According to the Wall Street Journal, buying smaller homes and fitting them out with luxury finishes may be turning into a trend with well-healed home buyers. The "jewel box" home emphasizes fine finishes and fixtures but delivered in smaller packages that require less maintenance. Changing demographics may be playing a role as Census data shows more than half of all households now consist of single people with traditional nuclear families accounting for just 20%

So after buying the three-bedroom house for $576,000 in 2014, Mr. Frick gave it a $265,000 makeover, putting in a new kitchen with quartzite counters and Gaggenau appliances, a marble bar and a mahogany deck with an outdoor entertainment system.

Ms. Bunsa, who bought the two-bedroom Miami house from her father in 2013, has been renovating it in stages over the years, spending more than $280,000 to date. “The small footprint allowed us to spend extra on details that would otherwise have been spent on a fourth, or 10th, bedroom,” he said.

The jewel-box home—small, but loaded with amenities and costly finishes—is luring more home buyers. An analysis by Home Innovation Research Labs, a subsidiary of the National Association of Home Builders, found that the number of new-construction luxury homes at 3,000 square feet or less has increased nearly 20% since 2013—with a corresponding decline in larger-size, high-price homes.

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