Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios Visuals

The average rates for 15- and 30-year fixed mortgage dipped to their lowest levels in three years this week, per new data from mortgage giant Freddie Mac.

The big picture: The bottom rung of the housing ladder has now ascended beyond the grasp of millions of Americans, regardless of whether they want to rent or buy, Axios' Felix Salmon reported last week. Home prices have surged in recent years.

Catch up quick: 15-year and 30-year fixed mortgage rates are continuing a steady decline that began around the new year, while hybrid adjustable-rate mortgages spiked slightly this week, per Freddie Mac.

  • "Consistently low mortgage rates" helped drive home sales higher in December, the Wall Street Journal reports.
  • "Lenders extended a greater volume of home loans in 2019 than any year since 2006," WSJ wrote, citing industry research from Inside Mortgage Finance.

What they're saying: “It’s very much a historical opportunity for folks who have an existing mortgage to refinance and for credit-qualified people to lock in a low rate,” Doug Duncan, chief economist at Fannie Mae, told the WSJ.

Go deeper: The housing market faces an uncertain 2020

Go deeper

Updated 9 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 9:45 p.m. ET: 19,282,972 — Total deaths: 718,851 — Total recoveries — 11,671,491Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 9:45 p.m. ET: 4,937,441 — Total deaths: 161,248 — Total recoveries: 1,623,870 — Total tests: 60,415,558Map.
  3. Politics: Trump says he's prepared to sign executive orders on coronavirus aid.
  4. Education: Cuomo says all New York schools can reopen for in-person learning.
  5. Public health: Surgeon general urges flu shots to prevent "double whammy" with coronavirus — Massachusetts pauses reopening after uptick in coronavirus cases.
  6. World: Africa records over 1 million coronavirus cases — Gates Foundation puts $150 million behind coronavirus vaccine production.

Warren and Clinton to speak on same night of Democratic convention

(Photos: Abdulhamid Hosbas/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images, Sean Rayford/Getty Images)

Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Hillary Clinton both are slated to speak on the Wednesday of the Democratic convention — Aug. 19 — four sources familiar with the planning told Axios.

Why it matters: That's the same night Joe Biden's running mate (to be revealed next week) will address the nation. Clinton and Warren represent two of the most influential wise-women of Democratic politics with the potential to turn out millions of establishment and progressive voters in November.

Trump considering order on pre-existing condition protections, which already exist

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President Trump announced on Friday he will pursue an executive order requiring insurance companies to cover pre-existing conditions, something that is already law.

Why it matters: The Affordable Care Act already requires insurers to cover pre-existing conditions. The Trump administration is currently arguing in a case before the Supreme Court to strike down that very law — including its pre-existing condition protections.