Faith in Real Estate: Using Divine Intervention to Sell Homes

By Graham Wood

People have tried crazy things to sell a house: throwing in a $1,000 bar tab with the home purchase, filming YouTube spoofs of Carly Rae Jepsen's "Call Me Maybe" and advertising a cheating husband's affair.

But some use a much simpler tactic to get a home sold: They just have a little faith.

In a real estate market still slow to recover from a massive bust, turning to divine inspiration and calling on spiritual and religious cues to sell a home has actually gotten the transaction done much more quickly for some -- or so they say, anyway.

From the power of a religious figurine to home exorcisms and spiritual cleansing, we bring you three success stories of how heavenly guidance helped sell homes.

'How Can I Not Believe?'

Some say faith can move mountains. Joan Berkowitz will tell you that it can also sell a house.

After all, her quaint cottage in Accord, N.Y., which she used as a weekend home, had lingered on the market for a year with no takers. But after a little divine intervention, she said, she snagged a buyer three weeks later.

"I have a dear friend -- she's a good Catholic," explained Berkowitz, who is Jewish. "She said, 'You need St. Joseph.'"

Her friend told her of a popular notion that if you bury a statue of St. Joseph -- who Christians believe was the earthly father of Jesus Christ -- in your yard, your home will sell faster. It's become such a widely recognized tradition that there are even St. Joseph home-selling kits being sold online.

"She believes in saints, so she bought me a 'saint in a box,' " Berkowitz said.

She took the palm-size St. Joseph figurine and followed the instructions: She buried it upside down, 6 feet from the back door, and read a prayer afterward. Three weeks later, an interested buyer made an offer on the house. The sale closed in December 2011.

"How can I not believe?" Berkowitz said.

She does feel a little guilty about participating in a Christian tradition. "I feel like a traitor because I'm Jewish," Berkowitz said with a laugh.