Many people believe that burying a statue of St. Joseph upside-down in the yard will help them sell a house. Some swear it works and have the anecdotal evidence to prove it. Is this evidence of the supernatural at work or merely superstition? Each to his own, I suppose.

The saint of real estate? Believe it

Al Lewis


My mother-in-law flew in from New York and rode down to Colorado Springs where I had just put an investment property up for sale.

She dug a hole in the front yard, buried a statue of St. Joseph upside down, and said a prayer. She told me this Catholic ritual would yield a quick sale. It sounded ridiculous. "You're not even Catholic," I reminded her. "You're Jewish."

Apparently, this does not matter to St. Joe, husband of Mary and stepfather to Jesus, said Richard Weigang, owner of the Catholic Store on South Broadway in Englewood. Weigang sells more than 100 St. Joseph statues a month.

"Catholics, Jewish people, Protestants, atheists - everybody does this," he said. "Realtors come in and buy tons of them. ... They ask (St. Joe) for his intercession to invoke God's mercy and get his top dollar. I always joke, 'You'll get an extra $10,000 of equity for every foot of statue you buy."

Weigang said he has visions of selling giant St. Joes that require backhoes and cranes to bury. But he typically sells them in the $5 to $15 range. He also has plenty of competition. Even the South Metro Denver Realtors Association sells St. Joes to its members.

"It's one of our best-selling items," said Steve Olson, president of the group. "People swear by them. And customers ... usually buy more than one. The last person bought five."

That would be Jo Pellegrino-Ellis of Advance Property Sales. She is Catholic and also named Jo. "He is my patron saint," she said. "And this is a tough market."

But does it work? Jean Stevens of Prestige Real Estate Group told me she took on clients in a neighborhood that had no sales from April through August.

"My folks got a little desperate," she said. "They buried four of them in their yard and within two weeks they had three offers. ... They were not Catholic. They were just trying to do anything they could to get their home sold. ... A little faith goes a long way."

Gabrielle Knox, a broker who sells homes in Highlands Ranch, said she recently had two reasonably priced, attractive homes that weren't moving. "We were pulling our hair out and asking, 'Why is this not selling?"' she said.

Knox's clients then buried St. Joes in their yards. "It's one of those things that you don't think about until you're desperate," she said. "It sounds so hokey."

O ye of little faith! Knox said one of these difficult listings sold within a week and the other within two. "I should have a whole collection of these (statues) ready for every listing." Knox said.

St. Joe, however, doesn't always work miracles. Michelle Head has been trying to sell her home in the Tallyns Reach neighborhood of East Arapahoe County over the past two summers.

"I have two in my yard," she said. "I've used it once before and sold my home in 30 days."

Now she's in a tough part of town with a lot of new construction and too many foreclosures. But Head isn't losing faith.

"I think the higher powers are not wanting me to go anywhere," she said. "I view it as a sign."

Weigang of the Catholic Store cheerfully offered this advice: "Maybe she should get a bigger statue."

Jennifer Smith is also having trouble selling her home in the Saddle Rock neighborhood of East Arapahoe County.

She moved there because her son attended Regis Jesuit High School. Since May she's had her five-bedroom home on the market for $385,000.

"I have had a lot of showings," she said. "I just haven't had any offers."

So she buried a St. Joe. "I haven't had one showing since," she said, "and it's been three weeks. ... I hear about people who ... have all this success and they are not even Catholic. I am Catholic. ... But obviously he's not happy in my yard."

Maybe it's a test of faith. All I know is that there were a lot of houses for sale on my street. And within days after my Jewish mother-in-law buried this Catholic statue, I received a noncontingency offer at about my asking price.

I sold the home on Aug. 31.

Maybe it was a miracle, or maybe my asking price was too low. I don't know.

All I can say is thank you, God.

Oh, and thanks for putting in a good word for me, St. Joe.

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