Freddie Mac’s chief economist Frank Nothaft sees better days ahead for the economy and housing market, according to his mid-year economic update. Nothaft writes that economic growth will pick up in the second half of the year despite near-term concerns restraining consumer spending. He believes the unemployment rate will end the year near 8.6 percent and, with job gains and high housing affordability, homebuyers will return to the market with a high degree of purchasing power. Cautious consumers with the means to buy a home may be waiting for clear indication that housing has stabilized but, with a strengthening rental market, low financing costs, and less economic uncertainty, Nothaft believes growth will continue to accelerate this year and lead to an improvement in housing activity. More here.