The index slipped from March's downwardly revised 101.1 to April's 95.5, off 5.5 percent. From April 2011, however, the index posted "strong" gains, NAR said, climbing 14.4 percent from 83.5 a year earlier.
The index is termed a "leading" or "forward-looking" economic indicator because it predicts future home sales.
"Home contract activity has been above year-ago levels now for 12 consecutive months. The housing recovery momentum continues," said NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun.
Yun said, "All of the major housing market indicators are expected to trend gradually up, but a new federal budget must be passed before the end of the year for the economy to continue to move forward."
NAR said the pending home sales index rose 0.9 percent in the Northeast to 78.9 with pending contracts 19.9 percent higher than a year earlier. In the Midwest, pending home sales fell 0.3 percent month-to-month to 93. The Midwest index is up 23 percent from April 2011.
In the South, the index fell 6.8 percent in the month, but at 105.7, the index is 13.3 percent higher than a year earlier. In the West, the index fell to 94.9, off 12 percent. The West index, however, is 5.1 percent higher than April 2011.