An unusually warm winter may be influencing the pace of spring home sales, according to a new outlook from Fannie Mae’s Economic & Strategic Research Group. The housing market got off to a fast start at the beginning of the year but monthly data suggests some loss of momentum nearing the end of the first quarter. This slowing,however, is primarily due to an unseasonably warm winter pulling sales activity from the spring, when the sales season typically begins. Doug Duncan, Fannie Mae’s chief economist, said he still expects home sales to rise more than seven percent this year, noting improvements in consumers’ outlook on prices and selling a home in the current market as evidence that housing will continue to build on its recent gains. Fannie Mae’s forecast calls for the economy to grow by 2.3 percent in 2012, though they call for some economic sluggishness before things begin to firm in the second half of the year. More here and here.