House For Sale / The Power Of Positive Thinking

Modern-day urban myth dictates that if you bury a plastic statue of Saint Joseph upside down in your yard, your home will sell very quickly.

September 29, 2015 | | Blogs | Community | Leisure | Two Blue Boots

Our house is for sale. Darrel and I have enjoyed our home for over ten years, but it is time to downsize – just a little. The teenagers that moved into this home, along with us, grew up to be fine men and moved out. Now, we have too many empty rooms, too much acreage, and too many hired hands doing the work Darrel and I don’t have the time to do. It doesn’t make any logical sense to stay here any longer.

Will we miss this place? Of course we will. This home and property have served us well over the years. We’ve enjoyed mini-boat races on the little river that meanders through our property. We’ve hosted many parties and events, bonfires and BBQs. Two pets that we “loved and lost” are buried here. A lot of living and laughter have filled this home over the years. Despite all the memories, we are ready to embrace a new chapter in our lives.

Are we moving to town? No sireeee! We are country folks at heart and we will be staying in the same area, continuing to enjoy all that rural life has to offer. The real estate sign is on the lawn. The house has been readied for potential buyers. We are all set to go – with the exception of one small detail. We can’t find a St. Joseph statue!

For those of you who are unaware of this important tradition, Saint Joseph has long been considered to be the “Patron Saint of Real Estate.” Hopeful home sellers, regardless of religious affiliation, believe in the magical qualities of this little statue. There are several theories as to how this ritual came to be. The original idea was that St. Joseph was a talented carpenter and therefore held some special powers. Some claim the practice was originated with German carpenters who buried the little statues of St. Joseph in the foundations of houses they built. Others say the custom began in the Middle Ages, when an order of European nuns buried a medal of St. Joseph in the hope the Saint would help them to establish a convent.

Saint Joseph has long been considered to be the “Patron Saint of Real Estate.”

Saint Joseph has long been considered to be the “Patron Saint of Real Estate.”

Regardless of which Saint Joseph story you choose to believe, modern-day urban myth dictates that if you bury a plastic statue of Saint Joseph upside down in your yard, your home will sell very quickly. In the 1990s, this custom caught fire! Realtors were buying the little plastic statues by the caseload. Home buyers bought into the idea and were astounded by how quickly their homes sold. The reason for the upside-down burial is because Joseph will “work extra hard to get out of the ground and onto someone’s mantel”.

Over the years, there has been growing confusion as to the correct location and position of this helpful little statue. Some folks believe St. Joseph should be buried upside down and facing the road in front of the house. It is also preferable to place the statue near the For Sale sign. Some insist that the statue be buried exactly 12 inches deep.  Others believe that the statue should be buried right side up. Some believe it should be buried in a flower bed. Some people insist it should be facing away from the house or lying on its back and pointing like an arrow.

There is a rumour about an impatient home seller who moved his statue to several different places in the yard. Finally, in disgust and disbelief, he tossed the statue into the garbage. Imagine his surprise when he opened the local newspaper a few days later and read the headline, “Local Dump Has Been Sold”!

Now that I’ve explained the importance of the St. Joseph statue, we shall return to my dilemma. I do not have a statue of this famous saint to bury in my lawn. Several years ago, I purchased one in Lilydale, N.Y.  True to tradition, I buried him in the grass, and sure enough we were very fortunate to sell our Mansfield home. I gave him to my parents, and once again St. Joseph worked his magic and attracted buyers to their home in Collingwood. My parents donated this enchanted statue to their friends, who, in turn, forwarded it to their friends, etc., etc. My St. Joseph statue was never to be seen again… but I like to believe he is still out there somewhere, helping frustrated home owners sell their homes.

I have never been one to be easily defeated and I am certainly not one to follow rules. I decided that I had to come up with Plan B. I recalled telling a friend about St. Joseph when she was attempting to sell her home in Orangeville. We managed to find a figurine of a gnome who was talking on an old-fashioned telephone. We wondered if this would be an adequate substitute. Sure enough, several days after we buried the “Gnome on the Phone” in her front garden, her home was sold. I thought perhaps I could borrow her standby statuette but was saddened to hear that Mr. Gnome remains firmly buried in her former garden.

