I’ve noticed a strange behavior in buyers recently. It has taken a while to understand why buyers feel a strange compulsion to buy a property that doesn’t meet any of their stated criteria.
Of course all the smart buyers that I meet have written down the specifics of their ideal home: size, number of bedrooms, baths, pet needs, etc. They carry it as a checklist when visiting open houses. One by one, they note the plus & minus for each feature and tally the final score. Smart shopping!
And yet there are fantastic lapses. A home fails in almost every category and the buyer is transfixed. I can see her salivating- she wants this property! What has happened? This happens frequently and is often the cause of family disputes. Fully rational people suddenly crave a house that can’t possibly serve them well!
The other day, at just such a house with an overeager buyer, I stumbled as I passed the ‘for sale’ sign in front. I do that sometimes and didn’t give it much thought until I stumbled at the same spot when leaving the house. Darned if there wasn’t a lump in the lawn, a break in the turf.
Perhaps a dog or a vandal had damaged the lawn. It looked like it would be easy to fix by patting down the grass. I got down to look at it and, ‘oh is that a bone?’; I grabbed it and pulled out a small plastic statue. Odd. I patted down the turf and tossed the statue up near the front door and almost forgot the matter. The buyer and I were both strangely calmed afterward.
But soon after I came across an odd bit of news at CNN.com. It seems that people are burying statues of Saint Joseph to help sell homes.
Hundreds of thousands of these statues are buried around homes all over the US and Europe. CNN says;
“According to the tradition, burying St. Joseph began hundreds of years ago in Europe. St. Teresa of Avila, a nun in the 16th century, buried a medal of the saint and prayed to St. Joseph to help secure land for a convent. The ritual is said to have worked, and so the trend of burying St. Joseph has caught on.”
Well of course I scoffed at the idea. Superstitious hocus-pocus! But just to be sure I went to Wikipedia and got this dose of reality;
“Burying a small statute of Saint Joseph on a piece of real estate for sale is reputed to enlist the saint’s assistance in finding a buyer. Some versions require the statue to be buried upside down. Some believe that the saint’s statue should be disinterred once the house sells, to avoid the property repeatedly changing hands; others leave the buried statue in hopes that Saint Joseph will continue to protect the property.“
Despite the misspelling, this news from the Wiki came complete with a picture of the Holy Family which was pretty convincing. I decided to look further and discovered more testimony to the power of a St. Joe statue including this from the respected Catholic Chronicle;
“Though it can easily become an act of superstition, the practice can also be a true appeal in faith to the intercession of St. Joseph, says Father Marvin Borger, vicar general and chancellor of the Diocese of Toledo.”
Who would have guessed that Jesus’ stepfather had such power after thousands of years in his grave?
A Method to the Madness
Well, so far it seems a simple matter to brainwash a buyer into coughing up money for your property. But wait, can it really be that simple?
Uh, uh, Chucko. You’ve got to follow the ritual impeccably.
Nearly everyone seems to agree that the good saint is to be buried upside-down. Here is one early reference; “i have ads in 1930s hoodoo spiritual supply catalogues that offer a tiny statue of Saint Joseph in a case made to carry him upside down.” It seems rude to bury the good man at all, much less in an uncomfortable inverted position.
But the rules vary from that point. Where and how to bury the plastic figure is precisely stated by a number of experts who widely disagree. Can you use a flower pot? Front or back yard? Or near the ‘For Sale’ sign? What direction should Joe face? Continuing the search we find a Snopes excerpt to demonstrate the difficulty of finding unambiguous instruction:
- Upside down, near the ‘For Sale’ sign in the front yard. (An upside down St. Joseph is said to work extra hard to get out of the ground and onto someone’s mantle.)
- Right side up.
- In the rear yard, possibly in a flower bed.
- Lying on its back and pointing towards the house “like an arrow.”
- Three feet from the rear of the house.
- Facing the house.
- Facing away from the house. (One who tried this reported the house across the street sold, and it hadn’t even been up for sale.)
- Exactly 12 inches deep.
Snopes.com is nobody’s fool when it comes to ritual and they understand the importance of precisely following the proven formula. This demonstrates the difficulty of getting it right and yet someone must be doing it right.
Somebody wins, somebody loses
There are scores of testimonies on the internet from people who say this worked for them. Google them and you will find heartwarming stories of junk real estate dumped upon unsuspecting buyers who were helpless in the spell of St. Joe. But what about the other side of the story? What about the poor buyer who will pay and pay for that roach infested shack for decades to come?
Scandal is not entirely new to real estate transactions, but ask yourself if this is good for the economy, good for the industry, and good for honest buyers who just want to find a desperate seller? Does the Saint Joseph technology not cry out for protective legislation?
What defense can you employ against this insidious brainwashing? Nobody on the ‘net recognizes the problem much less offers an answer. I hesitate to suggest such a dramatic defense but it’s all I can think of…
Hire a person to guide you through your house hunting. A person who isn’t influenced by this Christian voodoo. Perhaps you know a Hindu or Atheist or a Devil Worshiper who is kind enough to walk you through the jungle of hypnotic homes that slip unnoticed into your good Christian mind and lead you astray.
Someday a nice logical robot will serve as your agent. Your robot will not be influenced by the guile of religious influence, the trickery of mortgage lenders and the outrageous assertions of robotic seller agents. Until then go with God, but look out for St. Joe!