The homes originally cost between a few hundred dollars and a few thousand. The Martha Washington model, for example, originally sold for $2,688 to $3,727 (or the equivalent of $35,713 to $49,518 today), but in 2016 one sold for more than $1 million.

Some mail-order house enthusiasts estimate that about 70 percent of Sears houses are still standing today…

Romain says Sears homes are more or less like other catalog-sold homes of their era, but their stories and their role in helping grow the middle class are what make them notable.

“Being middle class and being able to go buy and own a home that you can build with your own hands” makes the houses special, he says.