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(Carl Cronan is editor of Real EstateFlorida.)

GAINESVILLE, FL-The state’s consumer confidence index has reached 67 this month, up six points from the revised July number and rebounding strongly from an all-time low of 59 in June, the University of Florida Bureau of Economic and Business Research reports. Researchers believe the new index means Floridians have learned to take bad news in stride.

“Although gas prices are coming down a bit, consumers have now adjusted to higher prices,” says Chris McCarty, director of the bureau’s Survey Research Center at UF’s campus in Gainesville. “Much of the pain from the housing downturn has also been absorbed. At this point, most people are looking forward to a turnaround in the economy some time next year.”

Two index components, related to national economic conditions, showed double-digit increases in the latest survey released Tuesday. Perceptions about personal finances rose slightly over the past month, while those considering whether now is a good time to buy big-ticket items were flat.

McCarty points to signs that prices for single-family homes in Florida are beginning to stabilize after many months of decline, while those for condominiums appear to keep falling. That stabilization of housing prices will ultimately lead to stability in financial markets, he says.

Retail sales have dipped with the previous drop in consumer confidence, as reflected by falling sales tax revenue, according to McCarty. “We will no doubt have a very weak holiday season, but many people are looking past that to better times,” he says.

The UF Survey Research Center conducts its consumer attitude survey each month, based on responses from more than 400 residents statewide telephoned at random. The confidence index aims to help predict consumers’ buying patterns and tends to provide a quicker measurement than other economic indicators.

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