As mortgage rates rise to their highest levels in more than twenty years, families in search of either their first house or maybe just looking to make a move to a different home or neighborhood face unprecedented challenges.

Home ownership has long been an integral part of the American dream. Not only can it be a very good financial investment but having a place to call your own allows you some semblance of security, as well as allow you to put down roots in a community.

It hasn’t always been so difficult to afford purchasing a house in America. In fact, once upon a time, the legendary company Sears & Roebuck sold over 75,000 of them by mail.

You read that right – a home through the mail.

Between 1908 and 1942, Sears and Roebuck operated its “Modern Home” program out of its popular 1,000 plus page mail-order catalog. In many ways, Sears was the Amazon of its day. Customers from all over the country purchased a wide range of items (over 100,000 different items!) from the famed retailer – from clothes to sporting goods to furniture – and houses.

Prospective homeowners had 400 different styles of “kit” houses to choose from. Once selected, materials were prepared and then placed on a railcar. Delivered to the closest station, customers would then cart the materials to their building site and begin constructing the home of their dreams. All houses came with detailed instructions that promised to be simple enough for an amateur to follow. Assembly often took less than 90 days.

The kit home costs ranged between $600 and $6000 and included, among other things, 12,000 pieces of lumber, 28 windows, two dozen doors, 27 gallons of paint and 750 pounds of nails.

Many of its customers were newlyweds or newly arrived immigrants who wouldn’t otherwise be able to afford a mortgage. Sears offered financing.

The genius of the Sears program was that they weren’t just selling a house – they were also cultivating customers who would then have an empty house to fill – hopefully with Sears and Roebuck merchandise.

Company executives recognized that by helping to meet practical needs, they were also changing lives for the better. Anytime you connect with someone on an emotional level you’re exponentially more likely to sell to them again.

As a young man, Richard Warren Sears took a job at a Minneapolis railroad station in order to help his widowed mother make the ends meet. It would be at that same station when Mr. Sears stumbled upon an opportunity that would change his life – and the lives of countless others forever.

When a jeweler refused shipment of a box of watches that came thru Sears’ station, the enterprising young man asked permission to see if he could sell them himself. They sold briskly – which then led to him launching the R.W. Sears Watch Company. Since watches break, Sears looked to hire a repairman and found his solution in Alvah Curtis Roebuck. The legendary partnership was born.

World War II production demands put a halt to the Sears kit home at the end of 1941, though thousands of the houses still stand today. You can register yours or see others by clicking here.

Pursuing the dream of owning your own home are one of the many fun parts of marriage. The research confirms that when couples shared a joint vision and are willing to work towards it together, relationships have the best opportunity to thrive, grow and deepen. Dreaming together will help husbands and wives weather the many storms of life and marriage, too.

“The most powerful benefit of sharing a vision for your future is the synergy it creates,” says Focus on the Family’s Erin Smalley. “What you can do together is far greater than what you can do alone. Your combined abilities, experience, talents and passions create an incredible God-blessed synergy — the two become one. This oneness is a superpower. God wants you to use your oneness to bless others.”