We had one question for Phil Huston about his house listing, and it didn't seem to surprise him a bit. His affable answer: "Yes, it is for real."
He lives across the street from billionaire "Oracle of Omaha" Warren Buffett's longtime home in the Dundee neighborhood, and five days ago, Huston put his house up for sale. The timing was no coincidence: It was just before Berkshire Hathaway's annual shareholder's meeting — practically a holiday in Omaha, temporarily swelling the city's population by 10 percent as about 40,000 people pour in from all over the world. Some folks call it the Woodstock of capitalism, and this year's was even more festive than usual, marking the 50th anniversary of Buffett's purchase of Berkshire Hathaway.
Huston's asking price might sound modest, if you're not terribly familiar with Berkshire Hathaway: Just 10 shares of Berkshire Hathaway (Class A) would do the trick. He's not asking for cash at all; instead, "stocks is what I'd prefer."
Of course, Buffett has never split the stock price in the 50 years he's been running the company. So a single share is going for about $220,000 at the time of this writing, which is almost enough to buy two median-price Omaha houses.
"Ten shares seemed like a nice, motivating number to me," Huston told Yahoo Homes, tongue partially in cheek. He acknowledged that there's "a bit of a premium" in the price but pointed out that for his audience of people likely to see the house over the weekend, "that is the currency they have."
"We tried to approach this with a sense of humor" that was in keeping with the "festive nature of the weekend," he said. "I don't know how else to run a social experiment."
And the fact that the price amounts to almost precisely what a Singapore man bid on eBay last year to have lunch with Buffett? "Just happenstance," Huston said.
Huston spends about half the year in British Columbia, where he and his wife, Anne, run a wilderness resort that they call the Chilko Experience, so "we're not in a hurry to leave or anything like that." They've owned the Omaha house since 1994. He figures if it sells, great, and if it doesn't, there's a small chance they'll make it a yearly experiment. "Once and done is probably pretty good, but we'll see," he said.
He said so far there's been quite a bit of attention, with "some people nibbling around the edges," but no concrete interest. The house, on a third of an acre, was built in 1922 and has about 7,000 square feet of living space including the 2,000-square-foot basement.
Just to be clear: "I do not know Mr. Buffett," Huston said, so a potential buyer shouldn't expect any introductions.
On the other hand, lots of important people come to town for the meeting, and a fair number of them find their way to the Dundee neighborhood to see the five-bedroom house where Buffett still lives, 57 years after he bought it. You can "sit here on the sidewalk and meet hedge fund managers," power brokers and more, Huston said. "I met a Rockefeller ... hanging out with his buds." The Rockefeller advised him to put an ad in the Hong Kong financial papers if the house doesn't sell.
Also on Yahoo Homes:
• 90,000-square-foot Florida 'Versailles,' nation's largest home, is back from the brink (55 photos)
• Bizarre answer to 'ghost city' problem: rent-a-foreigner (video, 13 photos)
• Chair sells for $3.7M, not 'intended to be comfortable' (14 photos)