TAMPA — Tampa housing prices jumped nearly 16 percent last year, helping thousands of homeowners to regain equity in their homes, but homeowners shouldn’t expect the same level of appreciation this year, a leading housing expert said Tuesday.
In fact, Yale economist Robert Shiller was iffy on the prospects for rising home prices this year. He said he expects prices to rise another 5 percent nationwide but also wouldn’t be surprised if they fell a bit.
Higher mortgage rates and a general lack of enthusiasm among home buyers are taking a toll on the once-hot housing market, he said in a conference call with reporters Tuesday morning.
Shiller made his predictions in conjunction with the release of the S&P/Case-Shiller home price index for December, which tracks the price of existing single-family homes in metropolitan areas around the country. Tampa seems to be faring better than most other regions, with prices here rising 0.3 percent from November to December. In contrast, home prices in 14 of the S&P/Case-Shiller’s index of 20 cities were flat or lost ground in December.
Meantime, Tampa-area housing prices rose 15.8 percent in the one-year period from December 2012 to this past December. In real dollar terms, that means a $200,000 house appreciated to $231,600 last year. The average price increase in the 20 cities in the index was 13.4 percent last year.
Tampa’s home prices now are about where they were in May 2004, the index shows. However, that was before the historic rally in 2005 and 2006 and subsequent bust. Prices here are still down 35 percent from their July 2006 peak.
Shiller said a few big factors are clouding the national real estate outlook. First, mortgage rates have risen considerably in the past year even if they’re still historically low. According to mortgage giant Freddie Mac, the average rate on a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage is 4.33 percent, which is up from 3.56 percent a year ago. Meantime, some of people’s exuberance for the housing market has worn off and more people are turning to rentals instead of ownership, he said.