Saturday, August 20, 2011

Retirement Downsizing- St. Joseph the Realtor

Those of you who follow me on other on-line fora will know by now that the deal to sell my house has fallen apart. Not one to be deterred by a bump in the road, I’m taking action to find another, better buyer. To wit, we are taking the first price markdown next week, and I’ve just come in from burying a statue of St. Joseph in my front yard.

A few of you out there look perplexed. Let me explain. There is a long standing (sub)urban myth that burying St. Joseph upside down in your yard will help you sell your house. It’s unclear why he must be upside down. Is he really likely to wander off (under ground) if upright?

I considered burying him sideways, like a ship in a bottle, but in an empty Pinot Noir. I guess the notion of “sideways” reminded me of the terrific movie of that title, the one that had a stream of Pinot running through it.

You probably think of St. Joseph as Jesus’s carpenter father. Or perhaps as the inventor of children’s aspirin. It’s unclear how he came by his role as real estate sales facilitator. It was probably some extension of carpentry and building.

This of course makes me wonder if he is as effective selling brick houses as wood ones. Fortunately for me, my home is good old New England clapboard. (It’s pronounced “clabberd” up here, by the way, not “clap-board.” True New Englanders also spell the old nursery rhyme mother “Hupboard.”)

Another possibility for how St. Joe got into real estate sales is that it’s one big headache, especially for the seller. Before Excedrin, aspirin would have been the drug of choice to deal with this. Today, there’s Vicodin, but I don’t think it has a saint endorsing it yet.

However it came about, the notion of burying St. Joseph upside down has so many proponents that you can buy little kits, complete with instructions. Mine came courtesy of my Realtor. Here’s what I learned from the material that was included.

There are several acceptable places to bury the statue. These include by your doorstep (facing away), near the street (facing the house) and by the Realtor’s sign (no advice re which way to face; read into that what you will.) I’ve opted for the doorstep approach. It will be easier to tell if the squirrels have dug it up, mistaking it for a plant bulb.

The advice is clear as to the depth to bury it—8 inches, not 3 feet. No arguments from me on that. I have trouble getting to one foot when I’m gardening. These and several other tidbits are bulleted neatly on the back of the instruction card.

Below the bullets, there’s a paragraph that advises that St. Joseph’s power lies in the prayers you say to him and how faithful you are in your devotion. (A separate prayer card is provided.) I had been wondering how the Catholic Church could countenance this practice, but the focus on the prayers answered that.

Next is the sentence that makes me sit up physical-therapy-straight and take notice. “You can also increase your chance of selling your home by making sure it is in good condition and by asking a realistic price.” Spoken like a true Realtor. Then I notice that the section with the bullet points is titled “How-To-Myths” while the paragraph below them is titled “The Truth.” This must be the liability disclaimer. I can hear it now:

“I buried the statue and nothing happened. I want my money back.”
“Did you pray daily?”
“Well, not exactly…”
“Um hmmm. And was your home in good condition and did you price it realistically?”

“Let’s put it this way. It never looked as good as when I first put it on the market. And the price seemed realistic when my Realtor and I first sat down with comps.”
“And what about three weeks later, when the stock market tanked and Congress went home for Summer recess?”

“Yeah, well, maybe you have a point.”
“You might want to try burying two more statues of St. Joseph in the other locations we suggested. We have a buy-one-get-one-half-off promotion going on now.”
“Won’t that give him an identity crisis?”
“Not if you pray at each statue individually…”

And that, dear readers, is why I put one of my bottles of Pinot Grigio into the fridge before I started writing this. It just so happens that I had two of them in my wine cupboard—one for each of the promotional St. Joes. The Lord does indeed work in strange ways…

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