Magazine article National Catholic Reporter

As Housing Sales Chill, St. Joseph Sales Are Hot

Magazine article National Catholic Reporter

As Housing Sales Chill, St. Joseph Sales Are Hot

Article excerpt

Some call it superstition. Others call it faith. Just about everyone agrees: For less than 10 bucks, it's worth a try.

St. Joseph is the most affordable real estate agent for hire. And as more homes languish in an increasingly cool housing market, he also is one of the most popular.

It is believed that Joseph, when buried in statue form upside down, brings good luck to homeowners desperate to sell. The tradition dates back hundreds of years; more recently, it has inspired Web sites devoted solely to selling St. Joseph statues and burial kits.

They are top-sellers at Christian-themed gift shops. Real estate agents buy them in bulk.

It's often "an act of desperation," said Chris Bell, spokesman for the Cleveland Area Board of Realtors. "It seems agencies buy them when their listings aren't moving as fast as expected."

The local realtors group sells a small St. Joseph statue at its online store, www.cabor.com, for $7.95, plus tax and shipping costs.

"We've been selling quite a few this year," Bell said. "More than usual."

Religious book and gift shops, where statues sell for as little as $2 and kits that include prayer cards and burial instructions often sell for less than $10, also are seeing an uptick.

"They sell good all the time," said Frank Novak of Gannon's Religious Gifts in Fairview Park, Ohio. "But we're selling more now. The housing market is difficult out there."

That's good news for Phil Cates, a Modesto, Calif., mortgage banker who owns StJosephStatue.com, a Web site that bills itself as your "underground real estate agent. …

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