Looking for Divine Intervention

From the Wall Street Journal:

Tammy Winfield made every effort to depersonalize her home and keep it free of clutter. She even baked cookies before prospective buyers came in for a look, hoping that the homey scents would help persuade them to make an offer.

Still, the Truckee, Calif., home that she and her husband, Bill, put on the market in September sat for months without any takers.

“We were getting a lot of showings, but not many offers,” she said.

Then, in February, they took some home-selling advice — and a leap of faith.

At the suggestion of their Realtor, Brandi Benson, they brought in a stager who refocused the home using the concepts of feng shui. Tammy Winfield also addressed the reasons why she was having a tough time detaching from the home, possibly causing buyers to stay away.

And then there was the little matter of burying a statue of St. Joseph in the yard, a ritual she learned about from her Catholic friends.

The couple closed on the sale of their home in March.

These unconventional tactics can be last resorts for desperate home sellers willing to try anything for an offer. And if a buyer materializes soon after, sellers are certainly less willing to dismiss the techniques as superstitious hooey.

One or more of the following strategies may have been the Winfield’s ticket to a sale — that is, if you believe in such things


The act of burying a statue of a saint for a home sale can easily be viewed as superstition.

But for Stephen Binz, another home seller who struggled to get an offer, the ritual became more of a prayer. Binz is the author of “St. Joseph, My Real Estate Agent: Why the Patron Saint of Home Life is the Patron Saint of Home-Selling.” He spends the first chapter of the book explaining how the process helped him, and focuses the book on how the saint can be an inspiration to those in the transitional process of moving.

“If a person believes that by saying certain words or performing a certain action something is going to occur, that’s superstition,” he said. “But appealing to a saint is an act of devotion.”

Seven days after he buried the statue as directed — upside down in the yard — he had an offer.
After the home is sold, the statue is supposed to reside in a place of honor in the seller’s new home. At the Winfields’ new home, St. Joseph sits in the kitchen window.

While to some this process may seem a far-fetched idea, there might not be as many doubting Thomases out there as one might think.

According to Phil Cates, owner of the online retailer, sales of figurine kits have risen about 100% every year since 2004. For $9.95, the statue comes with a burial bag and an instructional booklet, all packaged in a cotton tote bag with a logo of St. Joseph on it, Cates said.

Now, I don’t know if burying a statue of Saint Joseph in the front yard will help move a house any more than reasonable upgrades, good staging, and competitive pricing, but in today’s market, it certainly can’t hurt!


We’d love to be your Atlanta closing attorneys. Want to know more? Contact us and we’ll be happy to discuss how Harlan and Associates can be of service to you!

Saint Joseph’s Oratory: Statue, originally uploaded by brynalam.

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