Joyce Dopkeen/The New York Times
Sears sold lovely architect-designed homes in kit form from 1908 to 1940; the $4,347 model shown above is a ""Dutch Colonial with four bedrooms, one full bath and a lavatory; up-to-date kitchen with folding ironing board that disappears into the wall and other amenities for the housewife" and more.
The kits included up to 30,000 precut parts, and of course Sears also sold furnishings and offered mortgages. Sears got out of the business in the depression when their customers had lost their jobs and were defaulting on their loans. Sears liquidated eleven million dollars in mortgages but unlike lenders today, did not foreclose. According to Amy Pappas of the New Castle Historical Society:
"Because Sears did not want to be known as a heartless corporation that took people's homes from them, it absorbed most of the losses." ::New York Times