Californians own 41 percent of the nation's million-dollar homes, and designer kitchens are the most important amenity to luxury homebuyers, according to two separate recently released reports.

There are some 313,759 million-dollar-plus homes in the country, according to the National Association of Homebuilders , which analyzed data from the 2000 Census. Some 128,000 of those are in California with a huge gap between second-place New York, which is home to 22,327 high-end homes. Florida was third with just over 18,000 million-dollar homes, or 5.8 percent; Connecticut fourth with 13,900, or 4.4 percent; and Illinois fifth with 12,400, or 3.9 percent.

"It's no surprise that California has cornered the market on million-dollar homes," said Jerry Howard, CEO and Executive Vice President of the NAHB. "However, the sheer concentration of million-dollar residences in just a few states may be greater than most people had realized."

California's share of million-dollar homes appears poised to mount.

"In light of our state's strong rate of home appreciation, ever-increasing demand, and rising land and regulatory costs, I'd venture that the number of million-dollar homes here has probably doubled since the 2000 Census," said Bob Rivinius, CEO of the California Building Industry Association.

The top five states accounted for 26.5 percent of the nation's houses, but more than 62 percent of its million-dollar homes.

On the other end of the spectrum, you'll only find 51 million-dollar homes in North Dakota and 129 in South Dakota.

The NAHB points out that a million-dollar home in the Dakotas is different than its counterpart in California.

"Growth controls and regulatory barriers have been on a collision path with an unrelenting demand for housing in high-cost markets like California," said Howard. "Consequently, the underlying costs of building new homes have soared, which also pushes existing-home values up across the board. So a million-dollar home in California may be comparably equipped to a high six-figure home in some other market - the difference being entirely in land and regulatory costs."

Meanwhile, a separate report issued by Coldwell Banker sheds additional light on who these million-dollar buyers are.

The survey found that 31.5 percent of these buyers plopped down cash to pay for their homes. And 17 percent placed a down payment of 50 percent or more.

The top profession among luxury homeowners is business executive of a large corporation. Other frequent professions include doctors, bankers, lawyers, stockbrokers, actors, musicians and inventors. The survey describes some 68 percent of these luxury-home buyers as "new money."

When it comes to the age of these buyers, most fall into the more-likely-to-be-affluent Baby Boomer demographic (between 35 and 55). But another 28 percent are buying up to a million-dollar home beyond 55.

Some 89 percent of luxury home buyers want four or five bedrooms and most luxury homes sold in the past year were between 4,000 and 6,000 square feet.

And when it comes to the lavish amenities that make up these homes, designer kitchens are the top priority.

Joan McCloskey, editorial marketing director of Better Homes and Gardens magazine, reminded homebuilders about the kitchen's importance at the International Builders Show, held earlier this year.

The desires of those of us who own homes worth less than $1 million often mimics what we see in luxury homes and on the pages of magazines.

"A typical upscale kitchen remodeling includes granite counters - honed granite preferably, stainless appliances, a hardwood or porcelain tile floor, and cherry or maple cabinets," she said. "If a countertop isn't honed granite, it's probably soapstone, another soft material that, so far, has met with high approval by the person that does the cooking and cleaning."

Center islands are growing in size, farmhouse sinks are taking over the cleanup area, appliances are sleek, cabinetry is simple with Shaker or Asian influences.

"Appliances continue to mushroom," McCloskey says. "After being on the market for a couple of years, warming drawers are more beloved than ever. We see more Fisher & Paykel dishwasher drawers, SubZero refrigerator drawers, and wine refrigerators.

"But homeowners also want all of this stuff out-of-sight which is why butler's pantries have seen a rebirth. Islands are big partially to hide a double set of dishwashers and the warming drawer."

Following kitchens, the top five most requested amenities are media/entertainment room with theater-style seating, wine cellar, tennis courts and basketball courts, indoor pool, and ballroom/cigar room.

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