On December 30th, 2008 I listed my duplex in Cape May for sale. I knew the market was tight, and money was hard to come by. The nation – indeed the world – was approaching its third mouth of unprecedented downturns, bankruptcies, bailouts and foreclosures. Real estate had been in free fall for years. Since October we have seen a simultaneous contraction of all investment markets: Gold, the euro, mutual funds, stocks, everything! For many years I had made money by betting against prevailing trends. When money poured into the stock market (driven by the dot.com delusions) in the late 1990’s, I bought real estate. By 2005, when anyone with $300, a lawyer and a hammer could form an LLC and become a builder, I invested in global funds. When I didn’t have a clue what was going on, I turned to bourbon and CD’s (the money kind). Park your money there for a while, have a drink and wait for the dust to settle.
Still, in the mist of a decidedly bear housing market, I was trying to sell my old house in Cape May. For many years a family member had lived there, and when it became vacant the house was beat and needed a lot of work. I had to move on. I was confident it would sell. I had a secret advantage that I am about to share with you. I bought a “Saint Joseph’s Home Seller’s Kit.” For as little as $3.49, you can hire the “hardest working Saint in Real Estate.” Complete with a Saint Joseph statue, a color prayer card and instructions on how to use them both; the kit is also available in Spanish. If only indulgences could be bought so cheaply.
Ever since Saint Teresa of Avila prayed that Saint Joseph would intercede to obtain land for Christian converts, real estate lore abounds with stories attesting to the remarkable skills of Saint Joseph the Carpenter when it comes to selling homes. This was not the first time I had asked his intercession.
In 2006, when I listed my daughter’s house in Bayside Village, she buried a Saint Joseph statue there alongside the petunias. Her home sold in 82 days. In 2008 she lent her statue to a sister-in-law trying to sell her house in Villas, NJ. Bad move. The house did not sell. Saint Joseph statue legend says that once a Saint Joseph statue has been used to sell a home, it should proceed with the sellers to their new home, where it should be prominently displayed. For this reason one should avoid the biodegradable Saint Joseph statue at all costs. At the least, the statue should be “retired.” Each sale situation is unique, and a new statue should be entrusted with any future business. Saint Joseph had a good union, and this is one way to keep statue sales up! Since the sister-in-law did not list with me, I blamed the realtor. I wanted to stay on Saint Joseph’s good side!
My hands shook when my kit arrived in the mail. Of course it was less than 20 degrees outside that day! Since the ground was frozen I had plenty of time to read the instructions, and plan my strategy. I got a little confused when I read the instructions for burial of the statue. Apparently, there is no “one way” to use the Saint Joseph statue, and there exists a lot of latitude for the user. Suggested options include: Bury the statue upside down next to the “for sale” sign, bury it 3 feet from the rear of the house, “simply” place it somewhere on the property, bury it next to the street facing the home, bury it next to the front door facing away from the home, bury it in the front yard, and bury it 8” to 12” deep. If the Catholic Church had been this accommodating centuries ago, there might not have been a Protestant Reformation. There were no instructions for selling a high-rise condo. The kit does not include a flower pot or planter. By the end of January, the ground had thawed enough for me to actually bury the statue. I buried Saint Joseph upside down, facing away from the home, in the front of the property. I asked a friend of mine to join me in prayer. He demurred and shouted obscenities at me while I prayed. Within three weeks, I had gotten two offers. I accepted the second.
Part 1 of 2. To Be Continued Next Month!
ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN CAPE MAY MAGAZINE, 2009
Broker Sales Associate
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