Home shopping network

A Magnolia, one of the mail-order homes advertised in the Sears catalog, still stands in Canton, OH. Image: Atlas Obscura

Before there were real estate sites and apps, you could order your dream home through the mail.

The Sears department store chain once operated a mail-order homes business that allowed customers to choose the house they liked and have it shipped to them.

About 70,000-75,000 homes were sold during a 32-year period, according to the Sears Archives site. The styles ranged from the multi-story Magnolia to the Goldenrod, a three-room, no-bath cottage.

As a New York newspaper recalled this month, the business began in 1908 when Sears published a catalog featuring 22 home styles ranging from $650-$2,500.

The company manufactured the parts and shipped them, along with the home plans, to customers.

As demand grew, Sears began offering more styles, as well as mortgage financing.

Sales plummeted during the Great Depression, prompting the company to end its mail-order homes business in 1940.

Though many of these homes are still standing, finding them isn’t easy because Sears lost most of the sales records, Popular Mechanics reported this year.

That hasn’t stopped a cadre of enthusiasts from traveling the country to track down the houses.

“There’s quite a few that we can recognize,” Andrew Mutch told Atlas Obscura recently.