BOSTON ( MainStreet) -- The housing market's key spring selling season gets under way this month, and the National Association of Realtors expects the number of homes changing hands to actually rise this time around after years of flat or declining sales. "This is the first year where we may see meaningful recovery signs in housing," says the NAR's chief economist, Lawrence Yun, who recently boosted his forecast for second-quarter existing-home sales to a seasonally adjusted 4.5 million units. That's up 7.7% from a year earlier.
There's good news for the housing market in spring, especially in places such as long-suffering Miami, where demand may well start bumping up.
Yun also expects median U.S. sales prices to rise 1% from last year's levels to hit $171,000 this spring. "A lot of factors are moving in the right direction," he says. "Mortgage rates are at historic lows, rising rents are squeezing tenants, the stock market has robustly bounced back and the job market is beginning to come around." The economist adds that sub-4% mortgage rates, the lowest backlog of unsold homes in seven years and prices that have dropped back to 2003 levels should also buoy the market. "I think we can get price stability or a modest price pickup," Yun says of the spring. Of course, plenty of headwinds remain for housing.