How To Tell You’re Not Super Rich: Home Improvement Edition


Recently we reviewed how by comparing your boat to the boats (excuse me, superyachts) of the very wealthy, you can determine without question that you are indeed not Super Rich. Today Wealth-X released a global survey of Ultra High Net Worth (UHNW) real estate habits enabling us to offer you some land-based comparisons, or in other words, “How To Know You’re Not Super Rich: Home Improvement Edition.

There are 211,000 Ultra High Net Worth individuals globally, according to Wealth-X, and they own an average of 2.7 primary residences, or in total 569,700 homes. The combined value is $2.9 trillion meaning that the average home price is slightly over $5 million per. I can imagine that eliminates some of us right out of the box.

Wealth-X puts global Super Rich wealth at $30 trillion, so “owner-occupied residential real estate” represents about 10 percent of their total net worth.  Other researches put it as high as $50 trillion.  In that case, real estate would be closer to six percent.  By comparison, if you were worth $2 million, that would mean the value of all your homes are $120,000 to $200,000.

After the super rich have moved into to their new pad, they certainly do not need to cut back in other areas of spending. Over my 14 years running Elite Traveler I would often hear stories from friends in the hotel business about how after buying a $10 million apartment, a family would live in a luxury hotel for anywhere from six months to over a year so they wouldn’t have to be in the new home during renovations.

Previous research by Wealth-X backs this up.  Last year, it released a survey showing UHNWs spent $234 billion on luxury lifestyle products and services, only $8 billion around-the-house.

Now back to you, me and the Super Rich:  The average sale price of existing homes in the U.S. as of December was $209,500. The average new home price was $377,800. Both figures include the vaunted one percent and of course the Super Rich skewing the numbers up.

Average net worth for all Americans is $534,600, again including UHNWs. The net worth of the top 10 percent is $3.3 million, but again that is mostly skewed by the upper reaches of the one percent.

Looking at it a couple different ways, depending on whether one is buying a new home or existing home, the house probably represents between 71and 39 percent of net net worth. University of California at Berkeley researcher Emanuel Saenz breaks out the net worth of those 14.4 million households between 1 and 10 percent, so excluding the 1.6 million in the one percent gang. The average wealth of the “next” nine percent is $1.3 million with an entry point of $660,000

In other words if you were in the 10th percent slot ($660,000 net worth) and own an average priced new house ($377,800), that would mean your homestead represents 57 percent of your net worth.

Obviously pricing is highly dependent upon where you live as are salaries unless you are in the Super Rich, where you have found a way to make lots of money wherever you happen to be from. For $400,000 in New York City you can get a 450-square foot studio in northern Manhattan whereas for the same price tag you can have 3,500 square feet and five bedrooms on a golf course in Tucson.

For many in the Mass Affluent who can afford it, a second home means a cabin by the lake, a modest abode a few blocks from the beach or perhaps a condo near the slopes. For the Super Rich, not so much. Wealth-X reports their second homes are 45 percent more valuable than their primary residence, twice the square footage and are likely to be on at least 10 acres.

If you still need another comparison, the average American household spends $2,300 per year on home improvements compared to over over $500,000 per year for the very wealthy.

The over 50-page report has a treasure of information on the Super Rich by country of nationality, global shifts, hot spots and so forth making it a must read for any luxury marketer.

Most of all, for marketers, I think it clearly underlines, no matter how much the Super Rich spend on any one thing, they remain the only consumer segment that does not have to choose, and with some savvy marketing attention, may even spend lots with your company.

Some highlights are below:

  • 79% of the world’s UHNW individuals own two or more properties and just over half of them own three or more residences.
  • UHNW individuals are increasing the number of properties they hold outside their home countries with the United States, United Kingdom and Switzerland being the three favorite locations.
  • Over 7% of the world’s UHNW population have made their wealth through the real estate industry, up from 5% in 2013.
  • The UHNW Residential Real Estate Index shows a 8% increase in the value of UHNW-owned residences globally in the past year.
  • The United States is the most popular country for foreign UHNW individuals looking to buy secondary residences.
  • New York is the city with the highest number of UHNW-owned residences in the world.
  • Monaco has the highest density of foreign-owned UHNW residences – 83%.
  • Female UHNW individuals value real estate assets more than their male counterparts, holding 16% of their net worth in such assets compared to less than 10% for men.
  • UHNW Chinese and Russian multiple homeowners are typically self-made and young – these two clusters are becoming increasingly important buyers of luxury residential real estate around the world.
  • Over 6% of the world’s UHNW population is made up of expatriates – those individuals who are currently based outside their home countries. These individuals are stimulating residential real estate demand in their home countries’ markets
    – for example, India’s non-resident population is increasing demand in Mumbai’s residential real estate market.

About Doug Gollan

I am Editor-in-Chief of Private Jet Card Comparisons and DG Amazing Experiences, and a Contributor to
This entry was posted in Home Furnishings/Shelter, real estate, superrich, uhnw and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to How To Tell You’re Not Super Rich: Home Improvement Edition

  1. Pingback: For Luxury Marketers, A Canary In The Coal Mine. But Which Way To Clear Air? | Doug Gollan: Selling to the Super Rich — Ideas, Research and News for luxury marketers

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s