Frantically, I began to search for a similar (yet workable) statue. I wandered from room to room. I found a few unsuitable candidates. Mr. Pipe Smoker was too relaxed and didn’t appear to have the necessary work ethic. Mr. Dog Holder lacked positive energy. Suddenly, my eyes fell upon Mr. Hiker!  This little carved fellow has been living unhappily indoors for many years. As soon as I caught sight of his walking stick, his knapsack, and his jaunty hat, I knew I’d found my man. I snatched him from the shelf and hurried outdoors. I began to dig up the soil – but slowly realized that Mr. Hiker was not going to enjoy being buried upside down, 12 inches below the surface of the earth.

MrDogHolder MrPipeSmoker MrHiker
Mr. Hiker! As soon as I caught sight of his walking stick, his knapsack, and his jaunty hat, I knew I’d found my man.

And so, my little good-luck charm remains standing tall (all six inches of him) and proud, beckoning buyers to our home.

After all, it’s all about positive thinking, isn’t it?

About the Author More by Laurie May

Laurie teaches Grade 4 at Island Lake Public School in Orangeville and writes in her spare time. She lives in Mono and looks for the humour in everyday country life. Check out her blog “Two Blue Boots”.



  1. How I enjoy your stories! This one is particularly good for us since we are also considering a move and I knew nothing about burying a “saint” to make selling quicker. We have had our house assessed but have a considerable amount of fixing up and de-cluttering to do before we seriously approach the idea. Now I will be watching out for a suitable figurine to bury! Thank-you for another enjoyable story to read and the valuable information you provided! I am not sure where your next move will take you but I wish you much success and happiness in that next chapter. Gail

    Gail Smith on Sep 30, 2015 at 8:22 pm | Reply

    • Hi Gail: Thanks so much for taking the time to read this post and also for taking the time to comment. The de-cluttering and the completion of the repair list takes forever! I wish there was a little statue that could do all of the clean-up and finish up the To Do list. That would certainly be worthwhile! Good luck to you, as well!

      Laurie May on Sep 30, 2015 at 9:06 pm | Reply

  2. Laurie, we have sent you a SAINT (hope ours is the first that you get). By the way, the SAINT we have sent you is the boss of all SAINTS. Good Luck with him! Dad

    Larry Gee from Collingwood on Sep 29, 2015 at 9:00 pm | Reply

    • Oh, Thanks! I’m looking forward to meeting the “Boss of all Saints”. There is room for him beside Mr. Hiker. The more the merrier.

      Laurie May on Sep 29, 2015 at 9:35 pm | Reply

  3. As the blessed recipient of your Gnome-on-the-Phone, I must say I believe he did indeed perform a miracle for us! After having our house on the market for months, our prayers were answered and it did sell after planting him in our front garden. Perhaps he had a direct line to the MLS in the sky?? Perhaps if we got you a St. Joe holding an iPhone?? Great story again, Laurie!

    Ann from Collingwood on Sep 29, 2015 at 12:33 pm | Reply

    • Yes, Ann. I clearly recall that day. We sprinted to your front garden and basically tossed Mr. Gnome into the bushes. When we realized that he needed to be buried, we quickly dug up some soil and shoved him into a make-shift hole. I don’t recall measuring the depth of the hole very precisely. Despite our lack of respect for this solemn tradition, you had success with the sale of your home. Who knew?

      Laurie May from Mono on Sep 29, 2015 at 3:48 pm | Reply

  4. I can’t believe how you use everyday things to create such stories, I like how you educated as well as made it personal. A very good read.

    Norma Jane from Collingwood On Canada on Sep 29, 2015 at 8:23 am | Reply

    • Thanks, Norma Jane. I actually learned a lot too. I didn’t know the back-story of the Saint Joseph statue. It never hurts to believe in a little bit of magic!

      Laurie May from Mono on Sep 29, 2015 at 10:49 am | Reply

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