4. Vancouver – Christmas Story

The Worlds Best REALTOR® … a Christmas Story

You’re expecting me to say that the world’s best Realtor® is none other than me – right! Well maybe, but for this article I’m going to pass the credit on to a real estate professional named ‘Jo’ – but just for December. The rest of the year I’m the Worlds Best Realtor®.

For my December post it seemed only appropriate that my blog should have a Christmas theme to it. After all, for those of us who celebrate the season, our houses are inexplicably linked to Christmas. It’s most often the place where we share our Christmas meal together with family and friends. While for others, we display lights and share the joy of the season by adorning our house with lights. I just love Christmas lights because in South Africa where I was born, it wasn’t really a tradition like it is here. We had Guy Fawkes day, but that was really about blowing up a house, not making it look attractive with lights. Anyway, I started a website for Lower Mainlanders called Christmashomes.ca

Ian Brett’s Captain Vancouver® Presents ChristmasHomes.ca

Christmas Homes lists all the homes in Greater Vancouver that have light displays. If there’s a competition, my favorites are in Brookswood, Langley where there seems to be a lot of Christmas cheer going on by way of flashy lights, music, and gigantic castles.

I’m going to be a Scrooge for a moment and ask you to put aside the Christmas cheer that December brings for just a brief moment. As a Realtor® writing in a Real Estate blog, I would be remise if I didn’t mention December tends to be the hardest month to sell a home. What’s the reason behind this? Well there’s the obvious reasons…if you live in a snowy place, not seeing the land under the house is one good reason. School is another…parents just don’t like to switch their kids out into a new school half way through the year. Then there’s the not so obvious which happens to be more on the physiological/emotional side of things that I think actually makes selling a home in December harder because of Christmas.

Vancouver Archives ‘Kerrisdale Home’

The problem with selling a home in December in my opinion is that homeowners are more likely emotionally detached from their homes the moment it was listed while Christmas is an emotional event that encompasses family and finances. If your Realtor® asked you to de-clutter, likely all the ‘personal’ photos are down and now you are forced to have one last celebration in a home that really doesn’t feel like home anymore.

If you still want to live in your home but are being forced out for whatever reason. Well that makes moving all the worse around Christmas…in fact downright depressing! If you sold and are ready to move, then you are contending with boxes…and do you really want to pack more kids toys do you.

The truth is, moving is pretty much always the result of a change in a job, divorce, death, downsizing and so on. Realtors® call it the 4-D’s (debt, divorce, death, diapers). I think there is actually 7’D’s but that is for another blog.

There are heavy emotions with the reasons behind moving and its only emphasized when Christmas rolls around. My wife will tell you that the first Christmas after her Dad died was very hard because she remembered thinking the previous year when he was alive that he would not live to see the next Christmas. She envisioned an empty chair at the Dinner table the following year, only to see what she imagined realized the next Christmas. She said that suddenly all her good memories eating at that table in the front room seemed to vanish with the last image of her Dad carving the turkey. It was no surprise to us that her Mom put the house up on the market a few months later. Selling and moving can be the start of something new and wonderful but no matter how good the reason for moving, it’s almost always an emotional experience.

My best advice for the emotionally burdened December mover…get out town if you can, even if costs you more than you want to spend. This year we went to Harrison Hotsprings to celebrate Christmas for no reason other than a change of scenery and I must admit it was a nice alternative and something I would personally do if I were to ever move in the month of December. It will give you space to breath, think and regroup.

Speaking of extra spending. December also happens to be the month that puts people into debt (another one of the 4D’s). Sorry…but I did say that I was going to be a Scrooge for a bit! Even though statistically all Vancouverites are technically millionaires with our housing prices what they are. I think it’s fair to say that we can all relate to Clark Griswold expecting his Christmas bonus to cover his Christmas promises to his family, only to be let down. The bell to the front door of the Griswold house rings and there’s the Delivery guy who was supposed to deliver Clarks yearly Christmas bonus but instead ends up delivering to him a membership in the “Jelly of the Month Club”. BTW…the delivery guy is Vancouverite ‘Keith MacKechnie.’

