As the U.S housing market continues to recover, a third of all counties in the United States are less affordable now than they have been in the past 100 years, according to a study published by RealtyTrac. The firm's latest housing affordability report found that 34 percent of the 1,200 U.S. counties it surveyed are at their least affordable, on average, since the year 2000. At the same time, none of the counties RealtyTrac looked at are considered to be on the "risky" end of the affordability scale.
Though a third of U.S. counties are less affordable these days, 81 percent of the overall population still lives where income is enough to afford a decent home. RealtyTrac found that if interest rates rise just a quarter percentage point, 461 counties—with a combined population of 77 million, or 30 percent of total U.S. population—will exceed their historical averages for affordability and 27 will exceed their historical peaks. The Federal Reserve expects interest rates to rise again in 2015.
Fifth Third Bancorp Inc. has agreed to pay $1.52 million in a settlement with the U.S. Department of Justice, which charged that Fifth Third discriminated against loan applicants based on disability. The discrimination lawsuit came about as a result of a complaint filed with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. The complaint alleged that the bank's mortgage unit violated the federal Fair Housing Act and the Equal Credit Opportunity Act by requiring some loan applicants to produce doctors' letters to verify Social Security Disability income.