Slow Housing Market Boosts Stock in St. Joseph, Study Says

St Joseph
FlickrSt. Joseph figurine sales skyrocketed between 2009 and 2010.

By Emily Heffter

The Internet is full of tips on how to sell your home, but when the market is down, sellers start reaching beyond the Internet. Way beyond. You know, into The Great Beyond. Per Catholic tradition, St. Joseph, the patron saint of home and family, can help you in real estate.

The thing to do is to pray while you bury his statuette, upside down, near the for-sale sign on the property you're trying to sell. (Amazon will sell you a whole St. Joseph Home Selling Kit for less than $10. Not included: garden spade.)

Now the Wall Street Journal has crunched data that verifies what many in the real estate community already knew anecdotally: When the housing market slows down, sales of Saint Joseph statuettes go through the roof. Ardell DellaLoggia of Sound Realty in the Seattle area, remembers seeing cases of the little statues under agents' desks in down years. As a Catholic, she's been known to bury them with or without the seller's permission.

"Sometimes the seller asks me to do it, but they don't participate because they don't believe in it, and it's bad juju," she said. "It's like a seance or something, like a Ouiji board, right?" When they really need to sell, she said, she's seen atheists try it.

According to the Journal, between 2009 and 2010, when home prices were stagnant, sales of St. Joseph figurines more than doubled at Catholic Supply of St. Louis, Inc. When prices rose, sales declined.

As the housing market recovers, more home-sellers are going it alone: In 2013, St. Joseph figurine statues fell 10.6 percent from the year prior. But DellaLoggia thinks there is still a place for St. Joseph in a hot market. She has a current client competing among multiple offers on a home in Seattle. It might give her client the edge if she pays the property a visit and tucks a St. Joseph statue under the grass in the front lawn, she said.

"I have a spot in mind," she mused.

After all, the tradition likely started with buyers, not sellers: Nuns during the Middle Ages buried St. Joseph medals on land they hoped to get for a convent.

More from Zillow about home-selling:
Tips For Buyers In a Sellers Market
How to Fix Squeaky Doors and Floors
30-Year Fixed Mortgage Rates Decline Slightly