Q: Does burying a statue of St. Joseph in your front yard really help in getting your house sold?

A: As I see it, this is one of those Catch-22-type questions. If I tell you that I think the statue-burying rigmarole is ridiculous, and you don’t do it, and your house doesn’t sell, you’ll be upset and always wonder whether it would have sold if you’d just buried the statue.

If I tell you I absolutely believe in this age-old custom, and you do it, and your house still doesn’t sell, you’ll be upset.

Lest others read this and wonder what on earth your question is about, I should point out that many thousands of home sellers and their brokers and agents believe steadfastly that burying a small statue of St. Joseph — Jesus’ father and the Catholic saint of home and family — in the yard of a hard-to-sell property is a surefire strategy for getting the home off the market. (It should be noted, too, that some view the practice as sacrilegious or purely superstitious.) 

The burial routine that’s supposed to be followed has a multitude of variations. I’ve heard people say it doesn’t work unless you bury Joseph upside down in the front yard, or precisely 12 inches below the surface, or by the for-sale sign, or facing the house, or facing away from the house.

And while I am a devoutly religious person, myself, I suspect that your best bet, if you’re even thinking about burying a statuette, is to just do it (if for no other reason than to avoid regretting that you didn’t do it) — but not to stop there.

My educated opinion on the matter is that the best practice for using a St. Joseph’s statue to get your home sold is to combine it with a purge of all clutter from your home, a detailed home-staging exercise (including a big effort around creating curb appeal and refreshing the inside — from paint to flooring) and — most important, a list-price reduction, if your home has been on the market for awhile, with no bites.

This is likely not what you really wanted to hear, but I have seen, time and time again, a price reduction (or several) precipitate the end result of a lagging home finally selling — even without burying Joseph in the yard.

I am not a superstitious person, but I do strongly believe that God helps those who help themselves. When it comes to selling homes, I have seen that many sellers, by the time they are motivated or even desperate enough to buy and bury a statue, are also motivated enough to reduce the price, uplevel their home’s aesthetics, and correct the other issues that were keeping buyers from biting.

Some will say that it is these other changes that St. Joseph-burying sellers tend to make at or near the same time as they put the statue in the ground that actually caused the house to move — not the statue itself. But, I say, if you want or need to bury a statue for peace of mind, go for it — it probably can’t hurt. Just don’t neglect what we know works — and that’s staging, primping and price-cutting.

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