When you think of celebrities who live in Laguna Beach who comes to mind? The list might include people like Lauren Conrad, one of the stars from Laguna Beach: The Real Orange County, or other tanned and fit A-listers. The coastal hot spot attracts many wealthy occupants, both for vacation and for buying real estate.
True to the rest of his success, Warren Buffett, currently worth an estimated $76 billion, apparently had an inkling of the success to come to the beach town well before others did. The guru investor and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway bought a beach house with an ocean view in Laguna Beach in 1971. He’s asking $11 million for that property almost five decades later.
Although it might seem that a swanky beach home in a star-studded neighborhood is a break from character for the famously frugal billionaire, the home’s listing indicates exactly why this house was in Buffett’s portfolio in the first place. Want to see what we mean? Take a look at nine photos from the multi-million-dollar property.
How can Warren Buffett own a million-dollar property when he’s famously lived in the same Omaha residence since 1958? Buffett bought his primary home in Nebraska for $31,500 at that time (around $250,000 in today’s dollars). And he hasn’t given any indication of moving since then.
According to the TODAY show, Buffett has been very clear about why he doesn’t own more personal real estate. At times, he’s even been snarky about it. “How would I improve my life by having 10 houses around the globe?” he said. “If I wanted to become a superintendent of housing … I could have as a profession, but I don’t want to manage 10 houses, and I don’t want somebody else doing it for me, and I don’t know why the hell I’d be happier.”
Like most of Buffett’s financial decisions, the beach house in California has held up as a good investment. Although $11 million is starkly different from the $865,800 value of his Omaha residence, the investor only paid $150,000 for the Laguna Beach property 46 years ago.
According to the Wall Street Journal, Buffett originally bought the beach house simply because his wife liked it — not just as an investment. Still, it’s clear that in selling the property, Buffett is still thinking like an investor. Our first cue? Not-so-subtle product placement.
In several photos, viewers can play “I Spy” — except instead of looking for a thumbtack or unicorn figurine, they can look for the Coca-Cola products in the room. In this shot of a living room, we see a full bottle of Coke perched alongside a copy of the Wall Street Journal — another favorite of Buffett’s. Berkshire Hathaway owns a 9.1% stake in Coca-Cola, the company’s third-largest holding. Buffett first invested in the beverage company in 1988 and has always been a strident supporter of the brand.
“We expect to hold [it] for a long time. In fact, when we own portions of outstanding businesses with outstanding managements, our favorite holding period is forever,” Buffett wrote in a letter to shareholders in 1988.
Many of the rooms in the beach house listing are pictured as relatively bare, except for a few pieces of abstract art and mostly modern furnishings. In this bedroom, however, we see another nod to Buffett’s business acumen, with the same Wall Street Journal copy popping up again in the armchair.
American’s most well known financial publication isn’t Buffett’s only reading material. The Oracle of Omaha credits much of his ongoing success to reading all kinds of information. He says he spends about 80% of his time reading books, newspapers, and other material. The same likely goes for any beach time he spent in this house, too.
Who doesn’t love an ocean view? Buffett’s home looks out onto Emerald Bay, a private beach area that’s only open to residents of the gated Emerald Bay community. The home’s aesthetic views are a major selling point in the real estate listing on Redfin.
“Terrific views of the sand, surf and the rocks of the south point of beautiful Emerald Bay are enjoyed from most rooms in the home,” the listing states.
Just how big is Buffett’s beach house? According to the listing, the home is 3,588 square feet with 6 bedrooms and 5.5 baths. Two of the bedrooms have separate entrances to the home — a selling point for anyone who might want to entertain guests who can come and go as they please. The custom home was built in 1936, has a modern feel throughout, and has an oversized deck that overlooks the ocean vista.
Although not every room in the beach house has a nod to Buffett’s many business holdings, this living room does. According to Redfin, it’s likely a bit of nostalgia for the investor.
“The unique choice of a large See’s Candy cutout in the living room may be a call out to his 1972 purchase of the established candy company,” Redfin attests. Berkshire Hathaway has continued to own the West Coast-based candy company since then, and See’s garners praise from Buffett on several occasions.
“The ideal business is one that takes no capital and yet grows,” Buffett said at a shareholder’s meeting in 2016. “And there are a few businesses like that, and we own some.” See’s is one of them because it doesn’t require much new equipment but continues to spread its brand name. Berkshire Hathaway bought the company for $25 million, but in more recent years the company has had sales of $376 million and profits of $83 million.
In this kitchen complete with clean lines all around, I spy three Coke glasses on the counter. Frugal to the bone, it’s likely Buffett couldn’t pass up the opportunity for free advertising when he saw one. This likely isn’t just because Buffett wants to earn money from his stock investment: He also truly loves the classic soda.
In fact, Buffett has vigorously defended his company’s continued support of the brand, even as detractors say soda and other sugary beverages could be the reason for numerous health issues, such as obesity. Buffett, 86, continues to drink Coke frequently. “I’m about one-quarter Coca-Cola,” he said at a shareholder meeting in 2016. He added he has seen no evidence that switching to “water and broccoli” would make it easier for him to make it to age 100.
According to the listing photos, Buffett’s family keeps the beach home in pristine condition, with few personal articles included in the photos. In that light, the Star Wars light box picture in this bedroom is a bit of an anomaly.
The picture doesn’t allude to any public holdings Buffett has. The investor famously bought stock in Disney in 1966 and then sold it a year later. Perhaps he simply likes the franchise, his family does, or the real estate photographer decided to make us all wonder about it. No matter the reason, we see a little bit more personality in this room.
Although Buffett’s beach home isn’t technically oceanfront property, it’s a short walk within the gated community to this scenic view of the Pacific in Emerald Bay. With a picturesque view like this, it’s little wonder why the photo made it into the official listing.
The beach chairs shaded by the umbrella bring to mind a famous Buffett quote that highlights his entire investing philosophy: “Someone is sitting in the shade today because someone planted a tree a long time ago.” Yes, there’s literal shade under a tree and under that beach umbrella. But the idea is that to yield returns, you first have to think ahead and invest properly. If the Laguna Beach property sells for anywhere close to the asking price, that will definitely ring true in the case of Buffett’s beach house.