U.S. home sales declined in December, but were still well above the same period one year ago.
Tuesday's report from the National Association of Realtors shows December's sales of previously-owned homes fell by one percent from the previous month.
If homes sold at December's rate for a full year, slightly more than 4.9 million homes would change owners.
Experts say December is an exception to a generally improving trend in the housing market, which is bolstered by record-low mortgage rates and improving employment.
Severe problems in the U.S. housing market played a key role in the financial crisis.
The gradual healing of the housing market may be one reason that Americans are growing less pessimistic about the economy.
A report from the Gallup public opinion polling agency says economic confidence has improved over the last few weeks, after falling amid worries about political bickering in Washington.