The Omaha House Where Warren Buffett Launched His Business Empire Asks $799,000

From a Wall Street Journal story by Katherine Clarke headlined “The Omaha House Where Warren Buffett Launched His Business Empire Asks $799,000”:

On a bustling, tree-lined block outside downtown Omaha sits a modest home with a wood-shake roof and brown-and-white striped window awnings. If its walls could talk, they’d tell the origin story of Omaha’s most famous man, billionaire Warren Buffett.

On an arched door in the sunroom of the home is Mr. Buffett’s signature along with the words: “The birthplace of Buffett Associates May 1956.” In the mid-1950s, the property was home to Mr. Buffett, nicknamed the Oracle of Omaha for his investor acumen and now one of the world’s richest men. The house served as a makeshift office for one of Mr. Buffett’s first solo investment funds, Buffett Associates. Now, nearly seven decades later, the three-bedroom house is coming on the market for $799,000.

The roughly 3,300-square-foot home is located in the upscale Dundee neighborhood of Omaha and dates to the early 1900s….In 1956, Mr. Buffett and his then-wife, the late Susan Buffett, rented the house for just $175 a month, according to the book “The Snowball: Warren Buffett and the Business of Life” by Alice Schroeder. His onetime mentor and employer, British-born economist Benjamin Graham, retired around that time, and Mr. Buffett was making moves of his own. It was there, in a sunroom off the primary bedroom, that he started Buffett Associates Ltd., a partnership comprising him and seven other partners, including family members and friends. Each pitched in just over $100,000, according to Ms. Schroeder’s book.

When the partners gathered over dinner at a local club for the kickoff meeting that year, Mr. Buffett outlined his investment philosophy, instructing the partners to ignore the daily, weekly and monthly gyrations of the stock market but rather to view the performance of the fund’s investments over at least three or five years, according to “Warren Buffett: Inside the Ultimate Money Mind” by Robert G. Hagstrom.

The partnership firm operated very successfully for nearly 13 years and established Mr. Buffett’s identity on Wall Street, according to the book “The Life and Times of Warren Buffett” by Dinkar Kumar. Its investments grew by about 30% annually, while the overall market grew by only 7% to 11%, the book said. Many of the partnership’s assets were eventually merged into Berkshire Hathaway, the giant holding company that got its name from a flagging textile company Mr. Buffett turned around.

The Buffetts lived in the house for about two years before paying $31,500 to buy a different Omaha house, where Mr. Buffett still lives. While Mr. Buffett is known for living a relatively restrained lifestyle despite his billions, he has splurged on some flashier real estate in the past. In 2018 he sold his beach house in Laguna Beach, Calif., for roughly $7.5 million, or 32% less than its original asking price.

Current owners James and Nancy Monen bought the Dundee property for $397,000 in 2005, records show. They already lived in the neighborhood with their two children. Although Mr. Monen’s late uncle had been an early investor with Mr. Buffett, the Monens said, they had no idea about Mr. Buffett’s connection to that house.

“I drove by all the time and admired it. It has this English Tudor cottage look,” Ms. Monen said. “One day I was going to Target and there was a for sale sign in the yard. We were the first ones to show up, and bought it right then and there.” They found out about Mr. Buffett’s prior residency from the seller during the course of buying the house, they said.

In 2019, more than a decade after the Monens bought the house, Mr. Buffett came to visit with two of his children, Susie Buffett and Howard Buffett. The Monens knew Susie Buffett through their children’s school and mentioned that they lived in the house where she spent a few years of her early childhood. She said her father would like to see it again, and the trio arrived on an icy February morning, taking pictures and reliving memories. They particularly wanted to see the sunroom. There, Mr. Buffett scribbled his signature and the company’s name on the door.

Ms. Monen, a former teacher who worked with special-needs children, and Mr. Monen, who previously worked at PayPal, said they have completed small improvements to the home over the years but haven’t made any major changes. Sitting among neat gardens, the house has light Tudor timberwork on the facade. An entry archway is framed in decorative brickwork. Inside, a double-height living room has white beamed ceilings, a fireplace and stairs leading to a small wrought-iron Juliet balcony that overlooks the space. There is also a formal dining room, a screened-in patio and a basement wet bar.

The Monens said they have rented the house out to visitors attending the Berkshire Hathaway annual shareholder meeting, nicknamed “The Woodstock of Capitalism.” During the meeting, they usually get some attendees coming to the house to take selfies, the Monens said. They understand the enthusiasm: They are shareholders in Berkshire Hathaway, too.

The Monens said they are selling to take advantage of the booming real-estate market in the Omaha area.

“Like any major metropolitan area right now, there’s just a very large shortage of homes,” said their real-estate agent, Jessica Dembinski. “We’re about 6,000 houses short of where the demand is currently.”

Ms. Dembinski said she isn’t sure how much the Buffett connection will affect the value of the home.

“We are starting showings right before the annual meeting at the end of the month,” she said. “There will probably be some interest from people who are attending that. But we also kind of have a gut feeling that the buyer might live in Omaha.”

Katherine Clarke is a reporter covering residential real estate for The Wall Street Journal. She is a graduate of Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism and Trinity College Dublin. She previously covered real estate for The Real Deal and the New York Daily News.

Speak Your Mind