Floridians Show Positive Consumer Sentiment

It’s the fifth month in a row Florida residents’ optimism has resulted in a rise in consumer sentiment, to 74.1 in Feb., up 1.5 points from Jan.

GAINESVILLE, Fla. – Consumer sentiment among Floridians increased for a fifth month in a row in February to 74.1, up 1.5 points from a revised figure of 72.6 in January, reinforcing the optimistic outlook set at the beginning of the year.

“The last time consumer sentiment increased for five consecutive months was before the pandemic, in early 2019,” said Hector H. Sandoval, director of the Economic Analysis Program at UF’s Bureau of Economic and Business Research. “During that period, inflation was under control, interest rates were less than half of today’s rates, and consumer sentiment stood strong at over 100 points, albeit with a slightly higher state unemployment rate than the current one.“Although Florida’s consumer sentiment has not yet reached the levels observed back then, it has significantly improved in recent months, gaining 7.8 points over the last five months out of the total 13.3 points gained since hitting a low point in May 2022 at 60.8.”

Among the five components that make up the index, four increased and one decreased. 

Floridians’ opinions about current economic conditions improved in February.

Perceptions of personal financial situations now compared with a year ago increased 4 points from 56.6 to 60.6, the greatest increase of any reading this month. Opinions as to whether now is a good time to buy a major household item, such as an appliance, increased by 1.2 points from 62.7 to 63.9. These positive views were shared by Floridians across sociodemographic groups, except for women, who reported less-favorable views to the latter component.

The three components corresponding to Floridians’ expectations about future economic conditions were mixed.

Expectations of personal finances a year from now increased 3 points, rising from 85.4 to 88.4. Notably, these views were shared by Floridians across all sociodemographic groups but were stronger among people 60 and older.

In contrast, expectations about U.S. economic conditions over the next year decreased 1.1 points from 76.7 to 75.6, while expectations about U.S. economic conditions over the next five years increased slightly six-tenths of a point from 81.5 to 82.1.

However, expectations about the national economy were split across sociodemographic groups. People 60 and older and people with an annual income under $50,000 expressed more favorable expectations regarding economic conditions over the next year, while men and people 60 older reported less favorable expectations over the next five years.

“It is worth noting that while all five components of the index have improved over the last five months, Floridians’ expectations about the country’s economy over the next five years have improved the most,” said Sandoval. “In fact, this component has increased for seven consecutive months, signaling a growing sense of optimism among Floridians regarding the long-term economic outlook. This heightened optimism not only forecasts a potential increase in consumer spending, thus supporting business growth, but could also lead Floridians to undertake long-term financial commitments, such as investing in real estate. However, with interest rates staying at historically high levels, the potential positive impacts of increased consumer confidence may be somewhat muted.”

“Looking ahead and considering the economic outlook, we anticipate further improvements in consumer sentiment among Floridians in the coming months,” said Sandoval.

Conducted January 1 through February 22, the UF study reflects the responses of 493 individuals who were reached on cellphones and 272 individuals reached through an online panel, a total of 765 individuals, representing a demographic cross-section of Florida. The index used by UF researchers is benchmarked to 1966, which means a value of 100 represents the same level of confidence for that year. The lowest index possible is a 2, the highest is 150. 


Jimmy Dorsey (bandleader) – 1904
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Hattie McDaniel became the first African American to win an Academy Award for her role as Mammy in the film Gone With the Wind– 1940
In Berkeley, California, physicist Ernest Lawrence received his 1939 Nobel Prize in Physics– 1940
Canadian prime minister Pierre Trudeau announced his resignation – 1984
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Mortgage Rates Just Hit a New High for 2024—Here’s Why

By Margaret Heidenry

Mortgage rates are higher now than they’ve been so far this year.

The average rate for a 30-year fixed home loan edged upward from 6.77% last week to 6.9% for the week ending Feb. 22, according to Freddie Mac.

The reason rates have ridden upward of late has to do with the strong economy.

“Strong incoming economic and inflation data has caused the market to reevaluate the path of monetary policy, leading to higher mortgage rates,” Sam Khater, Freddie Mac’s chief economist, said in a statement. “Historically, the combination of a vibrant economy and modestly higher rates did not meaningfully impact the housing market. The current cycle is different than historical norms, as housing affordability is so low that good economic news equates to bad news for homebuyers, who are sensitive to even minor shifts in affordability.”

Will mortgage rates continue to rise and keep buyers on the sidelines as the traditionally busy spring housing market kicks off in less than a month? Here’s what the latest housing statistics could mean for homebuyers and sellers in this latest installment of “How’s the Housing Market This Week?”

The mortgage rates question

Despite this latest bad news for homebuyers, the good news can be seen within the bigger picture: Mortgage rates are at least down from when they reached an even higher peak in 2023, when a 30-year fixed averaged 7.79% for the week ending Oct. 26.

Rates have continued to pingpong in the mid-to-high 6% range without a big dip forecast on the horizon anytime soon. Yet that doesn’t mean a further drop in rates won’t ever happen.

“While the decline in mortgage rates has stalled in recent weeks due to strong economic and labor market conditions and an uneven decline in inflation, optimism that they will resume their decline remains high,” says Realtor.com® economic data manager Sabrina Speianu in her most recent analysis.

Inventory continues to rise

Meanwhile, other housing market data was quietly improving for the week ending Feb. 17.

Not too long ago, active inventory growth almost ground to a halt, with very few new listings for buyers to shop. Now that same metric is up—way up.

For the week ending Feb. 17, 10.9% more home sellers entered the market than this same week a year earlier, marking a 17-week upward streak. Active inventory (a combination of new and old listings) rose by a whopping 15.7% for the same period.

“Home listings continue to become more plentiful so far this year, as sellers list at rates higher than last year,” says Speianu. The continued run of new homes for sale “could further contribute to a recovery in active listings, meaning more options for home shoppers.”

Home price growth slows

Much like mortgage rates, median home prices are in relative limbo, not going up by much but not falling dramatically either.

For the week ending Feb. 17, the median home list price was 0.2% higher compared with the same week the prior year. (The median list price in January was $409,500.)

While the numbers on the listing page may seem to be in stasis, the listing price growth “declined from the previous week [+0.3%], as listing price growth continues to cool,” Speianu explains.

She adds that price growth has “slowed considerably as sellers adjust to market expectations and listing price reductions have increased.”

In other homebuyer-friendly news, the sluggish home price growth trajectory seen this season could mean that home prices might not reach the $441,000 high seen in June.

“Slower listing price growth and more inventory will provide more options for buyers this spring compared to a year ago, as the housing market is expected to continue a slow recovery,” says Speianu.

Countdown to spring

Despite high home prices and mortgage rates, home shoppers seem more determined than ever to close the deal.

For the week ending Feb. 17, houses were snapped up four days faster compared with the same time last year, marking a four-month run that the typical home lingered on the market for less time than the same week one year ago.

Homebuyers gearing up to buy a home in spring should pay close attention to this metric and not waste time making an offer.

“While inventory has increased compared to last year, there are no indications of an oversupply as inventory continues to remain low compared to pre-pandemic years and the time a typical listing spends on the market is relatively low,” says Speianu.