Despite the declines, home re-sales should reach 5.1 million in 2013, the best total in seven years, the Realtors forecast. That's 10 percent higher than 2012. But it is still below the 5.5 million that is consistent with healthier housing markets.
Strong price gains in 2013, fueled in part by a limited supply of homes for sale, may be pricing some buyers out of the market. Prices are up more than 19 percent year over year in Atlanta, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, San Diego and San Francisco.
Mortgage rates have also risen by roughly a full percentage point since the spring, though they remain low by historical standards. Mortgage buyer Freddie Mac said last week that the average rate on the 30-year loan is 4.48 percent.
Many economists say the Case-Shiller figures overstate recent price gains because they include foreclosures. Foreclosed homes usually sell at steep discounts. As the proportion of those sales declines, the index rises more sharply.