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Millionaires Mock Manhattan's Misery

It's that time of the quarter again, when monied Manhattanites bemoan the continued loss of their net worth, thanks to their previously sky-high real estate values falling down the airshaft to around the 8th floor. Pick a report, Halstead, Brown Harris Stevens, Prudential Douglas Elliman. They all tell the tale of bereft bankers and tres triste trophy wives.

The reports differ quite a bit for Q3, showing the median price of a Manhattan apartment down anywhere from 9 to 14 percent from a year ago and time on the market is still quite high, around 125 to 180 days. But sales are way up from the past quarter, anywhere from 55 to 70 percent, depending on which report you believe. Inventories are easing a bit, which is a good sign, and like the rest of the country, the price declines are leveling off. The median price of a Manhattan apartment is around $750,000-850,000.

So given all these nasty numbers, I have to share another report with you that I received from a publicist named Stacy:

Findings of survey are exposed in new book by #1 bestselling author Thomas Stanley, Ph.D.—"STOP ACTING RICH…And Start Living Like a Real Millionaire."

In the U.S., there are nearly three times more millionaires living in homes that have a market value of under $300,000 than there are living in homes valued at $1 million or more, finds a new survey conducted by Dr. Thomas Stanley, America's #1 authority on the wealthy, published exclusively in his new book STOP ACTING RICH.

And I'm loving some of his stats:

  • Sixty-four percent of all real millionaires have never owned a second house—not even a rustic log cabin in the woods, but second homes accounted for 4 of 10 residential home sales in 2005. According to the National Association of Realtors, the typical second-home buyer was 52 years of age and had a median household income of $80,600.
  • Typical millionaires have an outstanding mortgage balance of less than one-third of the market value of their home.
  • The ratio of wealth building productivity is inversely related to the market value of one's own home as well as those of one's neighbors. Once the market value begins to move up beyond the $500,000 level, wealth building productivity moves into the unproductive range.
  • Happy people tend to live well below their means: 91 percent of millionaires living in homes valued at under $400,000 say they are extremely satisfied with life.
  • High-net-worth low-profile millionaires who accumulate wealth without overspending are most commonly found in the Midwest and the South and are scarcest in the Northeast and California.
  • Home values exploded between 1997 and 2007. As a result, so did the population of enhanced millionaires. Eight percent of American household had an augmented net worth of $1 million or more due to real estate appreciation. Now they don’t. However, “home real estate” only accounted for about 27 percent of the overall portfolio of millionaires surveyed by Dr. Stanley.

I realize, of course, that this is all the same premise as the The Millionaire Next Door, by Thomas J. Stanley and William D. Danko, which garnered so much interest in those less heady, less boomy days, pre-tech and real estate bubbles, but I thought it was worth repeating.

Questions? Comments? RealtyCheck@cnbc.com