The latest 2012 Economic and Housing Outlook from National Association of Realtors’ chief economist Lawrence Yun calls for modest economic growth and continued improvement for the housing market. Yun’s forecast says, though real GDP growth was 1.5 percent in the second quarter, it will grow at near 2.0 percent for the rest of the year. And though that is still below the historical norm of 3.0 percent a year, it is an improvement over 2011. Housing starts are forecast to rise by 27 percent this year, with a jump of nearly 50 percent in 2013. Yun also expects continued gains for both new and existing home sales. So far this year, existing home sales have been nearly 8.0 percent above last year, while new home sales are up nearly 20 percent. According to the NAR’s expectations, new home sales will hit 600,000 by 2013 and existing home sales will rise to nearly 5 million next year. The forecast also calls for a continued decline in distressed properties and increasing median home prices. More here.