SALES SLIP: U.S. sales of previously occupied homes dipped in December from November, in part because of a limited supply of homes. Still, sales rose last year to 4.65 million, a 9.2 percent increase from the previous year and most in five years.
INVENTORIES FALL: Only 1.82 million homes were for sale at the end of December, the lowest in almost 12 years. That's an 8.5 percent drop compared with November. It occurred partly because fewer people sell their homes in the winter.
RISING DEMAND: Stable hiring, record-low mortgage rates, an increase in new households and a limited supply have helped boost sales and prices in most markets.