FEWER CONTRACTS SIGNED: The National Association of Realtors' index of signed contracts to buy homes dropped 4.3 percent in December to 101.7. That's down from a 2 ½ -year high in November.
TIGHT SUPPLY: Sales were held back by a limited supply of available homes, which fell to an 11-year low in December.
TREND IN PLACE: The decline suggests sales will cool off in January. There's generally a one- to two-month lag between a signed contract and a completed sale. Still the broader trend remains solid: Home sales rose in 2012 to their highest level in five years.