Mortgage rates nationwide are starting to rise after several years of record-low rates. What does this mean for home buyers and sellers? Here are a few points to consider:

The Real Estate Market Remains Strong
Real estate remains an excellent investment, and real estate markets across the country are consistently strong. In many local markets there is high demand but low inventory, and buyers are quickly snapping up homes despite rising rates. While buyers may have plenty of competition, it also means they can feel confident in their real estate investment, especially when buying in a part of the country where housing is in demand.

Mortgages Are Still Affordable, Historically Speaking
While current rates are higher than they were at this time last year, they're still considered quite affordable from a historical perspective. Rates are expected to remain under 5 percent for the foreseeable future, as they have been for the past ten years. Compare today's average mortgage rates to the average rate of 5.67 percent in 1996, or the whopping 10.13 percent average in 1990, and you can easily see that current and projected rates are still quite affordable by most objective standards.

Rates Are Expected to Rise in 2017
Most experts expect that rates will either rise slightly in 2017 or fluctuate slightly over the course of the year. Many experts think mortgage rate averages in 2017 will hit the 4.5 percent mark, with some predicting average rates inching up closer to 5 percent. If you plan to buy a home later in the year, you may want to keep these ballpark estimates in mind when figuring out your home budget. And remember these are just guesstimates; nothing is set in stone.

Buyers Can Still Get Great Rates
Although mortgage rates are rising, it's still possible for individual buyers to negotiate and find lower rates. This sometimes involves "buying down" your mortgage, which means paying additional money upfront to take points off your mortgage rate. The general idea is to pay more money now to save money on your mortgage over time. This can make a lot of sense if you have extra cash on hand and plan to hold on to your home for a long time.

Keep in mind that if mortgage rates go down in the future, you can always refinance your loan to get a lower rate and reduce your payments or get more favorable loan terms.