According to Freddie Mac’s Economic and Housing Market Outlook for April, this year should be the best year for home sales since 2007. The optimistic forecast is based on the fact that mortgage rates remain historically low, purchase applications are up, and pending home sales are rising. But despite those positive factors, the forecast follows a slower-than-expected first quarter. “As in recent years, we entered the year with great expectations and optimism for the year ahead,” Len Kiefer, Freddie Mac’s deputy chief economist, said. “The first quarter, once again, defied those expectations, bringing a brutal winter and a slowdown in economic activity. However, we also remain optimistic about trends in housing markets moving forward for the remainder of the year.” In fact, Freddie Mac’s forecast for the rest of the year is largely unchanged from previous reports. They have revised their outlook for economic growth and housing starts downward but continue to see accelerating home sales, slightly higher home prices, and boosted refinance activity ahead. They also expect mortgage rates to remain low through the spring home buying season. All in all, their outlook matches those of other real estate analysts who expect the housing market to experience continued improvement through the end of this year. More here.