Is Luxury Making a Comeback?

Uber-rich Americans are spending again, on everything from fancy cars to second homes.

“Personal embracement of luxury is now back to (pre-recession) 2007 levels,” marketing specialist Jim Taylor, author of “Selling to the New Elite,” told USA Today. “We’re seeing that in cars, private jet usage and finally, in high-end real estate. There’s a real change in the way people feel about money. They’re making purchases they put off during the recession.”

For example, second-home markets are on the rise: Vacation homes in Cape Cod, Mass., for example, increased 9 percent in 2010. In Palm Beach, Fla., home sales increased nearly 40 percent, and in Hilton Head, S.C., home sales were up nearly 14 percent. Luxury home sales in Southern California are also beginning to pick up, analysts say.

“We’re starting to see movement,” says Madison Hildebrand, a real estate professional who specializes in selling homes in Southern California, and also star of the Bravo’s “Million Dollar Listing” reality show. “People are more confident.”

Analysts also note that when the wealthy start buying, it often has a trickle down effect among middle and upper-income shoppers too.

Source: “For the Wealthy, Luxury is Back,” USA Today (Feb. 20, 2011)