Vancouverite Keith MacKechnie in the Classic Movie ‘Christmas Vacation’

Kind of reminds me of a job I had when I was young, before I was a Realtor®. Just before Christmas one year, my employer told me that my job title had changed. I thought, wow better that than to loose my job, like a sort of mixed blessing. A week later I was called into his office. “Ian…he said, I want to congratulate you on your new job. Nothings changed, there’s no raise… but you get a new title….Merry Christmas!” Then he gave me my old title back from the week before! Gees thanks! It was the ultimate in Bah Humbug!All this bah humbug about the 4D’s and selling homes at Christmas and my own Griswold Christmas story. Now I will turn from Scrooge to Saint. We’ve all heard it said before that Vancouver is ‘no-fun city’ and that Vancouverites are lonely and unfriendly. Well I bet there are few cities that offer free kisses under the mistletoe. If your an out-of-towner…feel free to just kiss anyone that happens to walk under the #VanKiss mistletoe.

#VanKiss Elves bring kisses to Vancouverites

Now I’m an eternal optimist if you haven’t guessed and I’m reminded that Mary and Joseph didn’t have a home to stay in and that our Christmas story was also about homelessness and how we all respond to those less fortunate. With all the myriad of problems that any homeowner could possibly experience during this time, whether emotional or financial, it pales by comparison to homelessness. There is a staggering 17,000 working poor and homeless people throughout the Lower Mainland and I’m happy to say that many of them will receive blankets and warm clothing this winter thanks to donations collected during the 21stannual REALTORS Care® Blanket Drive.

So how does selling a home in December during the Christmas season connect to ‘Jo’…the World’s best Realtor®? No, he or she didn’t hand out thousands of blankets at the Blanket Drive. ‘Jo’ happens to be St. Joseph the unofficial patron saint of real estate. No, that’s not a joke, it’s true. There’s actually an unofficial Saint for all of you out there that are having trouble selling your home (not likely in Vancouver) or for some reason need to purge your house from some kind of ghost of Christmas past. I’m sure it will work for that as well.

EcoJoe® St Joseph Statue

The tradition of burying a statue of St. Joseph has been around for hundreds of years but was revived in the 1980’s when Realtors® began burying thousands of small plastic St. Joseph statues on properties that they wanted to sell. Probably attributed to the downturn in the economy at the time (as they say no atheists in the fox hole). You’ll find a lot of homeowners who genuinely believe that burying a statue of St. Joseph face down in the yard of a home that is on the market, and praying to St. Joseph for help finding the right buyer for the property, will help make a house sell faster.

According to the EcoJoe® website (they sell environmentally sensitive St. Joseph statues that dissolve into the soil). There are different versions of the beginning of this legend. One of the most popular theories about the origin of this tradition attributed it to St. Teresa of Avila. The legend is that St. Teresa started the custom of burying a statue of St. Joseph in the land in her quest for a new convent for her nuns. As the order grew and the Church wanted her to open other chapters of her order she needed appropriate land that would be large enough to house the nunnery.

She prayed to St. Joseph to help her find land that would be large enough and cheap enough for the project and encouraged her nuns to bury medals of St. Joseph in the ground to consecrate it and show the devotion of the nuns to St. Joseph. Eventually she did find the right piece of land and felt that the nuns’ prayers and burying the medals of St. Joseph had led St. Joseph to help her find the land.

From that point forward it became a tradition for people that were looking for a new home or looking for a piece of land to bury consecrated medals of St. Joseph in the land and pray for help finding a new home when they wanted to buy a new house or a new piece of land. Over the centuries the custom changed and instead of burying medals of St. Joseph people began burying small statues of St. Joseph when they wanted to sell their home or their property.

Another version of the custom of burying a statue of St Joseph in order to help a house sell faster is attributed to Germany where home builders would often place a small statue of St. Joseph or St. Joseph medals that had been blessed in the foundations of new homes. The builders would pray for the new owners of the home and leave the statues and medals in the home to protect the new owners.

St. Joseph is the patron saint of the house so it’s only natural that burying a statue of him would help the house sell faster, because of his profession as a carpenter and his role in raising Jesus and providing a stable, happy home for Jesus in grow up in he is the perfect saint to pray to when you want to sell your home to a new family that is looking for a safe and happy place to live.

Burying a statue of St. Joseph is unofficial as far as the Catholic Church goes and is more leaning towards superstition. There are no stats on ‘Jo the Realtor®’ but even if he manages to help the emotionally burden mover ‘calmer’ (you know who you are) then Kudos to ‘Jo’ for being the Worlds Best Realtor®! Have a Merry Christmas Vancouver!

105 Replies to “4. Vancouver – Christmas Story”

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