Housing Prices Go Thru The Roof

If you're looking to sell, it might be good news, but the dramatic climb in median home prices in the U.S. in the past few years has would-be homeowners and renters really feeling the pinch.

But even with mortgage rates inching higher, prospective home buyers are anxious to get into the real estate market.

Problem is, for many would-be homeowners, prices are just too high.

Median home prices have risen dramatically in the U.S. in the past few years: nearly 300 percent since 1980, 12.5 percent compared to a year ago, and over 2 percent just in the first three months of this year.

CBS News correspondent Trish Regan reports the median home price has risen to $223,000 and is expected to climb by another 5.3 percent this year – adding another $9,000 to the price.

"To afford anything in today's market you have to try to stretch it anyway you can," says Biago Bonfrisco, a real estate agent in New Jersey, where prices have crept up by nearly 15 percent compared to last year.

"The prices are ridiculous - to pay your mortgage on top of utilities," he says, adding that the current price of gas doesn't make things any easier.

And it all adds up. According to a new study by Harvard University's Joint Center for Housing, nearly 16 million households now spend more than half their income on housing - a 14 percent increase from the year 2001 and a far cry from the at-one-time traditional standard of housing costs accounting for no more than a quarter of household income.

Homeowners aren't the only ones getting burned.

Nearly a third of all U.S. households are paying rent, which is expected to jump 4.1 percent this year, a faster increase than that seen in average salaries.

Bonfrisco, despite being a real estate agent, is still renting himself.

"It amazes me that two college graduates... in today's market can't go out and buy a home," he says. "It really does."

Meantime his rent is going up – by another $100 a month – making it that much harder to save up for a future down payment.