Home Research The Rise of the Millionaire Homeowner: Number of Ultra-Wealthy U.S. Owners Quadruples in 5 Years
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The Rise of the Millionaire Homeowner: Number of Ultra-Wealthy U.S. Owners Quadruples in 5 Years

Households that earn at least $1 million are one of the fastest-growing income groups.

by Andra Hopulele
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  • America’s Richest Families: The number of households that earn at least $1 million more than quadrupled between 2017 and 2022. 
  • After adding more than 100,000, the total number of households that earned a seven-figure salary reached 136,697.
  • Generational Wealth: Of the 322,356 people living in these ultra-rich households, the majority are Gen Xers.
  • Baby Boomers were in the lead in 2017, but they’re losing ground: Currently, almost four in 10 millionaire homeowners are Gen Xers, followed closely by Baby Boomers (three in 10) and Millennials (two in 10).
  • The Profile of the Millionaire Owner: The “typical” millionaire homeowner is a 50-year-old chief executive or physician who lives in San Francisco or New York, owns a $1.8-million, 10-room, five-bedroom home and has three cars. 

Earning $1 million sounds like an impossible dream to many, but more and more American families are doing it. Just how many more? Well, our most recent analysis of IPUMS data showed that millionaire owner households jumped by 446%, from a rather modest 30,000 households across the U.S. in 2017 to more than 136,000 households in 2022.

This means households who report making at least $1 million from the different sources at their disposal (meaning any combination of salary, income from an estate or trust, interest, dividends, royalties, and rents received etc.), are on the rise.

 

 

With 322,356 people living in 136,697 millionaire, owner-occupied households, it appears that ultra-wealthy homeowners are one of the fastest growing income brackets in the country. And, it’s not just the number of households that quadrupled from 2017 to 2022: In that five-year period, the number of people living in these households also rose more than four times.

But, just like not all who wander are lost, not all who live in a millionaire owner-occupied household are millionaire homeowners (Gen Z young adults still living with their parents come to mind). That said, the financial and social advantages of being part of a household in the 99th percentile are undeniable.

The even better part? In analyzing the net and percentage changes in all income brackets, it seems as though it’s not just the niche group of millionaire owners that’s rising: Due to growing incomes, the number of households in other high-income brackets is also going up, while the segment of families who earn less than $75,000 is falling.

 

 

In terms of net numbers, there’s no denying that many owner households still make less than $50,000. However, looking at the trends, changes, and especially the exchanges between groups, it becomes obvious that, in the five-year period between 2017 and 2022, many households have updated their salaries and (hopefully) their quality of life.

 

Profile of the Millionaire Owner: Who Are the People Living the Ultra-Rich Life?

Wealthy owner households — meaning households that earn $150,000 or more — grew by 9 million between 2017 and 2022, a 72% increase. The more glamorous sub-group of millionaire owner households rose at an incomparably faster pace, more than quadrupling in the same period.

But, who are the people living in these households? Who are the newest and luckiest members of the millionaire club, the people making up the wealthiest families across the country?

 

Millionaire Owner profile fv

The “average” U.S. millionaire is a Gen Xer. He or she is 50 years old and, together with their family, owns a 10-room, five-bedroom home estimated at around $1.8 million. Also, their garage houses around 3 cars and chances are that they're a chief executive or physician.

Although Baby Boomers used to boast the largest share of ultra-wealthy owners, younger generations are catching up and even overtaking them. Gen X currently leads the hyper-exclusive club with a share of 37.4%. Baby Boomers grew to around 93,000, representing 28.9% of all millionaire owners in the country, while the 63,000 Millennial millionaires (up from a measly 9,000 in 2017) make up 19.7% of all ultra-high earners.

The elephant in the room, however, is represented by the youngest generation: Data shows that Gen Z millionaire owners represent 10% of all high-earning owners in the U.S. If only that could be real. Instead, this high share is most likely almost entirely due to the people aged 15 to 24 who are still living with their (millionaire) owner parents. Unfortunately, living in a millionaire owner household does not a millionaire owner make — but it does come with some serious perks.

 

Where Do the Millionaire Owners Live?

The endlessly quotable Beth Dutton character on the "Yellowstone" TV show said that Montana boasted the most affluent people: “It’s the greatest concentration of wealth in the United States. Not New York, not LA, right here. I could throw a boomerang across the room and hit five billionaires.”

