, Reformation of 1915."

I said: "Die, heretic scum," and pushed him off.
posted by caddis at 6:03 PM on November 19, 2007


My parents actually did this when selling their last house. I'd never heard of it before.

Oddly enough, the gay dudes that got evicted from the apartment I live in now had a St Joseph statue that is now my rear doorstop. I'm not sure what use they had for it.
posted by TrialByMedia at 8:31 PM on November 19, 2007


American "christianity" seems to be less about actual Christianity and more like a syncretic folk-tradition which just happens to use Christian symbols and names. Kind of like voodoo, only far less coherent.

you're confusing christianity with catholicism


That's interesting. Raised RC, I'm somewhat baffled by a lot of the attitudes of "mainstream" Christianity. Can you offer up any examples of how non-RC Christianity is in any way less superstitious? I get the reference to saints. Their "use" often smacks of idolatry. But do non-RC Christians not make use of the saints in that way? Do most Christians not pray for "stuff"? (I was always taught that it was a sin to pray for any kind of personal gain, but I found to my continual surprise growing up what a tiny minority I was in on that point).

Very curious about that.

And sorry, q, if I misread you here.
posted by dreamsign at 8:59 PM on November 19, 2007


"The gay dudes that got evicted from the apartment I live in now had a St Joseph statue that is now my rear doorstop"

I'm thinkin' that you might wanna re-read the user's manual there, TrialByMedia.
posted by PareidoliaticBoy at 9:08 PM on November 19, 2007


do non-RC Christians not make use of the saints in that way?

no, they don't
posted by caddis at 1:47 AM on November 20, 2007


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