Harvard's Joint Center for Housing Studies discovered that as the number and value of pricey homes rises in this country, “million-dollar homes have become increasingly common.” Indeed, the Census Bureau realized that its top category of property value for primary residences needed to be upgraded, from “$500,000 or more” in 1990 to “$1,000,000 or more” in 2000. The increase in million-dollar homes is a combination of the increased caliber of homes and the rising value of existing homes.

So who are the million-dollar home buyers? Overwhelmingly, they are non-Hispanic whites. One out of 72 white homeowners has a million dollar house, the Harvard study asserts.

In addition, these homeowners are between 45 and 64 years old. Few are retired. The average annual household income of the million-dollar homeowner is $900,000, according to a survey of consumer finances, and their median home loan amount is $400,000. But many of the buyers pay in cash. A Coldwell Banker survey in 2003 found that 31 percent of the people who had bought million-dollar homes had paid entirely in cash. Even so, they had money left over: More than half of those surveyed said they planned to do renovations.