Despite a slow start to the year, economists expect the housing recovery to ramp up now that the spring home buying season has started. Freddie Mac’s most recent Economic and Housing Market Outlook, for example, says housing is ready to shift into a higher gear but is being held back by a number of supply-and-demand related factors. According to Frank Nothaft, Freddie Mac’s vice president and chief economist, it all comes down to jobs. Housing needs stronger levels of sustained job creation before its engine is firing on all cylinders, Nothaft said. He believes continued improvement in the job market is the quickest cure for the slow growth and month-to-month volatility of the housing recovery. Still, Freddie Mac’s updated outlook expects the housing market to continue improving. Among the report’s highlights, home sales are forecast to reach 5.5 million this year and new home construction is expected to increase 18 percent. Also, though prices and mortgage rates are expected to rise through the end of the year, the increases are expected to be gradual and not as significant as last year’s. More here.