"Overall, it is clear that the downtrend in housing remains pervasive and sizable," said analysts at Action Economics.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 67.09 points to 12,757.93, with all but four of its 30 components in negative territory.
The S&P 500 declined 8.74 points to 1,379.43, while the Nasdaq Composite shed 17.97 points to 2,390.07.
Shares of Texas Instruments fell 4.8%, retreating after the chipmaker offered a second-quarter outlook lagging expectations late Monday.
Three Dow components -- McDonald's Corp. , AT&T Inc. and DuPont -- reported results before Tuesday's bell.
McDonald's said first-quarter profits climbed 24%, but same-store sales in March were "slightly negative."
Shares of the fast-food chain declined 0.7%.
In energy trading, crude oil was down 11 cents at $117.37 a barrel, after hitting a high of $118.05 a barrel earlier on.
Wall Street ended narrowly mixed on Monday, with the Dow industrials losing 24 points and the S&P 500 down 2 points as oil prices hit new record highs and Bank of America reported a 77% profit decline. The tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite rose 5 points.
By Kate Gibson