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PHIL HARDWICK — The last resort for homes that won’t sell



The Smiths home had been on the market a long time. It was a beautiful property priced right, but it just seemed that it would not sell. The Smiths were desperate. Finally, they dug a hole in the front yard, planted an item and said a prayer. Their property sold the next week.

The dream of just about every seller of real estate is to sell the property for the listed price within twenty-four hours of it being listed. Every seller wants to get top dollar for their real estate. After that desire comes the wish to sell the property fast. Some markets are so hot that listing agents have prospective buyers already signed up before the agents even get certain listings. Then there are markets where properties are on the market for months at a time. Sellers in such situations may want to investigate the possibility of turning to St. Joseph, patron saint of home life.

What is a patron saint? And anyway, who is St. Joseph?

This inquiring mind went straight to the catholic.org website to learn more. According the website, patron saints are chosen as special protectors or guardians over areas of life. These areas can include occupations, illnesses, churches, countries, causes — anything that is important to people. Although, popes have named patron saints, patrons can be chosen by other individuals or groups as well. Usually, patron saints are chosen by individuals because an interest, talent, or event in their lives aligns with the special area. For example, many people who travel often wear a St. Christopher medal because he is the patron saint of travelers.

Why is St. Joseph the patron saint of real estate? Well, the reasoning goes that because St. Joseph was a carpenter, he was also a homebuilder, i.e., he worked on homes. He also taught his son Jesus the carpentering trade. He was also noted for his willingness to do what God told him. He also was noted for acting fast, such as when he was told to immediately flee to Egypt. As one might imagine, Joseph is the patron saint of a lot of things, from fathers to the diocese of Biloxi, Mississippi. Yes, many cities and states have patron saints. Mary is the patron saint of Mississippi.

There is even a book, ST. JOSEPH, MY REAL ESTATE AGENT – Why the Patron Saint of Home Life Is the Patron Saint of Home-Selling by Stephen J. Binz (Servant Books), that discusses the use of St. Joseph to sell one’s home. “Hundreds of thousands of people, including the author, have sold their homes under the patronage of St. Joseph, whose intercession they sought after burying his statue in their yard,” according to the promotional material. Buyers can get the book and the statuette as part of the kit version.So, does this practice of burying St. Joseph in one’s front yard really work. Far be it from me to say for certain. Several years ago when I wrote a column on this subject I received several letters from people who swear by the practice. One woman told me that her house had been on the market for months with no results. The day after she buried a St. Joseph statuette, she received an offer. I also received a letter from another woman who said that it was the silliest thing she had ever heard, and she told her husband what he could do with the statuette when he suggested that they try using it to sell their house. The Internet is filled with testimonials and articles pro and con on the practice. Another Internet resource is www.snopes.com/luck/stjoseph.asp, which lists this subject. Interestingly, it does not confirm or debunk this “urban legend,” but offers anecdotal stories and opinions. Like all matters of faith, it about belief and prayer. One source said that the praying is more important than the use of the statuette.

Whatever one might believe regarding this practice it probably would not hurt to follow the advice of most real estate agents when they recommend that it is also a good idea to price your property competitively, market it properly and keep it ready for prospective buyers to inspect it on a moment’s notice. Amen.

» Phil Hardwick is a regular Mississippi Business Journal columnist and owner of Hardwick & Associates, LLC, which provides strategic planning facilitation and leadership training services. His email is phil@philhardwick. com and he’s on the web at www.philhardwick.com.


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One comment

  1. Is St Joseph also the patron saint of Commercial Real Estate or just Residential?

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