Philadelphia is filled with superstitious people – and for good reason. We all know how we were cursed once skyscrapers taller than City Hall’s William Penn statue were built. Our sports teams were doomed for 25 years, until a miniature William Penn statue was placed at the top of the Comcast building, breaking the curse with a Phillies’ World Series championship in 2008.
I’m a little superstitious myself. When I bought the house I currently live in now, I didn’t want to have the contingency of selling my home in the deal. The market was starting to slow (this was right before the big crash) and I didn’t want the deal to fall through. So, while my house was on the market, I took out a home equity for the new home’s down payment and rented my current home. Having two mortgages and a home equity loan (and a new baby and a second on the way) was a little stressful, so this Irish-Catholic boy figured burying St. Joseph couldn’t hurt. I don’t if that’s the reason, but we got an offer about a week later.
Burying St. Joseph
In the Catholic religion, St. Joseph is the patron saint of home and family. The legend, whose origins are unclear according to Snopes, says that if you bury a small plastic statue of St. Joseph in your front yard your house will soon sell. Once your home sells, you are supposed to dig up St. Joseph and place him on the mantle in gratitude. We don’t have a mantle – I think he’s somewhere in our garage. There are even “St. Joseph Home Seller Statue Kits” for sale on Amazon. It might sound crazy, but spending less than $10 on a superstition sounds a lot better than lowering your asking price!
It turns out there are quite a few superstitions in the real estate world. Here are some of the most interesting:
Use Lucky Numbers
Some feel that the numbers in your listing price are important – specifically, the last nonzero digit. In Chinese culture, the number 8 is considered lucky because it is similar to the Chinese word for prosperity, and the number 4 is considered unlucky because it is similar to the Chinese word for death. So, if your house is listed at $324,000, you might want to try lowering it to $318,000 (or raise it to $328,000!). In American culture, 7 is considered a lucky number. And of course, 13 is always considered unlucky.
Use Feng Shui
Feng shui is a Chinese philosophical system for harmonizing human existence with the surrounding environment. According to this system, there are some things you can do to put your home in harmony with potential buyers. Some of the things are obvious, like clearing off counters, getting rid of clutter, filling your home with inviting scents. Some of the things are not practical, like insisting on the bathroom door staying closed and never letting any potential buyers see a toilet. I know that I would want to see everything before purchasing a home, toilet included. But, some of the tips might be new to you a worth a try. These include: making sure the For Sale sign is to right of the front door as you look at it, turning furniture to face the hallway, putting potted flowers outside of your entry way, and keeping the outside lights on all night long.
Old Wives’ Tales
I think wives are a pretty smart group of people, so it stands to reason that the older ones are even smarter, right? I don’t know where they got their ideas, but if they are still around they must have worked for someone. Some “old wives’ tales” for home sale include: hanging a horse upside down over the doorway, putting fennel on your door jambs, and putting a comb in your mattress.
For the home buyers, there are superstitions for you too! Don’t move into your new home on a Friday (Saturday is apparently the best day, but Wednesday is okay too), don’t bring in any old brooms, and make sure that the first person who comes in brings you bread (or rice, or salt, or I guess a new broom since you now don’t have one). You should bring that horse shoe and comb you used to sell your old house, because they’ll be lucky in your new home as well.
Of course, I believe that the best luck comes from using a qualified realtor, but I’m not going to purposefully go against superstition. I just heard that the Comcast Innovation and Technology Center that begins construction this summer will also have a miniature William Penn statue placed atop. So, I’m hopeful for the Phils in the 2017 World Series!