Home » Real Estate » Buying

Mail Order Home Kits - Sear Roebuck Homes Still Stand Proud

Jul 21, 2008
"After some consideration, I think I'll choose the Modern Home No. 146. The Saratoga has a lovely wide front porch and the redwood siding should endure for many decades."

This was, perhaps, the thinking of thousands of families who bought their homes from the Sears Roebuck Houses by Mail Catalog - a phenomenon of the early 20th century that delivered kit homes stacked onto rail cars to families across America. Between 1908 and 1940 about 100,000 families perused the architectural catalog, read concise descriptions of house styles and analyzed floor plans. Then, according to their family budget and needs, placed a stamp on an envelope and sent off for a complete kit to build their home from foundation to roof top.

Sometimes, the buyer would take on the task of building the home while others hired local contractors. Thousands of these homes still stand today, their owners perhaps unaware their bungalow, cottage, colonial house or other older home was assembled from a kit. The cost? A home kit could be purchased for a under $1,000 and up to about $2,700, depending upon the design and square footage. Today, many of those same homes sell for a half million dollars or more.

Although Sears Roebuck Company was the most successful retailer of home kits, it was not alone. A major competitor in the market was, not surprisingly, Montgomery Ward. But it was Sears that captured the majority of sales and left a lasting mark on real estate across America. Some analysts say it was the company's attention to detail and quality that kept it in front of its competitors. In 1918, a Sears' marketing piece promised "the customer must be satisfied for a lifetime for every house we sell is a standing advertisement for Sears Roebuck and Company."

Part of this satisfaction came with the efficient way the Sears kits were assembled and presented. In the early 1900s, carpenters and home builders did not have the advantage of today's power tools. Most people were not educated in reading architectural plans, nor experienced in construction. Sears pre-cut all the lumber for the homes and made instructions easy to follow. Since most buyers were intimately involved in the construction of their kit home, there was a special pride in hands-on ownership.

After the Great Depression, Sears offered an even more complete package to customers by including financing. By then, the company was deep into lumber mills and other industries that supported its housing venture. By 1940, the burden of manufacturing and financing - and the impact of WWII - saw the last of the Book of Modern Homes. Times changed and Sear Roebuck changed with them. The company never kept an inventory of the homes it sold so many people who own houses from the early decades of the 20th century may be unaware of their home's humble, mail order origin.
About the Author
Come visit us to learn about the beauty of Sonoma County Real Estate or if you are considering purchasing real estate in Sonoma County
Rating:
Please Rate:
(Average: Not rated)
Views: 132
Print Email Report Share
Article Categories
    • Artists
    • Gambling
    • Humanities
    • Humor
    • Movies
    • Music
    • Photography
    • Tattoos
    • Television
    • Classic Cars
    • Motorcycles
    • Recreational Vehicles
    • SUVs
    • Trucks
    • Vans
    • Branding
    • Business Opportunities
    • Careers and Jobs
    • Corporate
    • Customer Service
    • Direct Mail
    • Entrepreneurship
    • Ethics
    • Financing
    • Franchising
    • Home-Based Business
    • Human Resources
    • Import and Export
    • Leadership
    • Management
    • Market Research
    • Marketing and Advertising
    • Negotiation
    • Network Marketing
    • Networking
    • Organizational
    • Presentation
    • Project Management
    • Public Relations
    • Small Business
    • Strategic Planning
    • Team Building
    • Telemarketing
    • Training
    • Data Recovery
    • Databases
    • Games
    • Hardware
    • Networks
    • Operating Systems
    • Programming
    • Security
    • Software
    • Spyware and Viruses
    • Ask an Expert
    • College and University
    • Home Schooling
    • K-12
    • Languages
    • Online Education
    • Psychology
    • Accounting
    • Credit
    • Currency Trading
    • Debt Consolidation
    • Insurance
    • Investing
    • Leasing
    • Loans
    • Mortgage
    • Mutual Funds
    • Personal Finance
    • Stock Market
    • Structured Settlements
    • Taxes
    • Wealth Building
    • Coffee
    • Cooking
    • Gourmet
    • Recipes
    • Wine and Spirits
    • Acne
    • Aerobics
    • Alternative Medicine
    • Beauty
    • Cancer
    • Cosmetics
    • Depression
    • Diabetes
    • Diseases and Conditions
    • Fitness Equipment
    • Fitness
    • Hair Loss
    • Heart Disease
    • Medicine
    • Men's Health
    • Muscle Building
    • Nutrition
    • Skin Care
    • Supplements and Vitamins
    • Weight Loss
    • Women's Health
    • Yoga
    • Arts and Crafts
    • Babies
    • Collecting
    • Elderly Care
    • Genealogy
    • Hobbies
    • Parenting
    • Pets
    • Pregnancy
    • Woodworking
    • Feng Shui
    • Gardening
    • Home Appliances
    • Home Security
    • Interior Design
    • Landscaping
    • Affiliate Programs
    • Article Marketing
    • Auctions
    • Audio
    • Banner Advertising
    • Blogging
    • Broadband
    • Domain Names
    • E-Books
    • E-Commerce
    • Email Marketing
    • Ezines and Newsletters
    • Forums
    • Internet Marketing
    • Link Popularity
    • Pay-Per-Click
    • Podcasting
    • RSS
    • Search Engine Marketing
    • Search Engine Optimization
    • Security
    • Social Media
    • Spam
    • Video
    • Viral Marketing
    • Web Design
    • Web Development
    • Web Hosting
    • Copyright
    • Cyber Law
    • Intellectual Property
    • National, State, Local
    • Patents
    • Regulatory Compliance
    • Trademarks
    • Baseball
    • Basketball
    • Boating
    • Cycling
    • Extreme Sports
    • Fishing
    • Football
    • Golf
    • Hockey
    • Hunting
    • Martial Arts
    • Running
    • Scuba Diving
    • Soccer
    • Swimming
    • Tennis
    • Dating
    • Divorce
    • Marriage
    • Weddings
    • Astrology
    • Buddhism
    • Christianity
    • Faith
    • Hinduism
    • Islam
    • Judaism
    • Meditation
    • Metaphysical
    • New Age
    • Cable and Satellite TV
    • Cell Phones
    • Communication
    • Gadgets and Gizmos
    • GPS
    • Satellite Radio
    • Video Conferencing
    • VoIP
    • Addictions
    • Coaching
    • Goal Setting
    • Motivational
    • Stress Management
    • Time Management
    • Clothing
    • Electronics
    • Fashion
    • Gifts
    • Jewelry
    • Causes and Organizations
    • Environment
    • History
    • Holidays
    • Men's Issues
    • Nature
    • Philosophy
    • Politics
    • Women's Issues
    • World Affairs
    • Air Travel
    • Camping
    • Cruises
    • Destinations
    • Outdoors
    • Article Writing
    • Book Reviews
    • Copywriting
    • Fiction
    • Non-Fiction
    • Poetry
    • Quotes
    • Screenplay
    • Tools and Resources