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Long after he became a billionaire, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg still rented modest digs. But now one of Silicon Valley's top tech celebrities has become a first-time homeowner, recently buying a large house in Palo Alto that is a 10-minute drive from what will soon be Facebook's new corporate campus in Menlo Park.

Zuckerberg has lived in Palo Alto almost continuously since he moved Facebook to Silicon Valley straight from his Harvard dorm room in 2004. Now, with the fast-growing company preparing for a widely expected initial public stock offering and a move into its first permanent home in the former Sun Microsystems campus, Zuckerberg also appears to be settling down.

While the subject of the Hollywood hit "The Social Network" isn't expected to move in for several months, his new home in a leafy and affluent Palo Alto neighborhood has more than 5,000 square feet, with a saltwater pool, a music alcove and five bedrooms for when friends and family of the Facebook founder come to visit.

Sources close to Facebook confirmed that Zuckerberg bought a house in Palo Alto, but declined to say which one. The real estate transaction did not close under Zuckerberg's name. However, public records requests revealed a trail of clues leading to a property purchased for $7 million. This newspaper is not printing the address because of concerns for the privacy of the sellers, who still live there, and Zuckerberg.


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Despite becoming one of the most famous young businessmen in the world -- a guest on Oprah and "60 Minutes," and the host to President Barack Obama when he recently visited Facebook -- the 26-year-old son of a dentist from Dobbs Ferry, N.Y., has managed to hold on to an everyday life in Palo Alto more like that of a typical Silicon Valley startup entrepreneur.

He is frequently seen in public places, such as local farmers markets and restaurants around Palo Alto, and while the house in his new neighborhood will be significantly larger than his rentals, it is still not on the level of some tech billionaires. Oracle (ORCL) Chairman Larry Ellison has an 8,000-square-foot estate in Woodside, which is based on a Japanese emperor's 16th-century country residence.

Zuckerberg told a New Yorker writer last year that he had found all his rental homes on Craigslist. Tyler Winklevoss, one of the blue-blood Harvard twins whose claim Zuckerberg stole their idea for Facebook has led to a long and so far fruitless legal battle, was quoted in the magazine describing him as "the poorest rich person I've ever seen in my life."

So the new home, which includes five full baths, a spacious porch and glassed-in sunroom, would seem to represent a significant change in Zuckerberg's lifestyle. Set back and shielded from the street by a wall and trees, the new home certainly offers more privacy than Zuckerberg's current address. In January, he had to get a restraining order against a disturbed Milpitas man who showed up on his front doorstep, waited outside his office and left a note at one point that said: "I am ready to die for you, please, Mark, please."

Palo Alto is the home of a number of other tech CEOs, including Apple's (AAPL) Steve Jobs and Google's (GOOG) Larry Page.

Contact Mike Swift at 408-271-3648. Follow him at Twitter.com/swiftstories.