The long-forecast end of the homebuilding boom finally arrived today.
Toll Brothers Inc., the nation's biggest builder of luxury homes, signaled the start of an industry-wide sell off by warning that it expects to sell 4 to 7 percent fewer houses next year.
Toll Brothers stock fell 14 percent, dragging down not only the shares of other builders but also the whole market.
Builders were the big losers in the Standard & Poor's 500 stock index, which fell 4 points to 1,218.59. While the S&P 500's loss was only a fraction of a percentage point, the S&P homebuilding index fell almost 7 percent.
Shares of NVR Inc., the biggest builder in the Washington area, fell more than 6.5 percent, dropping $46.50 to $668 a share. The stock of Comstock Homes, a much smaller local builder, fell nearly 6 percent, slipping 99 cents to $16.85.
Investors also sold off stocks of companies such as Lowe's and Home Depot, which generate a big portion of their sales from families moving into new homes.
Technology stocks held up somewhat better than housing and consumer goods issues, but modest losses spread across the whole market.
The Dow Jones industrial average fell almost 47 points to 10,539.72. The Nasdaq Stock Market composite index slipped 6 points to 2,172.07.
Today's loss ended a four-day winning streak for the market.