Thursday, February 7, 2008
7 News Features: Saint for Sale
Desperate times call for desperate measures. The saying couldn't be more true right now in the real estate market, but how far are home sellers willing to go? Seven's Louis Aguirre shows us how some people are hoping a saint can help them sell.
WSVN -- Four bedrooms, two bathrooms and Hannah Montana. Buy the house, see the concert.
All over the country people are getting creative giving incentives for someone to buy their home. It's obvious the housing market isn't getting any better.
Andrea Williams: "It's been frustrating."
Andrea Williams lives that reality every day.
Andrea Williams: "I've had my house on the market for the last eight months and using all the conventional marketing tools."
She tried everything from redecorating, to reducing the price. Not even a nibble. She was starting to think it was going to take a miracle to sell her house, but is there a miracle for the housing crisis?
Believe it or not, some swear this little plastic statue can help you sell your home. St. Joseph is the Catholic patron saint of family and home.
Father Albert Cutie: "He is kind of an underground agent of real estate, like a real estate agent."
Father Albert Cutie is not surprised thousands of believers and non-believers across the country are turning to St. Joseph to sell their homes, and the reason dates back to the 16th Century.
Father Albert Cutie: "When Teresa of Avila was trying to open up a new convent, she told the people that were devoted to St. Joseph, you know, 'Bury these medals, you know, bury them in the ground, and we will be able to get the property for the convent.'"
And, the story goes, shortly after burying St. Joseph medals in the ground, the land became available and the nuns got their convent. In today's world, the tradition lives on but with a twist.
Frank Martin: "We bury it upside down in the front of the house to be sold or bought. OK, what that does, it promotes the house or the action of buying or selling that house."
And thousands of people are believing it.
Camilly Kafka: "It worked, we sold the house. I think we got an offer within the month."
Frank Martin says the saint has always been popular in his store, but, in the last year, sales have gone through the roof.
Frank Martin: "90 percent of the customers or clients, if you want to call them, that I've had in the past year, have all been real estate oriented."
And it's not just here in South Florida. A company in Chicago ships the statues nationwide. They are having a hard time meeting demand.
Dan Loughman: "We saw our first real spike in 2006. We went up between 2005 and 2006 about 33 percent, and we have maintained at that higher level ever since."
And the fever keeps building. Just Google "St. Joseph" on the Internet and success stories pop up by the thousands.
Louis Aguirre: "But not everyone is a believer. The skeptics say pricing and marketing sells homes, not a piece of plastic, and even believers will tell you it's not the statue, but the faith you put into it that works miracles."
Frank Martin: "You can bury St. Joseph himself in front of your house, and you are not going to sell, you know, you have to believe."
Andrea is hoping St. Joseph can work a miracle for her. She has listed with a new realtor and, for extra insurance, she's put a bit of faith in the front yard, and she prays this saint for sale will be what turns the tide and finally sells her home.