The National Association of Realtors’ Realtor Confidence Index measures how real estate professionals perceive the market for single-family homes on a scale where any number above 50 indicates more Realtors feel the market will be strong over the next six months than those that feel it will be weak. In December, the index increased to 67 from 60 the month before. The spike follows a series of positive economic and housing reports at the end of last year. In this case, the spring selling season – which is typically the busiest time of the year for home buyers and sellers – may be one reason for the increasing optimism. However, job market gains, declining mortgage rates, and new programs offering buyers reduced monthly mortgage insurance premiums and lower down payment requirements are also responsible for the brighter outlook. In recent months, housing market sentiment overall has been on the rise among both professionals, such as home builders and real estate agents, and consumers. Boosted optimism about Americans’ personal financial situation and the real estate market have many analysts and insiders forecasting a good upcoming spring season. More here.