A new generation of rich homebuyers powered by a surge in inherited wealth is driving the luxury-home market in the United States, demanding larger spaces and fancier finishes, according to a report heralding “the rise of the new aristocracy”.

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Prospective homebuyers younger than 50 account for most of those shopping for homes priced at US$1 million or more, according to the report. Nearly a quarter of high-net-worth consumers aged 25 to 49 said they would look for at least 20,000 square feet when they made their next home purchase; it was just 6 per cent for respondents 50 or older. The report is based on a survey of more than 500 consumers with at least US$1 million in investible assets, conducted last month on behalf of Luxury Portfolio International, a network of real estate brokerages.

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Other home features deemed “essential” by a large share of these new aristocrats include hot tubs, at 45 per cent; commercial-grade kitchen appliances, at 52 per cent; and multiple-view security cameras, at 54 per cent. Proximity to good restaurants was the most important community amenity in the survey results – followed by proximity to family.

Three of five respondents younger than 50 said they expect to inherit at least US$1 million, with an average inheritance of US$3.8 million. Thanks to a tax provision passed under George W. Bush, a lot of that wealth is available sooner to today’s heirs. More than 171,000 families gave gifts of at least US$1 million from 2011 to 2014, according to the report, a giant leap from about 7,600 families who made US$1 million gifts from 2007 to 2010. Another boost will come from the new tax law, which cuts taxes on the rich, and a booming stock market that is translating into demand for luxury homes.

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The housing market has already responded to the demand for larger homes. In the years following the foreclosure crisis, builders focused on erecting larger, higher-end houses and condominiums, exacerbating a shortage of homes that entry-level buyers could afford. Median homes sizes have pulled back slightly since a peak in 2015, but today’s new homes are still nearly 50 per cent larger than when the US Census Bureau started keeping track in the late 1970s.