‘Jewel Box’ Homes Become Hot Trend in Luxury Sector

December 18, 2019

More luxury homeowners are being drawn to “jewel box” homes, smaller footprints that are souped up with amenities and upscale, deluxe finishes, The Wall Street Journal reports.

The number of new luxury homes of 3,000 square feet or less has jumped nearly 20% since 2013. That has corresponded to a decrease in large, high-priced homes, according to data from Home Innovation Research Labs, a subsidiary of the National Association of Home Builders.

“Empty nesters want to downsize, but they want luxury homes, not starter homes—luxury kitchens, marble surfaces, all the latest and greatest,” Tim Costello, CEO of Builder Homesite, told The Wall Street Journal.

Some home buyers may not want to deal with the hassles of maintaining a large home so opt for smaller options, housing analysts add.

However, The Wall Street Journal reports that finding new-home construction that fits the jewel box profile can be difficult. More builders are starting to experiment with them though. In Georgetown, Texas, just outside of Austin, builders are testing smaller luxury homes in the range of 2,034 to 2,564 square feet. Sitterle Homes has sold about 40 such garden homes in the town's Cimarron Hills, a private country club community, over the last five years. Prices range from $460,000 to $825,000.

"Now that the kids are gone, they are looking to right-size," Brian Shields, a partner with Sitterle Homes and president of its Austin division, told The Wall Street Journal about the types of customers that are most drawn to the luxury smaller homes. "They still want high design and nicer appointments and finishes."

Jennifer Bunsa, an interior designer, and her husband purchased a two-bedroom, 2,400-square-foot home in Miami in 2013 for $495,000 and has spent more than $280,000 renovating it. They added custom walnut cabinetry and a ceiling-high slab of Calacatta gold marble for a backsplash, and have been knocking down walls in their remodel. “The small footprint allowed us to spend extra on details that would otherwise have been spent on a fourth or 10th bedroom,” she told The Wall Street Journal.

Luxury Homeowners Put a Ring on Jewel-Box Homes,” The Wall Street Journal (Dec. 11, 2019) [Log-in required.]