This week, The Los Angeles Times reported that luxury home sales in California rose 26.9% last year. This phenomenal jump, explained the Time's Lauren Beale, is due in large part to the return of investor confidence in the market. "Sales are up because well-heeled U.S. and international buyers, confident that the housing recovery is solid, are looking for places to park their cash ..." writes Beale. Specifically, international spending on real estate in the U.S. rose an additional 24%. The future appears even brighter; Bloomberg News reports that some economists predict that housing prices will rise 7.2% nationwide this coming year, marking the highest national gain since 2007. While home values across California rose an average of 8% in 2012, this number is still nearly 40% below the market's high in early 2006, making now the ideal time to buy for consumers and investors alike.