Despite the numerous obstacles for prospective home buyers, experts remain confident that improving employment and economic data will breathe life into the housing market this spring and summer. More Americans signed contracts to buy homes in March, according to the National Association of Realtors' pending homes sales index—up 5.1 percent—a signal that could mean more house hunters are snapping up bargains. "We're sort of in that in-between phase," says Heather Fernandez, vice president of marketing at Trulia. "People aren't running out to buy that dream house yet because they're not that confident. But we're starting to see consumer confidence shift, people are more interested in home buying, rental rates are still high, and therefore, just based on the numbers, increasingly homeownership is becoming more affordable across the U.S."