From Catalog to Closing: The Successful Sale of a Sears, Roebuck Home

When you think of Sears today, you may think of a place at the mall where you'd buy tools or a pair of jeans. But if you turn the dial back a century, the Sears, Roebuck and Co. catalog was also a way to order a prefab home. One of these homes, listed at $290,000, just sold in Orma, WV.

"They're basically nice and well-built," says Realtor John Threlkeld. "It was easy to put together, and you had all the materials in for the house." He notes the materials came numbered: "You just nail it together."

That must have been some quality nail work done over 100 years ago, because there have been no recent renovations to the home. It could certainly be the new owner's pet project.

Buying a catalog home back then was convenient and thrifty. Threlkeld estimates the house cost about $3,000 a century ago.

The appeal for a buyer today, aside from the solidly built home, may be what comes with the property. Namely, two large barns, a gazebo, fenced-in land, gardens with fruit and nut trees, and raspberry and blackberry fields. Constructed in 1913, this 2,200-square-foot home sits on 70 acres of farmland in a rural area.

The home's interior gives off a rustic vibe with wood walls and floors, a living room with a stone fireplace, a covered porch, and views of rolling green hills.

While the house may look similar to others of the era, the distinguishing marks are subtle, according to Rachel Shoemaker, who blogs about Sears catalog homes. That includes the interior mill work and door hardware that are hallmarks of original Sears homes.

Other clues can even be something like a bathtub with a Sears logo. Based on the photos, Shoemaker believes this home is likely Modern Home No. 158.

"I'd put money on it," she says. However, she recommends home buyers require some form of authentication such as blueprints, or even a mortgage record if they want to make sure they're buying a true Sears catalog home.

"It doesn't make a house any more valuable than any other house on the street," Shoemaker says of the Sears branding. But she, like other kit-home buffs, thinks "the history is really cool."