In February, prevailing mortgage rates continued to rise, and recent increases are starting to have a notable impact on home affordability, which will leave consumers choosing between a higher payment or a lower-priced home. According to the Mortgage Bankers Association, the average interest rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages with a 20 percent down payment and with conforming loan balances that qualify for backing by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac rose to its highest level since January 2014. While a 4.5 or 4.6 percent rate might still seem like a deal to those with extensive real estate experience, it represents a new ceiling for many potential first-time home buyers. As long as the economy and stock market continue to fare well, upward rate pressure is likely to continue.