Yet, outside of the fictional world of Yellowstone, real data points in a less surprising direction: It really is all about coastal hubs. Metros like New York; San Francisco; Los Angeles; Boston; and Washington, D.C. have the highest numbers and also the highest concentrations of millionaire households. For instance, in the New York metro alone, no fewer than 26,561 households have an income of at least $1 million.

Of course, their salary is most probably just one of many sources of income for these ultra-high earning households, but earning six-figure salaries is no small feat. So, what are the jobs that the Millennials, Gen Xers and Baby Boomers living in these wealthy households are going to every single day? As you might expect, many of them are chief executives, judges, lawyers and physicians. But, there are also many software developers, engineers, and managers, as well as athletes, data scientists, statisticians, insurance sales agents and inspectors.

 

What Homes Do Millionaire Owners Prefer?

In short, the biggest homes their money can buy. And, because it's millionaires we're talking about, we're exiting the world of condos, single-family homes and even penthouses and entering the universe of the mansion: The average home of millionaires will have 10 rooms, which means that some rich families have slightly less square footage at their disposal, while others roam around mega-mansions boasting even more bedrooms, bathrooms and dressing rooms than that.

The average millionaire would also put their home at around $1.8 million, but this value differs greatly depending on the city: Millionaires living in San Francisco; Los Angeles; and San Diego estimate their homes are worth north of $2.5 million, whereas the ultra-rich who own homes in San Antonio-New Braunfels, TX; Pittsburgh; and Cincinnati believe their homes are worth less than $1 million.

Granted, with big money and big homes come big lifestyles and big expenses. And, according to some financial analyses, these lifestyles could be truly costing them. Looking at the budget of a family earning $500,000, Financial Samurai pointed out a few of the reasons why they may still feel pressured to earn even more to keep up, which could apply even to households that earn double that:

Thousands of households living in expensive cities are running on this never-ending treadmill. [...] They've got big mortgages, private school tuition to pay, and fancy cars to drive. No matter how much they make, these households tend to spend all their income and not save as much as they should. Now with inflation running near 40-year highs, important costs are simply going up further.

Millionaire owners and their families are earning even more than the couple with two children in Financial Samurai's analysis, but chances are that many of them are running on the same treadmill simply because they can afford more.

More money doesn't usually mean more savings. Rather, it just means bigger homes with bigger mortgages and maintenance expenses; more cars; much costlier schools; and more over-the-top lifestyles, which simply bite bigger chunks out of the family's big budget.

However, despite the "risks," most of us would probably choose to have rich people problems. Or, as the saying goes, crying in a Ferrari might just feel better than crying in a Toyota when all is said and done.

 

Methodology

Point2, a division of Yardi Systems Inc., covers real estate trends and news. Point2 studies are based on internal data, public records, governmental sources, online research, and other reliable third-party agencies.

  • For this study, we looked at the number of millionaire owner households between 2017 and 2022, using the 5-year estimates IPUMS data, in the 30 most populous U.S. metros.
  • Additionally, for context, we analyzed the number of high-income owner households (meaning households with an annual income greater than $150,000), as well as all the lower income brackets from U.S. Census data.
  • We consider "millionaire owners" householders that together have a cumulated household annual income greater than $1,000,000 and own a condo or a house. 
  • In calculating the number and share of millionaire owners by generation, we only considered members of the household above working age (15+), with an individual income greater than $0.
  • Millionaire owners data was extracted from the IPUMS Survey Documentation and Analysis (SDA) tool for 2022 and 2017, 5-year estimates, using the following variables: Household Income (pre-tax), Individual Income (pre-tax), Home Ownership Status, Age, Occupation, Owner Assessed Value, Number of rooms, Number of bedrooms, Number of cars, and Metro Area.
  • Age, Occupation, and Population frequency distribution in generations estimates were generated for individuals. The number of millionaire owner households, the owner assessed home value, the average number of rooms, the average number of bedrooms, and the average number of cars were estimated for households.
  • IPUMS means Integrated Public Use Microdata Series and provides census and survey data from around the world integrated across time and space. IPUMS is a part of the Institute for Social Research and Data Innovation at the University of Minnesota.  
  • Steven Ruggles, Sarah Flood, Matthew Sobek, Daniel Backman, Annie Chen, Grace Cooper, Stephanie Richards, Renae Rodgers, and Megan Schouweiler. IPUMS USA: Version 15.0 [dataset]. Minneapolis, MN: IPUMS, 2024. https://doi.org/10.18128/D010.V15.0

 

Fair use and redistribution

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