Improvements in the labor market and overall economy have led to optimistic forecasts for the housing market in 2012. In their latest Economic and Housing Market Outlook report, Freddie Mac sees an awakened economy spurring housing forward after years of somewhat depressed conditions. Frank Nothaft, Freddie Mac’s vice president and chief economist, says a variety of encouraging indicators suggest that the housing market may be feeling a nascent recovery and more neighborhoods may see stabilization of demand and values this spring. The report cites increases in housing starts and sales and continued gains in home builder and housing professionals’ confidence as evidence of an improved market. It also credits low mortgage rates and high affordability, along with consumer confidence and perceptions of the job market, as a reason behind increased housing demand. More here.