The Elusive Sears House Saga Continues

Real Estate Agent with Compass

Sears Catalog house Interior(Original Article: Listings The College Park Way)


Last week, I made a promise I couldn’t keep: an inside look at the 1923 Sears “Vallonia” that had hit the market in College Park, Maryland. As it turned out, we couldn’t get in. And neither could anybody else, according to the listing agent–the tenants are defending their fortress! You can read the whole story here. It’s quite ludicrous, actually.

To make up for it, here is the Vallonia’s interior as depicted in the 1926 Sears catalog: Surely, the furnishings will look differently (after all, the tenants are supposed to be a group of students), but perhaps there’s a lot of the original trim and other detail preserved.

Perhaps we’ll find out one day. As of now, the 7-bedroom house has been “on the market” for almost 4 weeks and the agent yet has to gain access for potential buyers (I’m still waiting to hear back from her). Maybe the hope is that somebody will send a large check without having seen the place from the inside.

In any case, as I was nearby last weekend, I couldn’t resist the temptation and drove by. I didn’t have the heart to knock at the door (somehow I suddenly imagined 7 large, angry college athletes on steroids).

Sears Catalog house




I did make another discovery at the end of the block: a perfectly preserved Sears “Brookwood” with original siding, windows and trim (no idea what the bar and cloth and the roof are). Somebody had added an unfortunate little portico to the gabled front Sears Catalog House Berwynat some point, but other than that, it was quite sweet.

When I noticed the For Sale sign on th
e fence, I looked up the listing but couldn’t find any. I called the agency and asked to see the house. They hoped to have the paperwork ready “tomorrow” and would then enter it in the MLS.

That was more than a week ago though. Do I need to mention that agent hasn’t called me back, either?

Normally, I would now say, if you’d like to see one or both of these homes for sale, just give me a call. But I probably couldn't keep that promise, either.

Posted by

© 2012, Catarina Bannier


Comments (13)

Carol-Ann Palmieri
RE/MAX Executive Realty, Al and Cal Realty Group - Franklin, MA
"Cal" the Real Estate Gal

Hi Catarina!    I love catalog homes.   Imagine purchasing a home through a catalog in the 20's!    I wait to hear the rest of the saga! 

Apr 02, 2012 10:20 AM
Cindy Jones
Integrity Real Estate Group - Woodbridge, VA
Pentagon, Fort Belvoir & Quantico Real Estate News

Looks like the house needs some roof work.  Isn't it fun to find these little gems in our area.  Hopefully they find owners who appreciate their history.

Apr 02, 2012 11:35 AM
Patricia Kennedy
RLAH Real Estate - Washington, DC
Home in the Capital
Cati, these soundlike the tenants from hell! I might have just knocked n the door! Or not.
Apr 02, 2012 01:17 PM
Catarina Bannier
Compass - Chevy Chase, DC
DC Real Estate The Smart And Fun Way

Hi Carol-- so do I!  I think I'll just call them just once a week, and i'll be sure to update you all if anything remarkable happens. I wonder if the sellers have any idea.

Cindy--I bet it it does, but surely the agent wouldn't know, would she... It seems overpriced for the neighborhood even without taking that into account. (I really want to see it!)

Pat-- I'll drag you along. You come across a lot more authoritative. No messing with you!

Apr 03, 2012 02:51 AM
Patricia Kennedy
RLAH Real Estate - Washington, DC
Home in the Capital

Hey, Cati!  I included this post in Last Week's Favorites.  Have a great week.

Apr 08, 2012 04:40 AM
Marte Cliff
Marte Cliff Copywriting - Priest River, ID
Your real estate writer

Isn't that all just crazy? First, a listing you can't go see - and then a premature sign on a house that "someone" doesn't want you to see. (The agent who has her own buyer, perhaps??)

I've never seen a catalog home - not something we have here - so I'd be curious too.

Apr 08, 2012 05:12 AM
Caprice Couselle Realtor Morristown Homes For Sale
Keller Williams Realty - Morristown, NJ
First Time Home Buyers,Relocation,Horse Farms

Hi Catarina, I sold a Sears home a couple of years ago.. Original Price was $19,000 But it didn't look like that. That house looks fabulous. The boys have probably painted the interior black. School is almost out . Maybe they will vacate at the end of their term.  Good Luck. Caprice

Apr 08, 2012 08:05 AM
Andrea Swiedler
Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices New England Properties - New Milford, CT
Realtor, Southern Litchfield County CT

Wow, must be a theme. Sears kit homes are untouchable in your neck of the woods it would seem. Why bother to keep a house on the market if it can't be shown... makes one wonder...

Apr 08, 2012 10:40 AM
Catarina Bannier
Compass - Chevy Chase, DC
DC Real Estate The Smart And Fun Way

Pat--many thanks! Hope you've had a lovely Easter weekend!

Marte--this occurred to me, too (that the agent might be trying to sell it--or even buy it!--herself. But when i heard that she hadn't even been in the house, and given that the price is a little steep for the neighborhood, I doubted that. Perhaps she is hoping for calls from buyers whom she can show other places?


Apr 09, 2012 04:29 AM
Catarina Bannier
Compass - Chevy Chase, DC
DC Real Estate The Smart And Fun Way

Caprice--do you have a picture? would love to see it? And yes, I can only imagine what they've done inside... 

Andrea--see my speculations above...but frankly, I don't understand the owners, either. You'd think that they would want to be kept abreast somehow.

Apr 09, 2012 05:37 AM


Was it difficult to sell your kit house?  I have an Aladdin kit house, 1928.  Do they ever bring higher prices if they are not modified in any way?  Is it better to specify that it is a kit house, or just sell it as a small house?  thanx Jemma

Apr 18, 2012 03:05 AM
Catarina Bannier
Compass - Chevy Chase, DC
DC Real Estate The Smart And Fun Way

Hi Jemma, of course I can't answer for Caprice, but I think in general it probably depends on where you live and what kind of buyers target your neighborhood. In DC, we have areas where many people couldn't care less, and then others, where history of any kind is a huge bonus to buyers. Of course, in the latter neighborhoods it's important to emphasize and illustrate the kit house aspect in the marketing. Otherwise it won't help. 

And yes, restore and repair rather than replace and renew. That's very important, at least to the kit house enthusiasts among your potential buyers.

I'd love to see a picture of your Aladdin--which model is it? 

Apr 18, 2012 03:27 AM
Debbie Cook
Long & Foster Real Estate, Inc - Silver Spring, MD
Silver Spring and Takoma Park Maryland Real Estate


That house is adorable!  I love looking at all the catalog houses we have in Silver Spring's North Woodside, Blair, Capitol View Park, Woodside and the catalog home buyer's heaven of Takoma Park.  I've seen some pretty cool ones in Cheverly and along Route 1 in Hyattsville too.  You have a wonderful blog about these houses.

May 10, 2012 12:31 PM